I’ll looking for (and will appreciate) feedback from you specialists or IT admins (especially of SME environments) here
For my SME customers, I’m looking for a product(portfolio) which :
  • Is easy to install, maintain and(or) host for me as the solution provider, where my activity would be amongst others:
    • Installation
    • Prepare packages for deployment (put the install sources on the server, determine the install command line options, repack if necessary, …)
    • Perform a first deployment to the existing clients in the LAN (like a clean start)
    • Add/ update/change packages on a regular bases
  • Easy to use for the designated IT person of my customer:
    • Follow up on ongoing deployments through reports
    • Trigger a “bulk” deployment to a newly added PC to the domain, or a pc which has been rebuild
      • The time to rebuild a pc (with OS and applications) is less important than the simplicity of this whole environment (by that I mean, it requires more pain/effort to keep images up to date, then just reinstall the OS, logon to the domain, and let the pc install most of the apps and updates for a number of hours)
      • Some automated OS deployment would be nice also, however, most customers now, use the pc’s recoverycd for the base rebuild, then add it to the domain because there is little hardware uniformity
    • Report and review the networks software inventory and license compliance
  • For SME customers with an environment between 10 and 75 client pc’s:
    • With users on a local lan
    • Users on a remote location, with a WAN connection to the main site (so no server on the remote location)
    • Travelling and home office users through VPN (so a technology like BITS for trickle downloads to the client would be a requirement)
  • With following featureset:
    • Typical software deployment of vendor software (like MSOffice, Adobe tools, Antivirus, VNC, …..)
    • Software deployment of custom packages (specific company software, via msi package, standard .exe package, via cmd/vbs script)
    • Possibly with following options:
      • Forced push : for “required” software
      • With the option to schedule it
      • Visible to the user, so he/she knows something is installing
      • Optional : a set of applications, the user can select from a pool
      • A bulk push/pul/install: a way to trigger the install of all applications to a new pc on the network
    • (optional) Software uninstall (not just from the deployed packages, but when possible also for e.g. unauthorized software on the pc)
    • Reporting of the deployment progress
    • Software inventory of all domain clients on the network
    • Reporting / compliance overview of the licensing of the company
  • No resource hog (light and easy)
  • Which can be installed on both MS Server SBS 2003 and SBS 2008 (if a local install is applicable) OR as a hosted solution
  • Without OR with a zero maintenance agent on the clientpc side
  • In an environment, where we need between 10 and 30 applications installed to the clients
  • Where the typical Microsoft updates are handled by a local WSUS server (so, unless there is overwhelming motivation to use another tool for this, we would leave WSUS to handle the MS patching)
  • Where we use GPO to force some basic requirements for the clients (forced shortcuts, security, links, desktop behavior, registry entries …)
  • If this is integrated in a more wide desktop/client management system (incl. hardware inventory, fault and performance monitoring, …), that would be nice to, however, it needs to remain “light and easy”
  • A transparent (budget friendly) pricing per seat
  • Some of my requests above are “nice to have” rather than a showstopper, so a tool which covers 85% of my requirements may still be good enough, I always will look at the complete picture
Names which come to my mind: specops (deploy+inventory), desktop authority, kaseya
I’ll looking for (and will appreciate) feedback from you specialists or IT admins (especially of SME environments) here, either advice, comparisons, experiences...
Thanks


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For packaging, it's either Wise or InstallShield. There is a question mark over Wise's long-term future, given their sporadic support for new technologies in recent years and, whilst it's my preferred tool, I am directing people - including my current client - away from it.

For deployment to that number of seats, it's a no-brainer - Active Directory, i.e. Group Policy deployment.
Answered 09/08/2009 by: VBScab
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ORIGINAL: VBScab

For packaging, it's either Wise or InstallShield. There is a question mark over Wise's long-term future, given their sporadic support for new technologies in recent years and, whilst it's my preferred tool, I am directing people - including my current client - away from it.

For deployment to that number of seats, it's a no-brainer - Active Directory, i.e. Group Policy deployment.


I first also thought of group policy deployment, but it is too limited: no reporting at all, little control, no flexibility (it is forced at startup/logon, no other options)
Answered 09/08/2009 by: lightningbit
Yellow Belt

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Have you considered script? For the limited number of seats you have, you could use the MouseTrax Domain Reporting Tool (or an edited version) http://www.mousetrax.com

For distribution/deployment, a scripted approach is perfectly valid in that environment. It's possible to build robust and flexible tools with script, including the provision of a GUI (if built into an HTA, for example).
Answered 09/08/2009 by: VBScab
Red Belt

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