Get Software Installs Under Control
Wise Package Studio provides a setup factory for the sysadmin.
If you're running a big network, one of the last things you want is to
have users installing software for themselves. Think about the number
of choices that you can make when installing Microsoft Office XP - and
then think about the load on the corporate help desk if every user has
Office configured in their own idiosyncratic way. Avoiding that situation
is the reason that repackaging software was invented. Now Wise Solutions,
a pioneer in the field, has upgraded their repackaging solution to handle
more tasks than ever before.
Wise Package Studio consists of a number of independent tools (20 in
the Professional Edition that I evaluated) that can (and should) be organized
into processes. A process, in Wise parlance, is a set of steps that needs
to be carried out to accomplish a particular repackaging task. The product
comes with some predefined processes, but it's easy to add your own as
well (and to set company-wide defaults to make sure all your sysadmins
tackle the same tasks in the same way). For example, the Quick Repackage
process includes creating, customizing, and testing a new setup.
The basic notion of repackaging is simple. First, you record the baseline
configuration of your test computer. Then, you install the new software
from the manufacturer's setup program, making the appropriate choices
as you go along. The SetupCapture task records every change that the program
makes, and builds a setup file (either Windows Installer or Wise's own
format) based on those changes. When end users run this new setup on their
own computer, they get all of the software with none of the choices.
|The Workbench guides the administrator through the process
needed to complete a repackaging job one step at a time. (Click image
to view larger version.)
Wise Package Studio has quite a few impressive capabilities. These include
the ability to transform any setup into a Windows Installer package, the
ability to check changes made by a new piece of software to ensure that
they don't conflict with other programs you've already installed, and
both low-level and script-view editors for MSI files. The Workbench interface,
shown in Figure 1, offers pervasive help and checklists to guide even
inexperienced users through your company's standard processes.
The Professional Edition is the middle of the three offerings in the
Wise Package Studio Line, aimed at a team of administrators working at
the department or division level. There's also a Standard Edition for
the single administrator on a small network, without the conflict-checking
pieces, and an Enterprise Edition that supports fully distributed workflows
and adds additional automation. In my tests the Professional Edition worked
flawlessly and the interface was intuitive enough that I barely needed
to crack the manuals. If you feel like software on your network is out
of control, you need to check this product out for a potential solution.
Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.