Desktop Installation and Administration Automation
Desktop Management Automation
Routine desktop administration tasks such as applying updates and patches consume most of a network administrator's time. Intelligently selecting and properly utilizing the tools available to automate desktop management can save money, increase system stability and performance, improve worker productivity, strengthen security, and free IT personnel to focus on strategic projects that can give your business a competitive advantage. Progent's network consultants are experienced in helping small business clients establish efficient internal processes, train desktop administrators, and integrate appropriate software tools in order to streamline administration and make sure that desktop PCs remain current, secure, dependable, and productive.
Common tools for managing Windows desktops include the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), configuring Active Directory Group Policy settings, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), and PowerShell scripts. For small businesses with relatively few installed desktop PCs, the basic set of desktop management tools and mechanisms provided by Microsoft can deliver a reasonable level of automation as long as they are combined with smart and consistent administrative procedures. For larger networks, Microsoft offers advanced desktop management capability with System Center Configuration Manager, formerly called Systems Management Server. Progent's Microsoft-certified engineers offer expert System Center Configuration Manager support and Microsoft System Management Server consulting to help companies follow industry best practices to manage their desktops efficiently. Progent also provides management outsourcing services for small businesses who want to save money and eliminate hassle by relying on Progent's certified professionals to handle their desktop management.
Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager
System Center Configuration Manager is Microsoft's premiere platform for automating desktop management tasks such as deploying and updating operating systems and applications, taking software and hardware inventories, monitoring application use, and enforcing compliance with security policies and configuration standards. Configuration Manager is essentially an enhanced and renamed version of Microsoft's Systems Management Server 2003 combined with Microsoft other popular software update platform, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). The traditional strengths of SMS Server for asset inventory, granular distribution targeting, bandwidth management, software metering, and detailed reporting have all been enhanced in Configuration Manager.
The ability of WSUS to streamline the process for approving updates and distributing software across physical, virtual, distributed, and mobile environments have been added to make Configuration Manager far more powerful than its predecessor SMS Server 2003. At the same time, Configuration Manager is more complex to deploy than SMS Server 2003 and is conceptually quite different. Whether desktop managers are moving to System Center Configuration Manager from SMS 2003 or from WSUS, they have a lot to learn.
Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 enhances many features of System Management Server and in addition introduces powerful features to streamline software set up, maintenance, and analysis. A key innovation is that Configuration Manager uses the software update point (SUP) server to replace Microsoft Update. This eliminates the delay caused by redundant scans for new updates and makes it possible to provide administration with status reports almost in real time.
New management functionality of System Center Configuration Manager 2007 includes:
Support for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2
Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager helps companies plan and execute updates and deployments of Windows Server 2008, reducing the effort required for preparation and installation while enhancing the automated management the datacenter.
Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows 7 Support
Preparation, installation, and worker migration is fully supported for Windows Vista and Windows 7. System support staff can perform bare-metal, side-by-side, wipe-and-load, or PXE installations of Vista or Microsoft Windows 7. Managers can build WIM images of an operating system and associated applications and install them efficiently using Configuration Manager's Task Sequencer and Driver Catalog.
Enhanced Asset Intelligence
The enhanced Asset Intelligence database supports categorical tracking of deployed applications. Managers can generate reports about computer owners and meter application usage patterns. The improved Asset Intelligence function of System Center Configuration Manager also offers support for integration Microsoft Volume Licensing Services (MVLS) reports.
Desired Configuration Management (DCM)
Through configuration baselines offered in Microsoft Configuration Packs and by third-party vendors or developed in-house, IT administrators can specify and monitor which computers have diverged from their targeted conditions. Network administrators can utilize these configuration definitions to improve security, availability, and performance and to enforce adherence to business policies or regulatory requirements.
Software Update Control
Software Update Management simplifies the task of distributing updates and patches to IT systems throughout an IT environment. Network managers can quickly deliver updates of applications from Microsoft and third-party vendors as well as in-house LoB software, drivers, and BIOS software to a variety of computers including desktops, notebooks, servers, and mobile devices. In conjunction with Virtual Machine Manager, System Center Configuration Manager provides a unified process for supporting physical and virtual environments.
