I could use some input on deploying applications to clients. The main application I've been working with is a McKesson application for Hospital use. We have been able to script the install with simple BAT and ISS files. This works well, but obviously has it's limitations. We are also concerned about the size of the app. It's about 200mb, and we don't need 200 users trying to pull that on a Monday morning when the app gets upgraded.

I was wondering what the best way to deliver this to the desktops would be?
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One additional comment...

I'd also like to be able to push updates to the app. The previous version of the software had updates of program files as they add features for us. Basically they give us between 200-400mb of files that need pushed to the c:\program files\paragon directory. Nothing fancy, just need pushed.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
Tylan
Answered 11/11/2005 by: tylan
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I think you need to offer abit more info before board members can help out.

1) Is this app an MSI or Exe, (im assuming its exe due to bat file/iss wrapper).
2) What format do these updates come in? How regular?
3) What are you using to deploy software with ? (GP? Managment Software?)
Answered 11/12/2005 by: rahvintzu
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Sorry for the lack of information...

To answer your questions:
1) The application is an EXE

2) The updates have been single INI files, or a group of 100+ files. The developer puts them in a dir on the server and we have to figure out how to deliver them to the Program Files\Paragon folder on all the fat clients. During the last version the updates came every few weeks to the main INI file. The app files (200mb+) were updated about once or twice. I don't have a ton of info because this application is new to us. We're just trying to brace for the worst. The application is McKesson Paragon ver 6.1. This is an app used for an entire Hospital.

3) Right now we only have about 30-40 clients running. We're not going live with the app until 3/1/06. We've been pushing the updates with a single batch file kicked off manually. Once we reach the full 200+ clients it's not going to be possible to run a batch file on that many machine during off hours. (Nor do we want to!) Basically, when the developer updates the database we have until the start of next business day to have all the clients up and running.

Thanks again! I hope I clarified my original posts.
Answered 11/12/2005 by: tylan
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In my opinion there are a couple of good options for delivering software that needs to installed on many clients with a lightswitch (next business day) approach.

1. Package the software - If possible package the software so that it is in a compressed version to reduce the size of the installation and simplify the deployment. Also, this may enable you to deploy only the changes since the last release which may help.
2. Pre-Stage the installation on the clients - If you have a day or 2 in advance you can actually copy the installation to a location on the client computer ahead of time. For example, if you copied the install to C:\MyApplicationInstall.exe then on the "installation night" all you would have to do is kick off the install on the clients. This is especially helpful if the installation is large and the target audience is troublesome. There are a few ways of doing this, one is to send the clients a job that tells them to start copying the install from a share.

A few questions that may help further:
1. Do you have a way of sending the software out remotely already? i.e. SMS, Altiris
2. Are the systems in a domain or can you access them remotely with admin rights?
3. Are the systems Windows 2000 or above?
Answered 11/14/2005 by: yarborg
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I don't really have a way to send the app out. However, I did already have the idea of dumping the software out to the clients a few days in advance. I've written a simple kixscript that I run from a server and it pushes the files to a folder on each machine. It reads the machine names from a text file, pings the machine, then makes a dir on each target, and copies the files to it. In my early testing, it does work, and it seems to catch most errors. It also dumps the errors to a text file, and the successes to another file. So, I do have a method to push the files, but I'm not sure how it will fare in the real world.

Yes, we have a domain. It's Active Directory running in 2000 Native Mode.

Yes, the application is running only on 2000/XP clients. My little script accesses the machines via the C$ share.

I looked into some deployment applications, but they all seem so expensive for what we need. I looked into Install Solutions - Remote Software Install, but it seems a little basic for what I need. I've looked at some others, but I'm hesitant to put thousands of dollars into applications that may or maynot make our lives easier.
Answered 11/14/2005 by: tylan
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Another solution could be mirroring the files on the remote systems with the contents of the developers files from a common share point. You can set a robocopy.exe scheduled task to run on the clients that look to a share and mirror the differences down. So when you need to make a change you just drop the files out to the share and the remote systems will pick it up.

This really isn't a great solution if you want to standardize a deployment process because it wouldn't be the best practice for installations going forward. But if you don't have many apps to manage then it's probably worth the investment of time. Deploying small changes like an INI file too often can get tiresome. Make sure you exclude files that may be in use or customized by the clients though.

As for the Install Solutions tool, do you have any suggestions that would make it more practical in this situation?
Answered 11/14/2005 by: yarborg
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It sounds like you are encouraging us to go with what we already have and just fine tune it. Robocopy would make a great addition to our "push" script.

As for the Install Solutions tool, it looks great - - you just have to have an app that is a silent install (or package it yourself). It's not quite out yet - - I still think I'm going to play with the demo. I just think I need something that can package and deploy. The price on that Install Solutions app is great -- it's under $200, and they don't charge by the client. You'd only need one copy for most situations.

I really appreciate all the input on this post. Originally, I was looking for someone to steer me towards a particular application to get this done. So, If anyone has a favorite app to package & deplot (or a combination) I'm still very interested.
Answered 11/14/2005 by: tylan
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Based on what I've said so far.....
Does anyone have an software packages for deployment that they like? or Would recommend? We can't justify the $20K for SMS for 200 clients. We looked into Marimba and it was even more expensive.
Answered 11/16/2005 by: tylan
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Sorry i entered into this late, after asking for more info.. i have to say yarborg...offered some good advice. You pretty much stuck to scripting these updates, i cant see an easy out that wouldnt require even more work. Its painful as the vendor should really take care of creating a robust client and server update model, rather then get you to do the work, each month or two.
Most people on budgets on this forum seem to use Group policy to deploy.
My site uses SMS and admin studio...
I have used gfi languard to deploy software.. its not a pull method but, so if you need to push its not to bad.

Anyone else no any cheap deployment tools?
GP is the cheapest i can think of if you have AD.
Answered 11/28/2005 by: rahvintzu
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I've been looking at SpecOps Deploy. It adds reporting to the group policy installation services. It's agressively priced, for our organization it should be about $14 per seat. Not too shabby.

I think I'm just going to have to be real thorough with my scripts for now. Make sure that everything gets logged - so nothing slips through the cracks.
Answered 11/28/2005 by: tylan
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