Going Beyond SMS
NetDeploy Global picks up where Microsoft leaves off on application deployment.
- By Mark Wingard
One of the strongest features of Microsoft's Systems Management Server
(SMS) is its ability to deploy software; but who says a good thing can't
be made better? While SMS is very good at distributing software applications
in a well-connected environment, it's less effective in an "extended network"
with remote and mobile users, who often live outside the corporate firewall.
NetDeploy Global for Microsoft SMS, from ManageSoft (formerly Open Software
Associates, OSA) extends the software distribution ability of SMS with
a number of attractive features aimed at achieving 100 percent success
in enterprise-wide software distribution.
With SMS claiming approximately 50 percent of the Wintel desktop management
field, OSA wisely decided to integrate NetDeploy Global with SMS to leverage
the SMS infrastructure. One of the main features of the NetDeploy Global
for SMS client is its SmartPull technology. It provides the ManageSoft
client with a number of "self-healing" capabilities, including the ability
to resume an interrupted software installation; the ability to replace
deleted application files with or without .msi files; the ability to ensure
package integrity through the use of MD5 checksums to prevent viruses
from propagating through software deployment; and the ability to keep
a given computer at a desired "system state" with more than one designated
software package. Further, the NetDeploy Global for SMS client can use
either the normal SMS distribution mechanism or Internet protocols such
as HTTP or FTP to get software to the desktop. This flexibility means
traveling laptop users don't have to worry about having access to an SMS
Client Access Point or Distribution Server when they connect to their
offices through a VPN, a slow dial-up, or over the Internet; they'll still
get the critical applications they need. Road warriors will even get their
applications installed the next time they connect if their link goes down
in the middle of the session.
System administrators get a break, too. NetDeploy Global for SMS offers
a fail-over server facility; the ability to throttle bandwidth during
distribution; automatic detection of the nearest server so multiple distribution
points can be utilized; the ability to limit download sizes along with
full compression of all transferred files; accurate reporting information
on software installations; and even a variety of methods to insure corporate
firewall integrity in spite of remote clients connecting from who-knows-where.
The NetDeploy Global for SMS client can either fully integrate with SMS
and be managed through the SMS Administrator Console or be completely
functional on its own in situations where it's not practical or possible
to have the SMS client installed. In my company's mixed environment of
SMS and non-SMS clients in both Active Directory and NT 4 networking environments,
I consider NetDeploy Global for SMS to be a comprehensive and valuable
solution for software distribution needs.
|As we went to press, ManageSoft released
a significant product update. The new version, dubbed
ManageSoft 6.0, extends the software distribution focus
to the creation of an entire virtual "software warehouse."
| ManageSoft 6.0 offers a variety of new interface options.
With this version, you can track your deployment effort through a
virtual warehouse with menus at strategic hotspots. (Click image to
view larger version.)
This integrated package allows you to handle all software
tasks from receiving a new release to reporting on which
computers have successfully installed it, including testing
and repackaging. Additional tracking and reporting features
enhance already strong capabilities for license analysis,
leading to potentially significant cost savings. You can
tailor a variety of digital dashboard displays to the
needs of management with as much or as little information
as necessary. The new version includes a customizable
user interface built as an MMC Console, as well as integration
with Microsoft .NET technologies for key features.
While not inexpensive, NetDeploy Global for SMS can provide that extra
bit of flexibility and functionality to extend true systems management
to every Windows desktop, especially for organizations with a significant
remote/mobile user base, and/or a heterogeneous desktop and network infrastructure.
Mark Wingard, MCSE, MCT, CTT, works as a desktop management specialist
for a major research laboratory. He’s been a network professional for
more than 14 years, an MCP since 1992 and currently designs AD implementations
and SMS deployments.