Top features: Driver packs, Sysprep, single-image management

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Spencer Dunford|August 6, 2013
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We recently reached out to the Spiceworks community of more than 2.5 million IT professionals for some feedback on SmartDeploy. We are thrilled with the feedback. The list of praises could go on forever from Spiceworks users, but I want to focus on their favorite SmartDeploy features.

Customer testimony often best highlights a product’s strengths, so I’ll let the IT pros do the talking for us.

Virtualization approach/single-image management

Murph: “I like the single image aspect. We are a small shop but still I am juggling and trying to update 3 different images.”

Jvpci: “The single image aspect is genius, allowing the reduction of storage. I’m definitely bookmarking SmartDeploy for future use.”

I think these comments capture the key differences about the unique features of SmartDeploy and describe its fresh approach to imaging and deployment.

With SmartDeploy, IT pros take advantage of the power and flexibility of virtualization right from the start. Using a virtual machine (VM) as a golden reference computer, IT pros start down the path toward hardware independence and single image management right away.

Because the golden reference VM has no hardware-specific drivers or information, all subsequent images of that reference computer are also hardware independent. Drivers and all hardware-specific information is dealt with as a logically separate file from the image. That is, SmartDeploy lets you keep hardware and software information separate.

Updates for software needs aren’t exacerbated by hardware differences, which customers really love. We know many IT pros manage multiple images for different hardware types to deal with specific department needs, which makes SmartDeploy’s single-image management such a favorite among Spiceheads.

Best of all, users achieve the simplified manageability offered by progressive desktop management solutions like virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) without sacrificing end-user experience (let alone cost, implementation complexity, or licensing nightmares!).

Platform Packs

Uncklose: “…Platform packs are a real time saver and best feature…”
SYasher: “I like that you can ‘surgically’ add drivers and update the bios”

ACedar: “The platform packs seem to be a great feature. The tons of provided packs plus the ability to make your own is what we are looking for in our purchasing decision on an imaging solution. How you handle cross platform is a big reason why I will be recommending this solution.”

Platform Packs are the other element of SmartDeploy that allows for single-image management. Platform Packs are model-specific, downloadable driver packs for endpoint devices—stored and managed separately from the image.

At deployment time SmartDeploy injects only the drivers for the specific device that you are deploying. Adding support for more devices is simple: Just download a file for that device and import that into your main driver repository. At deployment time, SmartDeploy queries the target device and injects only the precise drivers that are needed for that device and installs them at boot time.

SmartDeploy is the only solution on the market that lets users manage drivers in this way, removing driver headaches from the deployment equation. Interestingly, I hear that driver pain is almost always the biggest deployment headache.

In addition to having access to a library of more than 650 pre-created Platform Packs, Spiceheads love the ability to customize each driver pack and tweak anything they want for each particular device. But, in most cases, they simply create one default pack that contains all the drivers for every device in their environment.

Automatic sysprep

Wahlah: “the best thing about it is that it doesn’t use Sysprep!”
Rober9096: “I liked the idea of not having to run Sysprep…”

It tends to be pretty in the weeds, but dealing with Sysprep is critical for imaging. It has to be run to maintain imaging compliance and success. Typical deployment products require IT pros to Sysprep their reference device prior to capturing it as an image.

Syntax is different between OS flavors. Additionally, you can only run Sysprep a limited number of times on a reference system before you have to rebuild it. So, IT pros need to learn what the right process is initially, then they have to constantly rebuild devices over time to keep up with their image update schedule.

SmartDeploy, however, runs Sysprep automatically at deployment time, which lowers complexity for users. Because you can apply updates seamlessly over time, SmartDeploy helps keep image libraries compliant and secure, which makes it possible for you to maintain your reference machine and images indefinitely.

Of course these three features, are not the only things people love about SmartDeploy. To see what others had to say, you can read the responses on the SmartDeploy page on Spiceworks.

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Spencer Dunford

Spencer was a SmartDeploy employee.

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