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ScriptLogic Tools for Empowered Network Administrators

If you manage a Windows-based network,then you already know that most of your day-to-day management chores revolve around redundant, user-centric tasks. Your time is wasted on tasks like drive mappings, Outlook profiles,desktop shortcuts,and Service Pack updates. At first,these are done at each workstation, by hand (groan!). Then you smarten up a bit and realize there are a wide range of tools to help you get this work done. Most administrators use one or more of the following:

Native Microsoft Technologies(such as logon scripts, roaming profiles and group policies)

Drive Imaging Products(such as Symantec Ghost or PowerQuest Drive Image)

Software Packaging Products(such as Wise Installer or Prism Deploy)

Desktop Management Tools(such as Microsoft SMS or Altiris Client Management Suite)

With these tools, you begin to proactively administer networked computers and decrease time spent managing and administering end user specific settings. However,since no single tool comprehensively manages your desktop and user configurations,a number oftools are used. So many times the combinations of tools do not work well together and can even inject a new level of complexity into
your routine.This is where you need a single desktop administration tool to simplify the use of your existing suite of management tools, by either eliminating one or more of the tools that truly are not getting the job done well or by allowing the existing management tools to focus on the tasks they do best. The introduction of a desktop administration tool will offload those redundant and time-consuming desktopconfiguration tasks.

The purpose ofthis white paper is to demonstrate how combining desktop administration software, such as ScriptLogic®, will not only enhance how you manage your desktop environment, but will also enable you to get more done with less effort in ashorter period oftime.

We will do this by showing how the previously listed tools cannothandle well both the redundant user tasks and the day-to-daychanges needed in an ficient,timely,cost-effective manner.

Most administrators characterize desktop administration asmore ofthe ?set it and forget it?support ofend users.That isinstead of reacting to a desktop?s needs, you are proactivelyapplying predefined policies to a desktop using a single pointofadministration.There is very little hands-on with desktopadministration because the solution used is automaticallyapplying the settings and policies you have previously defined

Let?s begin with the most common solution administratorschoose to use; the free tools found natively with Microsoft?sproducts.Then we?ll look at the use ofdrive imaging,softwarepackaging software and desktop management tools and seehow each solution doesn?t meet all ofyour needs.

ScriptLogic Tools for Empowered Network Administrators

Native Microsoft Technologies - Management the Microsoft Way

There are a handful of tools built into Microsoft Windowsservers that allow you to do some basic network management.One of the most common is the logon script. Because everyuser takes part in the log on process,there is little chance ofauser being overlooked,as can happen when applying updatesmanually.Also,ifa user does not connect to the network forlong periods of time, any updates or changes listed in thelogon script will be waiting on them when they reconnect.

Typically, network administrators have their preferredsoftware "toolkit" to perform logon scripting:

Shell Scripts/Batch Files? The most popular method omanaging your NT network is to use logon batch files oscripts,because it is free.Batch file support is built in to theWindows operating system.

KiXtart? The most widely used scripting language, is alsoa free utility. KiXtart is the scripting language ScriptLogicis based upon.

VBScript / Windows Scripting Host ? Another Microsoft supported technology built into the operating system. While more powerful than batch files,Windows scripting is a science unto itself.

Perl or other scripting language? Not as popular on Windows platforms as on UNIX and Linux,some network administrators use Perl to try to manage network users.

While each ofthese solutions is a viable tool to perform desktopadministration,either they lack the validation logic to selectivelyperform tasks (e.g.:no native way with any ofthe above solutionto select portable computers only), they cannot nativelyperform the tasks needed (for example, making a registrychange from a batch file),or quite simply the amount oftimeit would take to write, compile, test, debug and fix a properscript that has the validation granularity and functionalitynecessary would dominate all ofyour time.

A proper desktop administration tool takes the concept ologon scripts and allows them to be more powerful while easierto manage.You have total control over what happens at logonand logoff. Tools, such as ScriptLogic, allow you to determine exactly which user and which computer shouldget the necessary changes, push out those changes (such asone-off Registry changes, printer and drive mappings, andfolder redirections), without the need to compile and testbefore implementation.

Another popular way to try to manage users is throughGroup Policies and Roaming Profiles. Group policies cameinto power with the release of Windows 2000 and 2003.Through group policies,you can make desktop configurationchanges and push applications to specific users based on theirgroup membership.Roaming profiles allow you to ?un-tether?your users from their desktops by storing core user informationcentrally on the network.

Desktop Administration tools don?t do away with these usefultechnologies, but take over where these technologies left off. Group policies only work with Windows 2000 and XP desktopswhile desktop administration tools cover all Microsoft desktopOS's.Even ifyou are a 2000/XP shop,group policies still cannonatively perform tasks like modify the registry, add printersmap drives, and push out OS-specific service packs, so thneed for a desktop administration tool still remains.

Roaming profiles require disk space not only on the serverbut on each and every workstation the user logs onto. Thealso take up precious network bandwidth at logon and logofcopying the roaming profile down to the desktop and back tothe server.Desktop Administration tools instead redirect all othe user?s personal configuration data,such as cookies,browsefavorites,desktop icons,and My Documents onto the serverNow only the server space is required and bandwidth is preserved while yielding the same roaming experience to the user.

Native Microsoft Technologies - Management the Microsoft Way

Drive Imaging Products - Perfecting the Desktop Image

Since most desktop administration involves ?set-it-and-forgetit?configurations,some administrations have chosen to create the ?perfect desktop?(that is,one that has all the configurations made to it),and then make a disk copy,or image,of that ?reference?desktop to be duplicated out to every machine in the company.

