Microsoft has delivered some manageability tools long promised to IT administrators, and it has moved ahead on the development of a key patch management tool.
The two feature packs for SMS 2003 are the Device Management Feature Pack and the OS Deployment Feature Pack. Gates also said MOM 2005 is now available worldwide.
In addition, Microsoft made public its Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment tool, a template that offers prescriptive guidance -- usually to partners who are preparing to deploy desktops for the enterprise -- using "zero touch" technology. Zero touch means that no technician is required to be at the same location as a desktop that is being managed.
Microsoft's goal has been to get customers off older desktop systems and onto Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Office 2003. For many enterprises, this will mean upgrading or replacing hardware, not necessarily doing an operating system deployment. "[Most enterprises] are probably more interested in reimaging the system, but making sure that user data and preferences are saved," said Peter Pawlak, an analyst at Directions on
Pawlak said a zero-touch scenario could look like this: A user logs off a workstation, and if the workstation is new hardware, that user might come into work the next day and find their system is totally reimaged. No one has physically touched the remote machine. It might be running Windows 2000 one day, and the next it is on XP SP2 and a new version of Office. "The settings and data are all intact," he said.
Pawlak tells customers using the OS Deployment Pack to make sure they do a lot of testing. One small, improper assumption or lack of a complete understanding of your system, and you might only get 90% of your installations right. The remaining problematic 10% might be spread throughout your enterprise, he said.
"Companies with standard configurations for desktops will do better than those that do not," he said.