Saturday, January 17, 2009

Replacing Altiris with Configuration Manager

Altiris has been around for a while now. It hasn't changed much since I first used it, in terms of functionality at least. It's under the Symantec jackboot now, and it'll be mildly interesting to see what becomes of it. I've got to admit to not always being the world's biggest fan of Symantec: my experiences with Norton AV haven't ever left me with anything approaching joy, and on the few occasions I've had to use them, the Symantec product support mechanism has frequently left me at entirely the other end of the spectrum of joy, to the point where I've wanted to chew my own hand off.

But that's by-the-bye. My point is that Altiris is, for us at least, now approaching the point where we're looking round for a replacement. As an educational institute we get really good deals from Microsoft under our campus agreement, so I've been looking at Systems Center Configuration Manager. From reading the blurb, it looks like there's nothing that this won't do.

What it can tie in with and what it needs in order to run effectively are confusing me right now. I already know that it speaks to our WSUS server and imports some of the stuff from there. How the software packaging side of things works is a mystery to be solved.

The biggest mystery at the moment though, is how to get the client software to install. From within Configuration Manager there's about five different options for pushing it out. Configuration manager can see my clients - it imports them from AD - but I'm not getting any joy with any of the installations. There's just nothing happening, and the thin, dusty trail in the logs is proving to be fruitless.

I have no doubt I'll solve it eventually, but right now Altiris lives. And that's important because it's this time of year we re-image all our desktops and push out all our software for the upcoming academic year. So far, it's been totally trouble free.

And right there you see our difficulty. There's so much we can potentially do by becoming a one-stop, Microsoft shop. What we're seeing already though, is that the costs we save are going to be offset by an increase in the difficulty of replacing 3rd-party systems like Altiris, like VMWare, that became popular because they work.

That doesn't mean the challenge isn't a valid one. Once all those clients are out there for this year; once all our students are in and settled; I'll be bringing more and more of these projects forward from the back burner, looking towards the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm having a look. Deal with it.