Managing anti-malware protection on multiple networked PCs is no fun at all unless you can control everything centrally, but many enterprise-level managed products are far too complex for the smaller business.
Avast Business Protection is designed to be scalable, and is intended for companies with limited technical resources. The product started life aimed at networks with up to 200 PCs, but this has now been increased to 1,000 clients (online purchases are supported up to 99 licences, but for more than this you will need to buy from a reseller).
To get started, the administration console is installed on a workstation or a file server. This can take a while as it installs IIS and SQL Server 2008 R2 if the correct versions are not present. It also requires Microsoft Silverlight for the browser-based console. The setup wizard sets up the administrator credentials and SMTP details before launching the console.
On first run, the console runs a setup wizard that discovers PCs and lets you select the ones to be managed. The software then detects whether the computer is on a domain or workgroup and tailors the deployment options accordingly.
For workgroups, there's a choice of deploying the managed client software manually or emailing a download link to each user (the installer is hosted on the PC running the console, along with all program and definition updates). For domains, deployment is automatic once the administrator credentials are supplied.
The console itself is well designed and easy to navigate, with very little jargon throughout. A summary screen gives a quick overview of core statistics. Those with larger networks will appreciate the ability to create groups of PCs and apply different Avast client settings to each group. Error conditions on clients are indicated by colour, but to see the error detail you have to open the 'edit computer' dialogue, which is not particularly intuitive.