This article is part of the SmartDeploy Whiteboard Series
Three to four hours. That is how long it usually takes to manually install Windows, updates, and the additional software required on a new computer. If you had to do this 50 times every time your organization schedules a new hardware rollout or Windows update, that quickly adds up to 200 hours of labor-intensive work.
For greater levels of efficiency, most organizations look for a reliable, repeatable process to set up new machines. Computer imaging software increases efficiency and mitigates the risk of manual error — and saves IT teams time in the process.
What is computer imaging software?
Computer imaging software creates and captures OS images, effectively allowing the same operating system and configurations to be redeployed on another device. Companies often use computer imaging software to provision employee desktops or laptops, fix corrupted devices, or schedule software updates, configuring endpoint devices to organizational standards.
The typical imaging process starts with building a reference machine on which you install all the updates, drivers, and software you need, configure the required settings, and capture that state into a single file. That file is then deployed to the respective endpoint machines in a much shorter time.
There are two primary imaging solutions most companies consider — traditional sector-based imaging solutions (referred to as “disk cloning”) and modern file-based solutions. Understanding the key differences helps you to choose the right solution for your organization’s needs.
Sector-based imaging is a traditional approach to imaging that involves creating an exact copy of a computer’s hard disk and applying that copy to an identical device. One of the major limitations of this approach is that you would need to create and maintain an image for every single hardware model within your environment. One machine per image per hardware model is required — a hefty investment in terms of money and storage space for all that additional equipment.
File-based imaging, in contrast, involves creating images that consist only of the unique files captured. This approach offers much greater flexibility since it allows you to create an image based on the software you need for particular use cases or user groups, instead of the device manufacture and model. You can create and maintain one golden image that can be deployed to any hardware, streamlining the deployment process and the size of your image library.
So, how do I deploy to different hardware models?
With conventional imaging software and methods, as explained earlier, you would need to create and maintain different reference machines containing hardware-specific images for each make and model. This is not the most efficient approach, especially as your company grows and more devices are introduced.
SmartDeploy is a great example of a file-based imaging solution that can help you to streamline and simplify the process. It’s easy to use, applicable to organizations of all sizes and skill levels, efficient, and best of all, hardware independent.
SmartDeploy’s unique and highly efficient imaging solution works for any hardware model
Unlike conventional imaging software, SmartDeploy offers much more flexibility. OS images, device drivers, and applications can be deployed as independent layers. With SmartDeploy, you only need to create and maintain one hardware-independent golden image, deploying that to set up new hardware or to reimage existing hardware as needed.
Having to install and manage device drivers across multiple platforms is a time-consuming and tedious task. To help get around this, SmartDeploy comes with access to its library of 2,500 pre-built, model-specific device driver packages, also known as Platform Packs.
One of our most popular features, Platform Packs are created and maintained by SmartDeploy’s team of driver experts. Many Platform Packs also support multiple OS versions and are fully customizable. Instead of updating each image manually, you simply download the corresponding PPK file from SmartDeploy’s library to your IT workstation.