Softgrid - Where do I start?

I know these questions have been asked before, but I can't seem to find the answers now that I'm looking for them myself! Hopefully some of you good people can point me right. :)

I'm looking at introducing SoftGrid into our environment, (SMS/AD/GP/XP - Wise Packaging) and I'm looking for the following:

- Is there anyone that has done an evaluation on SG, weighing the pros/cons and pitfalls, what can be sequenced vs what cannot etc? Is it freely available?

- As I'm unsure of how SG operates at the minute, is there some trial software I can play around with to set up a demo so I can prepare myself for a pilot phase?

- In terms of learning how to sequence, are Tim Mangan's videos on tmurgent.com the best bet? Do MS provide training courses as of yet? I'm an experienced packager so I'm thinking the learning curve shouldn't be too steep, eh?

I've had a look on softgridguru.com, which is excellent from a tech perspective but I couldn't find what I was looking for (mind, i didnt look too hard!)

Thanks for your help!

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Answers (7)

Posted by: BadShadd 12 years ago
Orange Senior Belt
Wow - that's a loaded question & could take a while to even get an 'incomplete' answer, but I feel your pains.

1. I conducted an evaluation of the application virtualization market back in Oct - Dec 06 for my customer & they choose SoftGrid. Some of the criteria / concerns we addressed were: 15 minute end-user recovery, patching, resilency, license tracking, asset monitoring, ... Addressing SoftGrid only, the virtualization capture portion is where all the major work is - client software setup, user authorization/administration, architecture configuration, etc. are fairly easy & can be automated / deligated. SoftGridGuru.com has a few threads dedicated specifically to what are NOT good application candidates for SoftGrid, but generically any app that requires drivers at installation time (not included with the OS) or background services that launch at system startup will most likely NOT be candidates for SoftGrid application virtualization.

2. MAV 4.5 (new MS SoftGrid name) is publically available for testing at no charge because it's still beta, but SoftGrid v4.1 SP1 HFRU2 (non-SA customers) & v4.2 HFRU2 (MDOP for SA customers) are available for download. These are licensed products, but can be obtained through the MS web site. You can also find setup guides & sequencing information on their site as well.

3. In my eyes, Tim Mangan is 'the Master' - I have a lot of respect for him & other true SoftGrid Gurus. Tim's videos may be hard to understand at first, but playing with the product & reading the forums / blogs will bring you knowledge up to speed in no time. There are MS webcasts available for free, but if you're looking for official training you'll need to search the web. There isn't currently a SoftGrid certification course available through MS, but it's being worked now & will most likely be covered as a portion of MDOP certification.

If you're already a software packager, SoftGrid should become fairly easy to work with at a quicker pace.
Posted by: BadShadd 12 years ago
Orange Senior Belt
2 blogs that I review daily which are filled with information for newbies & experienced SoftGriders are:

Njoy reading!
Posted by: Chipster 12 years ago
Blue Belt
As I tell everyone about it here, "Sliced bread has met its match" when it comes to SoftGrid.

Now all technical things aside. First and foremost, if you don't currently have Software Assurance on your Windows desktops, I wouldn't bother getting into this. Microsoft has basically taken SoftGrid for desktops off the market as of June last year. It's not longer available for purchase. If you are a SA subscriber, the only way to license it now is to add the MDOP (Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack) on your EA.

Now that being said, you can still purchase SG for terminal servers and do the same thing you'd do on a desktop, but then you have to have a TS or Citrix environment.
Posted by: shuffle 12 years ago
Orange Belt
Hi there. In terms of learning, have a look at what Kevin Kaminski and Tim Mangan are doing with their Softgrid Training - I work with Kevin and know the sort of work and development that goes into the course - it's a fantastic experience. Check out http://www.bighatgroup.com for more information.

As someone else mentioned, if you are not an SA customer, why not consider VMware Thinstall for the same reasons?
Posted by: dm1 12 years ago
Blue Belt
Thanks to all who replied.

Some good pointers there to get me started!

All the best.
Posted by: dm1 12 years ago
Blue Belt
Hello all,

I downloaded the 4.5 beta and sequenced my first app (standalone mode) using their example. A few questions on how this was achieved because the guide doesn't go into much low level detail.

1. Initially the application's (wordviewer2003) installer size is around 12MB. Once I've sequenced it the softgrid package size is around 40Mb. Am I correct in thinking that this is because the sequencing monitoring process checks to see what system components/files/registry WordViewer uses and then adds them into the application, effectively creating a mini operating environment? Is the net result that all applications will have a hefty storage overhead?

2. Are applications run from the Q:\ drive? I realise this is a fairly basic question. I just need to be sure.. I havent had the benefit of training yet.. :)

3. It seems to take about 10/15 seconds to load the application - is this normal? This is a relatively small application - should I assume that something like Office takes a lifetime to load?

Thanks for taking the time to help me out.
Posted by: kkaminsk 12 years ago
9th Degree Black Belt
1) It should mostly be adding only what the installer has installed or changed with regard to the sequencer's OS. Remember the installer is compressed and the virtual environment will also have a virtual registry. Still the ratio you are seeing seems a bit high but you might want to open the package for upgrade and see how big that folder on Q:\ drive is. You can compress the sequence so that the sequence is smaller but the client will have to decompress it which will add client CPU overhead. Another method to reduce traffic is to define feature block one while sequencing.

2) You should install to Q:\ when possible because that has the lowest overhead. Ultimately all the file system data inside the sequence is remapped to a folder on Q:\ for that sequence.

3) Launch time is very application specific. Turning the LOCAL_INTERACTION_ALLOWED flag in the OSD to TRUE can help but isn't a recommended practice. Installing directly to Q:\ is another way to optimize performance.
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