All,

I work for a very small company that provides all IT services to a bunch of small businesses in our city. We are currently looking to try to setup some sort of software management system that we can use for our clients (ie repackaging and distribution of software). Currently we are using freeware tools for repackaging and GPO for distro, but we are finding that these solutions don't always meet our needs. I ask the knowledgeable members here for suggestions of what we could possibly use in our situation. Since we are a small company and our clients are VERY frugal we are looking for very low cost options. Are there any solutions out there that anyone knows of that have special licensing for our situation as an external provider? Most distro software that I have come across seems to license per seat and we would have a very hard time paying ourselves for that and would also have a hard time passing on that cost to the client.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
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Softgrid is now dirt cheap. It has licensing, distribution, and packaging all in one product plus it is an application virtualization solution. There is no server side licensing so you could deploy this solution for $36 a desktop but there is a five seat minimum. The only thing that this solution cannot do is deploy kernel level changes. Take a look at it for yourself but with the current pricing model I think this solution might be feasable for smaller companies.

www.softricity.com

I am double checking the pricing because the per seat pricing might be a bit lower. Also they include Zero touch which is a handy self provisioning solution for applications that might be of some use. With virtual applications you might be able to cut down on packaging time because the packages if done correctly can be extremely portable.
Answered 11/09/2006 by: kkaminsk
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The only thing that this solution cannot do is deploy kernel level changes.
How about those tight connected OS applications like IE, MDAC and so on?
Answered 11/10/2006 by: AngelD
Red Belt

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As for those applications it depends so I should make it clear it isn't totally cut and dry as being kernel or not. If the app is part of the OS it can get a little tricky.

MDAC you can plug in older or newer DLLs. (from what I have been told)
I have never done IE but I know one guy on Softgridguru is trying to do IE7. He hasn't said if he was successful.
.Net 1.0 and 1.1 will package with Softricity but .Net 2.0 does not. (I think they are working on it)

Other application like Oracle, Java, MSJava will package with Softgrid.
Answered 11/13/2006 by: kkaminsk
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Thank you kkaminsk for the reply, did you manage to get the updated pricing?

We'll give this thing and evaluation for sure.

I'm still open to other suggestions, especially if anyone happens to know of a product that is licensed per Admin rather than per Seat. A good product with that kind of licensing would be ideal for a business like ours. But any other low per seat cost product suggestions are also welcome.
Answered 11/14/2006 by: exstasis
Yellow Belt

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Sorry, I am still asking around for confirmation on price.


As for more traditional methods you could leverage GPO even though making packages that distribute with this infrastructure tend to be a little more difficult to make. You might want to look at SpecOps deploy to enhance the application management using GPOs. http://www.specopssoft.com/products/specopsdeploy/Default.asp

As for packaging tools most companies will do just fine using the base version of Wise. I only recommend clients to buy the higher end versions if they are 4000 or more end users or have money to burn. If you are not going to buy something at the level of Wise or Installshield I would stick with a freeware solution but that is partially due to lack of experience with low end products.
Answered 11/14/2006 by: kkaminsk
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Check out InstallSolutions.net. Our Solutions Suite has just about everything a small business would want in deploying and gathering information from their environment. The software is very affordable.

Michael
Answered 01/05/2007 by: yarborg
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ORIGINAL: yarborg

Check out InstallSolutions.net. Our Solutions Suite has just about everything a small business would want in deploying and gathering information from their environment. The software is very affordable.

Michael


I just had a look at the website, and it looked so good, I told my boss to get his credit card ready.
However, after trying the demos I was somewhat disappointed.

I really want to like these products, as the pricing is quite attractive and the licensing model is great!

Unless I'm missing something, it will only deploy apps that have a single install file? I tried deploying an app with a custom .exe (compiled autoit script) that calls msiexec /i package.msi transforms=transform.mst and it failed miserably.

Also the remote system query tool looked really promising, but it fails to connect to many systems in my domain "unable to connect, initialization failure", even though as a domain admin, I can do anything to them from my computer.

Has anyone else tried these?

Thanks,

Steve
Answered 02/02/2007 by: smason
Orange Belt

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Hey Steve,

Thanks for the feedback. When deploying MSI's (even ones wrapped in an exe) you may need to use the ALLUSERS=1 switch as well. The reason for this is that most MSI's by default will install for the current user, being the user account deploying the software, and then no icons appear for anyone else. However that may not be the problem here. I have never tested it with an Autoit script before. You can download a test exe to deploy to the machines just to be sure everything is working OK. Get it here. It runs silently pauses for 5 seconds and writes a small text file to the C:\ of the target computer. If this works then you know the tool is working. Maybe the package needs to be in a different format.

As for the Remote System Query tool, it sounds like a WMI error. WMI remotely is such a pain sometimes. I don't know how it gets messed up but it happens pretty often. Here is somone that had a similar problem and used a simple bat file to fix it on the problematic computers. You can do a quick test for WMI to remote computers by doing the following:


  • From the run box type: wbemtest and hit enter
  • Click the "Connect..." button
  • In the first dialog box that says "root\default" change that to "\\remoteComputerName\root\default"
  • Enter any credentials if necessary
  • Click the "Connect" button and see what happens

If you get an error then you know WMI is hosed on the remote PC. Google the error and see what comes up. Sometimes the fixes are easy. Sometimes not. It's generally important to fix it though because WMI is so necessary for any management tool.

Sorry for the long response. I also want to hear from anyone else's experience.

Michael
Answered 02/02/2007 by: yarborg
Blue Belt

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Thanks for the prompt reply. I'll do some testing on the software deployment, and report back.

Looke like you're corrrect about the WMI issue, I'll investigate that too.

Thanks,
Steve
Answered 02/02/2007 by: smason
Orange Belt

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Turns out we had some wmi problems on a few computers. The script at the link you posted fixed a few of them, and through troubleshooting that, I discovered some missing repository folders on a few others. Thanks!

There are a few things about the interface that I find annoying (can't type in the import location box, have to browse to it, can't save settings to run again later, have to exit and restart to change the query) are , but it looks like a very useful tool. I'll play with the deployment tool next, might have to buy after all :)
Answered 02/02/2007 by: smason
Orange Belt

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We just release a new set of tools. The web site has also completely changed. With the new versions you can save the settings and use them again later....that was a big request we had to add. Also, you can now stop a query or deployment and go back, make some changes, and pick up where you left off or start over.

Thanks again for the feedback.

BTW - The new tools use .Net 2.0 Framework so you will need this on the box running them. 2.0 has better threading capabilities and I have seen some nice improvements from this update.
Answered 02/13/2007 by: yarborg
Blue Belt

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