I manage a small business of 80 employees and want more control and less hassle than learning how to be a script kiddie for every product installation. I need to deploy nearly as many titles as I have employees and want to upgrade to SpecOps Deploy or System Center Essentials 2007.

SpecOps looked like, with the super-brief testing I performed on it, it's not much of an upgrade over standard Group Policy/Active Directory Publishing. And its presentation screamed 'value' and that worries me - I don't want 'the best' because it costs more but I want to do things the right way, whatever that may mean to you.

Anywho, just curious if any of you had ever compared these options - would love to know what conclusions you arrived at and why and if you're still happy with the direction you chose.

With much appreciation,

matt
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I just installed an SCE server at our shop of about 140 users. I'm liking the monitoring and management features so far, but I've been unimpressed with the software deployment. We currently use Group Policy to push our apps but decided to upgrade as Group Policy will no longer be supported for things such as the Adobe CS3 line. SCE uses the WSUS engine to install software the same as an update. I think in that respect you end up with even less flexibility than with Group Policy. I may be missing something, though, as another drawback to the product is that there is almost no documentation available for it yet. If you're looking for something to do more than deploy software (management, monitoring, updates, etc) then I would recomend the product. If you're looking for something that is devoted to application management then I would maybe look elsewhere.
Answered 06/13/2008 by: blackdog777
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Very helpful post, thank you.

Not that I have any problems or disbelief with what blackdog777 said, but pertaining to software deployment, does anyone else have any input that agrees or disagrees with his experiences?

Thanks all!
Answered 06/13/2008 by: RLRPC
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I've only played with SCE in a lab environment and had some mixed feelings about it. I don't have much to offer on it but if you are comparing products I'm compelled to point out that the KBOX Systems Management Appliance should definitely be on your short list of products to investigate:

http://www.kace.com/products/systems-management-appliance/desktop-management-software-alternative/systems-management-appliance.php

(its from the same company that brings you AppDeploy)
Answered 06/13/2008 by: bkelly
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Thank you, as I was unaware of KBOX.
Is this supposed to be a step up from AppDeploy?
Answered 06/13/2008 by: RLRPC
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Two completely different things really: Kace offers some very cool management appliances like the KBOX, and separately provides this community for all. There is some integration between AppDeploy and the KBOX you might find interesting: http://www.kace.com/products/systems-management-appliance/computer-management-software-alternative/appdeploy-live.php
Answered 06/13/2008 by: bkelly
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Heh, I guess I'm a freak or something because viewing

the only things that concern me are software distribution and patch management, the others are really not a concern. It sounds cool, but it sounds like a lot more than what I want.

Are we just not at a point where it's simply to deploy any old software out there without writing a script all the time?

blackdog777 - is the WSUS engine failing your needs? Are you the type that wants something pushed when you say NOW, versus waiting for users to restart, etc.? I gather CS3 products are incompatible, but are you able to install .msp patches thru SCE? What about 'any old single-.exe installer'? Any luck with that crowd?

Thanks all, you're really opening my eyes up to a lot of new things and I appreciate everyone's input.
Answered 06/13/2008 by: RLRPC
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It's actually the opposite. SCE is awesome for saying install it NOW (it has a feature called a "deadline" that you can set. I tend to use a lot of publishes when possible so that my end-users can install when it's convenient for them or perhaps maybe even not at all in the event that it is a small utility or a browser plug in. Unfortunately with SCE only the local administrator can see apps that have been published to add/remove.

I have not attempted to push an msp using the update feature yet. Most of my apps are Install Points so I've been updating them at the source. It does allow for old fashioned exe's which does give it a leg up on Group Policy, but I really do think that I'm going to miss being able to publish.

I'll be moving over some of my install points to repackage with the SCE box later this week. I can let you know if I run into anything else that makes me like/not like it more.
Answered 06/16/2008 by: blackdog777
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Thanks for keeping in touch! That's actually very informative for me and I'm sorry it took so long to respond. I've spent the entire day trying to remember who I was supposed to respond to and finally found the email notification of your message and remembered!

OK so you're in an environment where you want to give end users more flexibility and/or capability, but SCE does not provide that to you in the manner you wish. Presuming you were in a more dictatorial environment (which I am), would you foresee any limitations in that mindset - either through Deadlines or GP-esque install-during-startup?

Has anybody else pushed any .msp's successfully?

Does SCE 'upgrade' from older warez any better or worse than Group Policy did?

...in continued appreciation, Matt.
Answered 06/18/2008 by: RLRPC
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I think it would work well for a more dictatorial environment. The deployed applications install just like a windows update, so you could schedule them accordingly or you can set a deadline and it will go out at the deadline. I think I'll have more info for you in another week.
Answered 06/24/2008 by: blackdog777
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Follow-up question for anyone interested:

Has anyone used Configuration Manager 2007 in lieu of SCE 2007 for app deployment? MS certainly touts it as a stronger tool; is Config Mgr. now what used to be called SMS?
Answered 06/26/2008 by: RLRPC
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Hi i have recently implemented SCE in my network and am “playing” around with some of the tools available. Obviously its built on the windows update database so installing updates over the network is easy. I have managed to install software packages without any issues at all, if anything I am very impressed with it so far. The only issue that I am having is updating .exe applications. When you install a MSI program it gives you the option of including an uninstall string but when the software is a .exe this is not an option.

I recently pushed out VLC media player using the "/S /NCRC" silent call, a few days later I noticed that there had been a revision of the software so I unapproved the old version and created the new software distro with the new version. When a machine picks up the new update it stops installing on a “remove old version” dialog box. so then I then tried to create the new version in the update section, much to the same problems.

Can anyone tell me what I am doing wrong?

Regards

JC
Answered 08/20/2008 by: johncouzins
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