Product Reviews

Lanovation Cooks Up Tasty Installs

Prism Deploy can fill the gaps in your deployment solution.

As the head chef in my family, I’ve spent hours preparing a meal only to sit down and watch it eaten in a matter of minutes. Then I usually sit back and think, “Boy was that a lot of work!” If you’re the head network chef of your company, then you probably feel my pain, spending hours writing scripts and preparing software installation packages. If you’re looking for some help around the network kitchen, you may want to consider Lanovation’s Prism Deploy, which creates installation packages at the click of a button.

There are two parts to Prism deploy: the Administrator component and the Client component. Either part will run on Windows 2000/NT 4.0 or Windows Me/98/95. This flexibility gives even the smallest peer-to-peer organizations the ability to maintain a standardized software infrastructure. Both components install effortlessly; the Client component can be installed either from a network share or directly from the CD. For mass client deployment, you can generate an installation script that can be e-mailed or included in a login script.

The quickest way to create an installation package is to run the Expert. The Expert takes a snapshot of the system, waits for you to make changes (such as installing a new application), then takes another snapshot and creates a package from the difference. Of course, you can customize the packages. Prism Deploy can also generate Windows Installer .MSI files from its packages, which is useful if you’ve standardized on that technology.

If you’re an experienced chef that doesn’t need the extra hand, you can also manually create and customize packages. There’s also a Conflict Checker that ensures your new packages don’t conflict with existing ones.

Once you’ve created a package, you’re ready for deployment. You can deploy your packages using Prism Deploy’s Console or via a Web page. The console method allows you select individual computers or groups of computers and initiate the installation process from a central location. With the console, not only can you deploy Prism packages, you can also issue commands and run scripts.

With the Web method, you create a Web page for your users where they can click the applications they wish to install. If you’re not real savvy with writing HTML, don’t worry: Prism Deploy includes a wizard that will create the page for you.

Prism Deploy
The Prism Deploy console lets you install packages or run commands across any group of servers. (Click image to view larger version.)

One thing to note about Prism Deploy is that (just as with other applications that use a “before” and “after” snapshot process) you need to create your package on the same software platform as that to which you’re deploying. You can customize a single package to support multiple platforms, but some advanced expertise is required.

What makes Prism Deploy such a valuable helper is its ability to integrate with any existing deployment processes. You can use it as your enterprise solution, use it just to create .MSI packages, or use it to fill any gaps in your current solution-without being a scripting guru. In any case, this software package is one that warrants space in your cupboard.

About the Author

Joseph Stoppiello, MCSE, is president and CEO of ITwirx, a systems integrator and network architecture company. He's been designing Windows architectures and Windows-based network architectures for 11 years.

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