I work for a laptop university that uses a Win2K environment with Active Directory. Our population will be growing from 2000 to 5000 users over the next couple of years. The vast majority of our users are students with PC laptops while a small portion use MAC Powerbooks. Every year we use Ghost to distribute new laptops as well as refresh the existing laptops with new images. The university has many programs, each one having a 4 year term. All of our programs have specific software requirements, some totaling 10 gigs of additional software. Students have the option of choosing their course electives from other programs outside there area of study as well as from other years from within their own program. In short we have massive images and tons of software (some as big as 3 gig like MS Visual Studio 2003 with MSDN) to distribute. I want to be able to image all the laptops with a base image and give the users access to all of the software they need. Another option would be to have 1 base image per program to eliminate some of the larger installs. Some software I would like forced and others I would like as an optional install. I would also like the ability to automatically add/remove software if a student changes programs or courses mid year. Security Patch Management, Remote Management and License management would also be of interest. I have done some light research on companies and products such as ManageSoft, Altiris, LANdesk, SMS and just AD with Group Policy. I just found this website yesterday it is excellent. Does anyone have any suggestions based on the information I have provided. Can AD with group policy do everything I need considering our size and the large numbers of software to be packaged?

I forgot to add we have a budget of about 150K

Thanks,
Ron
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Greetings!

For the larger apps (like VS.net), I would still maintain different base/core images which you deploy by hand using Ghost.

Example: Build1 = Engineering Students, Build2 = Comp Science students, etc. That sucks, because you have to maintain seperate base/core images. BUT I have not found a workaround, since you don't have a lot of bandwidth for these laptops. Maybe you can get all your laptops upgraded to Gigabit and then change all your routers and swithces... :)

Regarding the other software you want to distribute, since you're already in an AD environment, look into using GPOs. The only problem with that is that your applications must be packaged/repackaged as an MSI.

It's also not too terribly difficult to have someone from your group code up a custom solution... I've done this sometimes, using registry keys (not foolproof) to tell me which apps have already been installed (and what versions they are).
Answered 11/10/2004 by: sean_c_roberts
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Hey Sean,

I think your right that I will have to maintain a small number of core images due to the size of some of the applications. All student laptops will be gigabit next year but we won't be changing our switches any time soon. Some of the solutions I have looked into from ManageSoft, Altiris and LANDesk offer bandwidth throttling and as long as we don't force all software to load at once I doubt bandwidth would present much of a problem. The only issue here is cost as the cheapest of these solutions is Altiris at $52 node X 5000 =$260,000 U.S. and I have only $150,000 Cnd to spend. I have pretty much settled on the fact that we will have to purchase either Wise or Installshield for MSI files regardless of the solution we choose because Ghost's AI builder or any Snapshot packager is not 100% stable and should only be used on similar hardware and software configurations. I do have a few coins to throw at this. Any other ideas.

Ron
Answered 11/10/2004 by: rskaz
Yellow Belt

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I am in a simillar situation, i work for the Richmond school district in British Columbia, we have about 1500 PCs that we need to support, we do all of our app deployments via group policy in Active Directory, it is not bad, but I have seen some problems with bandwidth. I use Administudio 6 to create MSIs and Transform files. Have you looked into Educational pricing, make sure that the vendor knows that you only have X amount of dollars to spend, they will typically lower the price for you. Keep in mind that a $150,000 CDN sale is better than nothing, you need to let them know that, otherwise there will be no sale at all.
Answered 11/10/2004 by: cdupuis
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...also, is your university part of Microsoft Select agreement? If so, look into the discounted pricing of SMS 2003, it is very cheap for us to get it, would be about $80,000 for 60 servers and 1500 workstations with our educational select agreement.
Answered 11/10/2004 by: cdupuis
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Hi cdupuis,

ManageSoft quoted at $100 U.S. per seat and gave no discount for education. Their total price came to over $760,000 for everything not including the 20% they want each year for support. I won't even bother asking for a better price from them due to this obscene first quote. I just had no idea that this software would cost this much. I agree with you that $150,000 is better than nothing but after I find what everyone recommends I will see what I can do about lowering the price but I would like to be somewhat in the same ballpark before I do so.

We are a part of the MS select agreement but I haven't heard too many glowing recommendations for SMS. How big are your installations using GPO within AD and how customizable can you make them, throttling, resume, software heal etc.

Thanks,
Ron
Answered 11/10/2004 by: rskaz
Yellow Belt

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Hi Ron!

We are just in process of launching a Software Deployment product totally based on Group Policy and it will probably provide all the functionality you need. The price range for about 5000 seats is about 50k USD including maintenance.

If you want to check us out feel free to get the beta preview version at http://www.specopssoft.com/forum

The release date is very near in the future. We are talking weeks at the most.

Good luck ang again, welcome to our forums!!
Regards
Robert Lundh
Special Operations Software
Answered 11/11/2004 by: Robert Lundh
Senior Yellow Belt

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