What distribution tool would you recommend?

I've been asked to look into all the different software distribution apps out there as we're going to change practically everything to do with our desktop/software deployment early next year.

I've used ZENWorks for some time now and have briefly used older versions of SMS and Radia.

So......has anyone got anything good/bad things to say about what they're using? Can anyone recommend one over the others from previous experience? Has anyone got a matrix comparing what's out there?

(if there is a previous post out there, could you point me in the right direction)

Cheers, Mike
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I was hoping you'd get some replies, as we're in the same boat.
We have approximately 100 PCs, and we figure SMS and Altiris are overkill for our size, but not sure what else would give us what we need....
Answered 08/21/2007 by: smason
Orange Belt

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Specopsdeploy is very easy to get up and running. Tjeck out http://www.specopssoft.com/products/specopsdeploy/

Binds to AD and a client side agent. Very easy to use. :)
Answered 08/21/2007 by: sebastian
Yellow Belt

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Hi,

No easy task this one. It will depend on many factors as to what you want out of it, versus your organisations needs. A matrix might not be too easy to cover all the products out there either. If you can give some more details on numbers of users, geographic spread, types of apps (Windows / Unix etc) I'll give it a go.

[8|]
Answered 08/22/2007 by: rjm67
Yellow Belt

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Hey rjm67,

So my organization has just under 1000 users and it's spread over 3 cities. Lets assume that all of my apps are for Windows (no UNIX apps).

The setup that I came into at this company is a big mess at the moment, currently it's designed so that our software can't be distributed overnight and it's installed when the user logs on. It's also setup so that I can't take advantage of using Self Healing/Advertised shortcuts. So I'm assuming that anything else is going to be better than what we have now. That aside, here's a list of things that I'd like in my distribution software (I think most/if not all of them should be standard, which is why I was asking if anyone prefers one over the other). I'd also like it if you can specify multiple conditions in each job.

-The ability to install overnight with either the user logged off/logged on/PC turned off or when the user next logs in.
-To sync files from one location to another.
-Ease of creation an management of jobs
-A calender or similar to display which jobs are set to run on specific days.
-Something where you can select the order of jobs to run.
-where you can launch multiple items in a specific order
-Good reporting or even realtime reporting (I know the new Zenworks has this)
-Something that simply dumps files/reg keys/ini values
-The ability to launch an install from a path containing and environment variable
-To have jobs qualify on location, AD group, username, rek keys/values exist/not exist, file exist/not exist/version/date/size, model of pc, computername, environment variables/
-At login only
-Overnight only
Specifiy job start/end dates
-run on specific days/dates/time
-where you can list exit codes to be ignored


Any suggestions of what to use or not to use would be great !

Cheers, Mike
Answered 08/23/2007 by: michaelnowell
Second Degree Blue Belt

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Well if you want to simply deploy software to systems you can use the Remote Software Installation utility from Install Solutions. It's definately affordable and great to have even if just as a backup tool. However, it won't do some of the items that would require a client to be installed. I have used SMS and looked into Altiris and some other suites a great deal but none of them offer all of these features.

Here are the ones from your list from an SMS perspective.
-The ability to install overnight with either the user logged off/logged on/PC turned off or when the user next logs in. - You can say to install Only when User Logged on, but not Only when Logged Off. There is a Wake On LAN component that I have heard of but not used. If you use Dell PCs then check out their Auto Power On solution in the BIOS.
-To sync files from one location to another. - Nope
-Ease of creation an management of jobs - Fairly...until you begin to have many.-A calender or similar to display which jobs are set to run on specific days. - Nope, however, this information is in the SQL DB so you or someone else could write an interface.-Something where you can select the order of jobs to run. - Nope
-where you can launch multiple items in a specific order - Nope, well you can do chaining, but doesn't work well.-Good reporting or even realtime reporting (I know the new Zenworks has this) - Several reports, but the reporting is usually delayed. Certainly not realtime.
-Something that simply dumps files/reg keys/ini values - Nope, have to use WiseScript for this.
-The ability to launch an install from a path containing and environment variable - Yes. As long as the Environment variable is a system variable.
-To have jobs qualify on location, AD group, username, rek keys/values exist/not exist, file exist/not exist/version/date/size, model of pc, computername, environment variables/ - Mostly. You can create collections (groups of targeted computers or users) based on all of this information. But you have to tell SMS to collect it first and then it queries the DB. Poor design. Bad M$, bad!
-At login only - No, but can do it when the user is logged on.
-Overnight only - Yes you can set it to install at a certain time.
Specifiy job start/end dates
-run on specific days/dates/time - Yep. You can set it to run on a specific date and time and stop on a date\time. But you will have to set multiple advertisements to accomplish this.
-where you can list exit codes to be ignored - Nope. SMS just returns whatever the exit code is. Anything other than a 0 is not considered a successful installation.
Answered 08/24/2007 by: yarborg
Blue Belt

