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Imaging Solutions for the New Millennium

Is your company struggling with its migration plan to move to Microsoft Vista or Windows Server 2008? Does your IT Staff dread the thought of having to deploy new hardware in your enterprise environment? Do you still have technicians that run around with a handful of CD’s to deploy a new PC in a remote location? Do you have a separate image for every hardware platform in your environment? If an employee PC hard drive crashes, does it take more than 2 hours for your IT department to redeploy their system? Is your company still running Windows 2000 or maybe better yet, NT 4.0?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, don’t be embarrassed; because the truth is most companies today (both large and small) still struggle to migrate from one Operating System to the next.

At the heart of the issue for most companies is an ineffective strategy to rapidly create, maintain, and deploy images that will meet the needs of their entire enterprise as a whole. It is a well known fact that maintaining up-to-date images is an expensive, time-consuming problem in most large enterprises.

Despite the fact that today’s PC’s are blazingly fast and can practically jump through hoops, most companies ‘approach to Image Management is very antiquated. Typically, the process is very manual and difficult, at best, to keep up with today’s refresh cycles for hardware and software changes in the enterprise.

The nightmare for most IT departments begins because they work in heterogeneous environments where there are multiple PC and Server platforms from different vendors with unique hardware specifications. Secondly, from marketing, to finance, to human resources, each department and individual user has distinct application requirements. To further complicate issues, the great divide between geographical regions and their language requirements makes it increasingly impossible to develop, test, and maintain images across the enterprise. Most companies deal with this challenge by creating multiple images that eventually become outdated very quickly and a nightmare to update in a timely manner.

The Challenge

What if, like magic, you could totally automate the creation of your image and what if, you could condense the dozen or so images floating around your enterprise down to a single image that was capable of being applied to any hardware platform in your environment.

Device drivers and hardware dependent software tools could load independently of each other and do it dynamically as the image loads. And what if this was a highly compressed image that could be streamed across the network to multiple machines simultaneously and would be finished loading by time you came back from your lunch break.?

Better yet, what if you didn’t have to use expensive third-party software to accomplish all of this? Sound too good to be true? Could this be imaging nirvana?

The Solution

The reality is that there are IT shops that are experiencing this state of utopia and are successfully deploying PC’s and Servers throughout their environment with just a few mouse clicks.

You are wondering by now, how is this possible? Folks, the reality is, I have worked on several such projects in the past and customers are finding out that in most cases they already have the tools that they need to get out of the dark ages when it comes to image consolidation.

So here’s the deal, there is a global giant out there in the market place called Microsoft and over 95% of all companies (both small and large) use their software products (from the Client, to Messaging, to Management) to run their business.

Moreover, most companies using Microsoft software have made a huge investment in software licensing agreements for such products as XP, Vista, Server products, SMS, SQL, MOM, etc. and the list goes on.

The problem is that most of these companies find out that a lot of these products sit on the shelf and are underutilized for the amount of money that they have spent on it.

Over the past few years, Microsoft has spent a lot of time and effort in creating and developing what they call “Solution Accelerators”. These solutions are designed to help customers deal with point specific problems and to help them realize and exploit the capabilities of their existing software and infrastructure.

One such example is the Microsoft Deployment solution accelerator, whose sole focus in life is to provide the tools and guidance for rapid image consolidation and deployment.

Formerly known as BDD (Business Desktop Deployment), Microsoft Deployment is now in its fourth generation and has really come full circle as a solution that helps customers fill in the gaps to realizing and unlocking the potential of their infrastructure that they are already heavily invested in.

The latest name change signifies the fact the product has been extended beyond the desktop and is now capable of rapid server imaging as well.

Is this cool stuff or what? Imagine a world where, with a few mouse clicks, you can redeploy a client machine and deploy a dozen or so blade servers all at the same time.

And the best of all: this is a free download from Microsoft.

So I guess if my story has a moral, it would be this: you could quite possibly already have all of the ingredients in your lab to begin transforming the way you develop and deploy images in your environment.