Recommendations for system imaging software & to install software updates/upgrades for small law firm

I am in the process of creating a new standardized windows desktop image for small law firm. The basic IT requirements are as follows:

4 Lenovo machines with different hardware
45 Users of these desktops

Each machine gets Office 2003, CD Burning Utilities, UltraVNC, some freeware, etc.
Each machine gets legal software (Summation, Legal Solutions Plus, California Jury Instuction Selector and others)
Each machine gets access to each office printer and driver, etc.

Each user's profile is stored on the Windows 2003 Server and we are going to deploy XP SP3.

I'm looking for simple inexpensive recommendations on software that will allow me to create one image for all four systems (I know about Sysprep and I have an old version of Symantec Ghost). I would like to deploy images via external HD and over the network booting from a CD or floppy (and ideally the software will create these CDs and floppies). What do you recommend for that?

Also, monthly and quarterly updates are released for the legal software. Sometimes they are updates and sometimes they are completely new installs. Some are MSI some are not. All machines will need to get these updates. I would like to completely automate this process so I do not have to go to any of the machines or VNC in.

What do you recommend for this? If possible, I would like to control XP and Office updates this way, too.

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What we use at our work that looks like it would do a good job with your requirements is Altiris Deployment Solutions.  Symantec recently bought out Altiris, but Altiris still has its own network loadable imaging solution.

In case you were wondering, no I am not an Altiris salesperson, but I am a satisfied customer.

You can find out more at:

This is only one suggestion of course.

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ALso look at the Ghost solutions SUite frpm Symantec which handles remote imaging.

I doubt that you can get a single sysprep image to work, and would definitely not recommend it unless the hardware is extremely similar.

You can certainly try and I hope that you succeed, but it may be easier and faster to have 1 image for each type of hardware, and since it is only 4 kinds, it is not too bad.

I hope this helps !
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I will second that Ghost solutions suite will do what you are asking for. you can send out packages, send out ghost images over the network without CD or floppy, take images live while the person is using their workstation, and much more.

With regards to patching, i would invest some time learning and using microsoft WSUS as its free and does a good job - of course not as good as Altiris, but you do have to fork out some money for Altiris.
sweetseaterAuthor Commented:
I've done some more research and reading and I think more clearly, these are the things I want:

1) Something that will allow me to create an Hardware Independent Image and then load the right set of drivers while imaging the machine

2) Something to allow me to deploy software updates that are not just from Microsoft or MSI installers.

If I could find one product that does both, I'd be pretty happy.

SysExpert, three of the four machines actually share Chipset, NIC, Audio and video drivers so it wouldn't be so bad, but I'm planning to throw a Dell in there next year and I want it to be smooth if I can get the hardware independent imaging working.
um why would you want a hardware independent image? why not just make one general image that includes all the drivers you could possibly need? Ghost will do this.

then once you have the general image, just update that from time to time, tell the users to store their files on a network drive or locally at  their own risk ( you can always warn them before you roll out an update) and bam, update the whole office at once with a multicast ghostcast from a local server implemented over the internet from your home/whatever.
At our work, we perform both of your required operations at our work.  We are able to do both with Altiris DS.  In actuality, we have two different images because we have some computers that have the old type of HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) which is not compatible with the new type of HAL, but SYSPREP allows us to make the image work on several different types of platforms.
Altiris DS also has a console that will allow you to put an agent on all computers that allows you to centrally push a program file or a script to any list of computers desired.  With the few amount of computes that you have, Altiris DS should work just fine.
sweetseaterAuthor Commented:
I've found a product I'm looking closer in to that seems to take care of a lot of my needs in one.

It's called Empirium Pro.
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