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BigFix! After years of struggeling with SMS (Tivoli before that), we made the decision to go with BigFix and have never looked back. It's real time, very robust and the support is excellent.
Answered 09/04/2007 by: Dix
Yellow Belt

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ORIGINAL: michaelnowell
So my organization has just under 1000 users and it's spread over 3 cities. Lets assume that all of my apps are for Windows (no UNIX apps).

The setup that I came into at this company is a big mess at the moment, currently it's designed so that our software can't be distributed overnight and it's installed when the user logs on. It's also setup so that I can't take advantage of using Self Healing/Advertised shortcuts. So I'm assuming that anything else is going to be better than what we have now. That aside, here's a list of things that I'd like in my distribution software (I think most/if not all of them should be standard, which is why I was asking if anyone prefers one over the other). I'd also like it if you can specify multiple conditions in each job.

i have some experience working with enteo NetInstall, LanDesk and SMS. For an installation of your size and your requirements, i'd rule SMS out unless you have a very tight budget and are already involved in some kind of license agreement with MS that makes it really inexpensive.

While NetInstall is very strong on the targetting and scripting side (own scripting language with about b80+ commands builtin), it is not as strong in Inventory-integration and realtime reporting. Lets have a detailed look...

-The ability to install overnight with either the user logged off/logged on/PC turned off or when the user next logs in.

LanDesk and NetInstall can use WOL. also most distribution systems support "run at logon"

-To sync files from one location to another.

not sure what you mean about that. If <you want multisite/multiserver support (replication between distribution servers), LanDesk can, NetInstall can, as can SMS. If you are talking about just any files you want to have synched, none do that out of the box, though you could do that by (ab)using SW disrtibution jobs. I'd prefer a replication solution independent of the client management solution, though....

-Ease of creation an management of jobs

each tool has its own philosophy and thus requires a different approach, but all i've seen allow that.

-A calender or similar to display which jobs are set to run on specific days.

nope

-Something where you can select the order of jobs to run.

NetInstall and Landesk both allow to define dependencies between packages, which is basically exactly that function. NetInstall maybe being more versatile at that

-where you can launch multiple items in a specific order

see above

-Good reporting or even realtime reporting (I know the new Zenworks has this)

both tools do that (NetInstall only in version 6). I daresay that feature is not too important in a policy based environment, though. All i really need is feedback on jobs that didnt work...

-Something that simply dumps files/reg keys/ini values

Landesk doesnt have a builtin packager (well they have an ancient one but its unsupported now), so its up to you mate. NetInstall has a very strong built in packager that can do much more than that. Unfortunately, its script language is proprietory.

-The ability to launch an install from a path containing and environment variable

yep

-To have jobs qualify on location, AD group, username, rek keys/values exist/not exist, file exist/not exist/version/date/size, model of
pc, computername, environment variables/

LanDesk targets based on inventory data and since that is excellent, it knows every bit about your target machines. NetInstall does these checks in RT on the client before installing. Yoiu can also use LDAP queries to target based on the AD structure.