When you want to set up a new PC, you push the reference image to the destination PC.You can take a blank hard drive and within minutes,have a fully functioning system complete with operating system and applications. This saves a lot of time when building a new PC and greatly reduces the chance of human error during the software installation phase. This, ofcourse,will only work ifeither you have exactly matching hardware, or you have all the necessary drivers loaded onto the reference desktop and are willing to spend the time after the image is written to a new PC ensuring all the hardware was properly found. The other drawback is there is no userspecific information on the new system,with the exception of anything saved in the Default profile.

A desktop administration solution is a great complement to drive imaging tools.With the addition ofa desktop administration tool,disk images need only include the base operating system and applications.The end user?s configuration would be handled by the desktop administration tool.Ifyou do not use desktop administration,you have to go to each recently imaged desktop and create the user?s account,mail profile,shortcuts to network applications,printers,and the like.

With a desktop administration tool such as ScriptLogic, everything the end user needs is automatically pushed to them as soon as they log in for the first time. While drive imaging speeds up the OS and software installation process, ScriptLogic eliminates visiting each PC and manually defining the user-specific application settings, such as Outlook profiles and Internet Explorer settings. All of this can be set centrally in ScriptLogic, once again saving time and effort,and eliminating the ?human error?element.

Drive Imaging Products - Perfecting the Desktop Image

Software Packaging Products - Packaging the Solution

Whether your desktops are setup using a drive imaging solutionor are installed by hand, creating software "packages"is a veryefficient way of distributing preconfigured or customized applications to end users. Using a variety of third party tools, such asWises Installer and Prisms Deploy, network administrators cantake an application and create packages for specific users basedon their needs.

These packages are also distributed across thenetwork from a centralized installation point.The one pointto take notice ofis that these packaging tools only create thatwhich is to be distributed; they do not do the distributing. Getting the correct package to the right user,as well as finalizing any user-specific settings,such as data location or other Registry settings,is where desktop administration comes in.When a user logs on, a desktop administration tool such as ScriptLogic can check to see ifthe package has already been installed,and ifnot, launch the installation.

You can easily choose who should receive the package from the centralized ScriptLogic console,and best of all you can "set it and forget it."No matter when the user logs in, whether its today or next month, they will receive the package. This helps make sure that all ofyour users are up to date,no matter when they log into the network.Using the many different validation criteria, you can additionally customize how and when software is installed on the clients PCs.

Desktop Management Tools - Close But No Cigar

Those IT departments that can afford the expense ofdedicated servers,software and staffchoose to utilize Desktop Management software, such as Microsofts SMS and Altiris Client Management Suite.These tools help you deploy applications,
manage your software and hardware assets,perform software metering and distribute security patches. These are very comprehensive solutions,but also tend to be complex to use,

very expensive,and require additional server resources. Ifyou already have a Desktop Management solution in place, a desktop administration solution enhances your existing tools by providing elements not found in them natively,such as printer deployment,mail profile creation,Outlook settings, and folder redirection. If no Desktop Management solution is currently in use,you may find that a desktop administration tool will adequately perform the same required tasks with the needed administrative granularity, without the added
complexity and cost.

Desktop Management Tools  - Close But No Cigar

The origins of a platform

As companies began to move away from Novell NetWare networks in the mid- to late-1990s to Microsoft Windows NT-based networks, network administrators quickly found out that they were giving up some of the management featuresthey had taken for granted.NT networks lacked true centralized domain desktop administration and had virtually no native logon scripting support.Instead ofmaking network
management easier, NT networks began to require more time to administer than their NetWare counterparts. As Microsoft released Windows 2000 Server, and even with Windows 2003 Server, there are additional management tools built into the operating systems, but you are still left with batch files, group policies, and user profiles to try to maintain users and desktops.

In 1999,after an exhaustive search for a management packagethat would fill this void,ScriptLogic Corporation was formedand development began on NTScript, the precursor to thecurrent ScriptLogic product line. ScriptLogic automatestime-consuming and repetitive administration tasks bycombining logon scripting,user profile management,andsecurity policies into a single easy to use,GUI-based managementconsole.Thus,the first intuitive logon scripting managementsolution for NT was created.

As ScriptLogic released NTScript, they not only created apiece ofsoftware,but also ultimately created an entire softwaregenre.Four years after pioneering the ?Point-and-click logonscripting?market, both product and market have maturedOther companies have tried to copy ScriptLogic, but withnearly 2 million licenses in use, ScriptLogic leads both interms ofmarket share and product innovation.

The origins of a platform

Competing Products to ScriptLogic

Before ScriptLogic came along, there were no scripting/desktop administration solutions that were easy to use andthat were cost effective.Over the last four years,a handful ofcompeting products have been released. ScriptLogic is theonly application that has an extensible API yet is very intuitiveto learn.Other products can require overly complex scriptingor configuration,are very expensive,or just plain don?t do asmuch as ScriptLogic.

When it comes down to it, you have to be able to justifyspending money on the utilities you need to administer yournetwork.You will find that while each utility in use has a distinctservice to perform,using ScriptLogic alongside ofthem willgreatly enhance their usability and further reduce your desktopadministration time. ScriptLogic is so fast and easy to use,that it quickly pays for itselfin the time saved pushing the firstset ofpatches to hundreds ofdesktops.ScriptLogic will notreplace any ofyour tools,but it will make them better,and inthe end,make your desktop administration more efficient.

Competing Products to ScriptLogic

ScriptLogic Download of Manuals & Related Material

ScriptLogic Administrator Guide

ScriptLogic Getting Started Guide

ScriptLogic and ActiveDirectory GPO's

ScriptLogic and SMS 2.0 Comparison

ScriptLogic Essentials Tools for the Administrator

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