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Software Distribution – Getting It There. Erick Engelke & Daniel Delattre. Nexus Software Deployment. 3,576 computers 1,750 in student or public areas 1,826 in private offices or research labs Automated software delivery is a big part of the Nexus promise and solution

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software distribution getting it there

Software Distribution – Getting It There

Erick Engelke & Daniel Delattre

nexus software deployment
Nexus Software Deployment
  • 3,576 computers
    • 1,750 in student or public areas
    • 1,826 in private offices or research labs
  • Automated software delivery
    • is a big part of the Nexus promise and solution
    • necessary to keep system administration scalable

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

challenges
Challenges

Deployment of Windows Software

  • Reliable
  • Effective
  • Automated
  • Targeted
  • Upgradeable
  • Removable
  • Secure

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

requirements
Reliable: software installs properly or returns error report for debugging

Effective: fast, without user intervention and without user frustration (boot time)

Automated: remotely managed, workstations can be rebuild easily

Targeted: able to add software packages to specific group

Upgradeable: able to manage and deploy software upgrades

Removable: able to remove software reliably

Secure: must expose no new security risks

Requirements

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

possible solutions
Possible solutions
  • Manual installation
  • RoboCopy
  • Active Directory Group Policy Objects
  • Third party commercial solutions
  • Open Source solutions
  • Others?

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

manual installations
Manual Installations
  • Somewhat reliable: vendor supported, but not always identical results
  • Not very effective: need to visit every workstation
  • Not automated: manually insert CD
  • Targeted: one workstation at a time
  • Upgradeable: manual process
  • Removable: manual process
  • Reporting: during installation process
  • Insecure: exposes administrator password

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

robocopy
RoboCopy
  • Reliable, similar to the Watstar nightly refresh
  • Not very effective. Works best on identical images and identical workstations
  • Automated, but only suited for file copy installations, not for MSI or executable installs
  • Upgrade or removal process involves overwriting or deleting files
  • No reporting tools

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

active directory gpo s
Active Directory GPO’s
  • Reliable for smaller software packages
  • Only for MSI software packages
  • Automated: build into Active Directory
  • Effective for initial installation
  • Upgrade process not very reliable
  • Removal process not very reliable and not very flexible; only remove package from GPO!
  • No reporting tools provided by Microsoft

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

third party commercial solutions
Third Party Commercial Solutions
  • There are several options available
  • Nexus has 3500+ clients and growing – most products become very expensive with these numbers
  • Commercial systems are often less extensible than open source – which means less flexibility for our needs
  • Most tools offer excellent reliability and reporting

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

open source solutions
Open Source Solutions
  • Not many open source tools available
  • WPKG: popular and flexible, last updated July 2006, good support
  • ANI: less flexible, identical systems, includes OS, no upgrade or removal process, last updated 2005
  • Unattended: includes OS, not flexible, identical systems, last updated 2004
  • SDS: similar to SMS, command line only, not very flexible, last updated 2005

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

current environment
Current Environment
  • Nexus uses Active Directory GPO’s
  • Not all software comes with MSI packages
  • Some software is very unreliable to install
  • Upgrades or uninstall is extremely unreliable
  • Once software is unusable, it becomes very hard to detect and fix
  • Microsoft offers no reporting tools

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

gpo issues
GPO Issues
  • Repackaging: capturing unrelated, unnecessary or even damaging elements
  • Hardware dependencies: capturing hardware information
  • Logic: capturing removes logic, such as compatibility, other components and hooks to other installed software
  • Large software packages: seem to install less reliable

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

gpotool
GPOTool
  • Locally developed tool
  • Looks for broken software
    • Initially used for lab of 120 supposedly identical computers.
    • Now used many places on campus
  • analyze delivery reliability – to fix broken and assure quality
  • can reset flags on individual computers to reinstall software
  • able to uninstall software
  • reporting capability

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

gpotool observations
GPOtool Observations

Reliability of GPO’s in a 120 station lab

  • Microsoft Office – 100%
  • Microsoft Visual Studio – 97%
  • Nexus Common Applications – 96%
  • Altair Hyperworks – 89%
  • Ansys – 85%
  • MasterCAM – 81%

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

open source wpkg
Open Source: WPKG
  • Software deployment, removal, updates
  • Offers push and pull features
  • Deploys MSI, InstallShield, other vendor supported formats
  • Supports layered images – like GPO’s
  • Files can be distributed for better total scalability
  • Limited local and remote reporting
  • Very small footprint

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

wpkg overview
WPKG - overview
  • Software Packages defined – e.g.. Matlab
  • Packages can depend on other packages
  • Stations profiles defined - list of packages
    • e.g.. All computers in a given lab
  • Profiles can extend other profiles
    • e.g.. scanner machine is superset of generic lab
  • Computers are assigned to profiles

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

wpkg example
GAFF Lab

Microsoft office

SSH

MatLab

Other scientific software

GAFF Lab with Scanner

Scanner software

Inherit rest from GAFF lab profile

WPKG - Example

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

gaff lab example
GAFF Lab Example

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

wpkg web tool
WPKG – Web Tool
  • WPKG uses XML files to list packages, profiles and computer names
  • XML is hard for users to enter but easy for software to parse
  • Administrators need shared access
  • We added a web based interface and database backend for WPKG - XML generated as needed

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

wpkg busy warning
WPKG Busy Warning

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

possibilities
Possibilities
  • Configure PC client software from any web browser
  • Perform reporting for gauging software license renewal interest
  • Reduce duplication of effort in packaging software
  • Truly handle software life cycle including upgrades/uninstalls

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

our plan 2007
Our Plan: 2007
  • We currently use GPOs extensively – this will not change anytime soon
  • We will use WPKG too
    • Initially target only difficult or unreliable installs
    • Monitor the results and refine our tools

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

resources on the web
Resources on the Web
  • wpkg
    • http://www.wpkg.org
  • GPOtool
    • http://www.eng.uwaterloo.ca/~erick/nexus/gpotool.exe

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

questions
Questions?
  • Any questions?
  • Open discussion.

WatITis | Enabling The 6th Decade Plan Through Effective I.T. Collaboration | December 6, 2005 | Software Distribution

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