-At login only

yep

-Overnight only

yep

Specifiy job start/end dates

yep

-run on specific days/dates/time

yep, well almost... those systems are agent based and will start jobs depending on their own internal timer (like, say, every 2nd hour after logon or startup)

-where you can list exit codes to be ignored

trickier than it seems at first glance. When running black box installations, most systems rely on exit codes cause thats the only feedback they have. But both systems can be scripted around that.

hope that helps, in my experience both systems are very good client management solutions and are very capable to help you a good deal.
Answered 09/07/2007 by: Martin.Appel
Senior Yellow Belt

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Hello,

i'm from Germany, so my English is not very good. Sorry! I have worked with Active Directory GroupPolicies and Remote Installation Services in W2000 for 1500 clients. It works fine, if you only use MSI packages and you have not so much software products in use. If you want to use with a classic deployment suite, i would take Matrix42 Empirum Pro again. I have used this suite over 3 years and now i'm working with Landesk (new company). In comparison Empirum Pro is really better.

Empirum includes OS deployemt, software deployment, profile migration, driver configuration, reporting, patchmangemet and so on. I think the differences are in the details.

- big scripting engine
- scripts for software distribution and os deployment are plain text and you can customize a lot!!
- you can set software dependencies and installation orders
- profile migration for every software packages you define - its checks for defined regkeys or files whether one software is installed or not. if yes it saved the personal settings (you must configure) and restore it only if the software is installed one the new client
- create hardware profiles and you can add specific driver or software for specific hardware profile
- has hardwaredetection and only copies this drivers for os installation which are necessary
- can configure ldap sync with AD
- selectiv user rightsmanagement
- application usage tracking
- can define various variables for scripting
- patchmanagement for windows with more features like WSUS
and so on
- supports wol deployment

It's also setup so that I can't take advantage of using Self Healing/Advertised shortcuts.
--- Empirum has its own check routine whether software is installed or not. in combination with MSI its great (i have repackaged every software as msi)

I'd also like it if you can specify multiple conditions in each job.
--- what do you mean with job? software distribution? date and time scheduler?

The ability to install overnight with either the user logged off/logged on/PC turned off or when the user next logs in.
--- can do all this! and much other combinations! e.g. WOL, ability to deny 3 times for user and force installation after or force installation from a specific day. you can set this settings for every softwarepackage on every client group much´more

To sync files from one location to another.
--- you can create depot servers (xp, w2000, w3000) an can configure schedueld syncs

Ease of creation an management of jobs
--- very easy. only drag and drop a softwarepackage from softwaredepot and assign it to a client or group in a tree. in my opinion best practise is to sync Active Directory structure into Empirum an drag & drop packages to the OUs for standard software and so on

A calender or similar to display which jobs are set to run on specific days.
---that you can see in the distribution config file for each client

Something where you can select the order of jobs to run.
---for software distribution you can use dependencies and installation order

where you can launch multiple items in a specific order
---in every Empirum package you can make an order for something like MSI, EXE, BAT, vbs and so on

Good reporting or even realtime reporting (I know the new Zenworks has this)
--- builtin reports based on crystal reports and accessed on actual database (inventory, rollout state, application usage tracking)

Something that simply dumps files/reg keys/ini values
--- use Empirum Script Engine

The ability to launch an install from a path containing and environment variable
--- is possible

To have jobs qualify on location, AD group, username, rek keys/values exist/not exist, file exist/not exist/version/date/size, model of pc, computername, environment variables/
--- its possible to script with Empirum script engine -maybe you should do this in silent mode

At login only
--- possible configured by Empirum Agent or you can set a condition for each software package

Overnight only
--- possible by using the scheduler (can set for each softwarepackage) with a time range

Specifiy job start/end dates
---possible by using the scheduler (can set for each softwarepackage) with a date range
run on specific days/dates/time
--- yes

where you can list exit codes to be ignored
---you can use Empirum script engine to decide, which errorcode ends in installation abort

softwarepackage in Empirum View means a Empirum script wich can do a lot of things e.g. run msi, exe, vbs, bat - set variables - read regkeys, ini files during run and use this as an if condition

King regards

Viper
Answered 09/20/2007 by: viper9000
Yellow Belt

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