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Automated software deployment using DeepFreeze and Active Directory and possibly others

Posted on 2009-04-07
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We have 600 or more workstations in a school environment that are frozen with Deep Freeze.  

We need the ability to centrally deploy any software to these machines from a central location.

From what I have read there are options in Active Directory that will allow you to deploy software using MSI's.  I realize not all softare applications have MSI's but there are tools available to create them.  Bear in mind, this is all conceptual as I've never used this. (we aren't currently using A/D but still using Novell.  Although this is changing).

With this concept in mind, I have some questions:

1.  Can you deploy software through Active Directory to a 'computer' and not to a 'user'.  Hence, deploy software to a lab environment.

2.  I understand the machine must be restarted and/or logged in for the deployment to take place.  Which is it?  I can remotely restart a computer but remotely logging it in is not practical.  Since the machines are using DeepFreeze I will have to either put them in Maintenance Mode or thaw them out.  This requires a reboot.  If the softare was deployed on that reboot without having to log in, I could see this working.

3.  Windows updates have been a big burden using DeepFreeze.  What is the best method for deploying them?

4.  Is there a much better solution to what we're trying to do.  Nothing is too drastic, if it will put us where we need to be.  My assistant has looked at solutions from KBox and Altiris.  For the cost, I don't see the big advantage vs. using the above method.

Could someone please shed some light on deploying software to workstations using Deep Freeze (or even the best solutions for workstations NOT using DeepFreeze)

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Question by:LockDownLance
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Americom earned 2000 total points
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1. yes.
2. you can deploy either way.
3. The best method is via Microsoft SMS and now call SCCM.
4. The more you do with software deployment, you more you will realize that it would be easier for Microsoft themselves to keep up with their product version. We currently have both Altiris and SMS. We will try to eventually use SMS.

SMS can deploy software without user intervention and can be completely silent. You can schedule it anyway you wish and can deploy 100+ machines within a few minutes. It has good way of monioring deployment status such as received, started, error, success etc. You can deploy to collections. Collections can be formed by IP, IP subnet, computer names, OS version, etc, you can pretty much create collection anyway you want such as by computer manufacture, model, etc..

It also comes with a power reporting features such as listing all computere with a specific file, or a specific program, also a specific model etc..

You can also prioritize MSI, EXE, etc to be executed in the order you wish. This is an important features as many times you may want to run on program before running the other due to it's dependencies etc.

There are many other features with SMS(SCCM), you can have one console and remote control all machine in your enviornment. I'm sure there are other features that I don't remember or don't even know if it exist...
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