Network Access Protection Support
Configuration Manager features built-in integration with Network Access Protection (NAP), a component of Windows Server 2008 that provides a mechanism for ensuring network stability and security. Network Access Protection provides an integrated solution for assessing the health condition of any computer trying to attach to a network. NAP intelligently restricts the client's access to the network unless the installation of required software updates has been validated.
How Progent Can Assist You with System Center Configuration Manager
System Center Configuration Manager 2007 can be challenging to install and operate to achieve best results. A successful implementation calls for an extensive background with Windows products and a knowledge of best practices in defining processes and assigning responsibilities for desktop management. Progent's seasoned consultants have broad experience helping small businesses to save time and cut costs by using Microsoft's desktop management automation solutions.
Progent can assist you in planning and configuring a robust infrastructure for Configuration Manager by providing consulting services to help you:
Extend your Active Directory AD schema to support Configuration Manager
Install and configure Internet Information Server (IIS) on the Configuration Manager server
To learn more details concerning Progent's consulting for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007, phone 1-800-993-9400 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Microsoft System Management Server 2003
Systems Management Server 2003 (SMS 2003) has been considered the most widely deployed management tool in the world and although Microsoft has terminated mainstream support, the platform remains popular. SMS 2003 offers integrated change and configuration management for Windows-based desktop PCs within networks of any size. SMS 2003 includes a centralized administrator console to control functions such as asset management, configuration tracking, deploying operating system and application changes and updates, metering software usage, and access to detailed status reports.
By automating these functions, Systems Management Server 2003 reduces the need for end user interaction or for dispatching support technicians to provide hands-on service. This makes it easier and less expensive to manage large numbers of desktop computers distributed in multiple locations and eliminates the risk of error associated with complex manual procedures. The heart of Systems Management Server 2003 is that it streamlines the ability of system managers to deploy critical updates to desktop PCs. SMS 2003 includes mechanisms for identifying which desktop computers are missing vital patches and updates, generating reports detailing these vulnerabilities, and automating the installation of these software changes.
Important features that have contributed to the continued popularity of SMS 2003 include:
Application Deployment Planning
Fine-grained Distribution Targeting
Metering Application Usage
Detailed Hardware Inventory
Security and Stability Vulnerability Scanning
Active Directory Discovery for Targeting Software Distribution
Progent's SMS 2003 experts can help you maintain or refine your current Systems Management Server environment, evaluate the business case for migrating to System Center Configuration Manager, or utilize Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) to run in conjunction with SMS Server to enhance your capabilities for automated software deployment to desktop PCs.
Desktop Operating System Migration
Migration of a desktop PC to a new operating systems or from a 32-bit to a 64-bit operating system presents special problems for desktop administrators and requires special methodologies and software tools to carry out efficiently and successfully. If you are moving to Windows 7 from any platform or from the 32-bit to the 64-bit versions of Windows 7, you have to install the target computer from scratch while at the same time dealing with possible application incompatibilities and new drivers. This can be a frustrating process when you do it for the first time. Progent's 64-bit computing consultants and Windows 7 migration experts can help you plan and carry efficient desktop operating system upgrades on individual workstations or on large groups of desktop PCs so that save time, eliminate manual errors, and limit service disruption.
Progent's network management professionals can help you automate workstation administration so that your PCs remain current, secure, and dependable. Progent's engineers have extensive backgrounds providing small businesses Microsoft SMS Server consulting to streamline network administration's workload, increase system protection, boost productivity by making sure that all patches and updates are installed, police licensing compliance, and monitor patterns of application usage to enable a more efficient purchasing plan. In addition, Progent can help you to execute a non-disruptive migration to System Center Configuration Manager from Systems Management Server 2003 for more comprehensive management automation and can help you to move to Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2.