Software Distribution is one of those unglamorous but utterly essential items in the SysAdmin’s toolbox. It’s never talked about unless it screws up. We visited one of our larger UK customers recently, where Asset Manager Pro has been teamed up with the Software Distribution module. It was a little after half-way through November, and the lady who single handed runs those products to look after around 11,000 PCs in a highly distributed environment, pointed us to the Software Distribution log. It showed over 13,000 successful distribution instances for the first half of the month, a mix of application installations and updates and updates to OS add-ons such as Java.
Partnering the essential but unsung Software Distribution is another element of functionality that gets even less mention – Dynamic Groups. This is how the SysAdmin is able to target a distribution to precisely the right set of PCs. A Dynamic Group allows PCs to be selected on the basis of any combination of their characteristics – whether hardware, OS detail or installed software. So an update could be targeted at all the PCs running a particular version of a particular application on a given version of Windows and a specific version of Internet Explorer. The characteristics are stored in the SQL Server Asset Database and groups defined through a natural language query generator that spits out the SQL Select statement to generate the Group at the instant it’s needed.
Silent, background, privileged software installations and de-installations, plus automated PC-by-PC targeting; a handy combination for anyone still managing an estate of Windows PCs.