Small businesses can struggle with system deployments due to budget constraints, lack of resources or a shortage of IT personnel.
When your small business hires a new employee, best practices suggest that you first wipe the hard drive of the machine you are preparing, install a fresh copy of the OS image and configure any additional apps or services that the user may need.
What if there was a way to automate system deployments so that your IT staff isn’t spending the majority of their time staging new machines for users?
Let’s explore some of the options available to system administrators in small businesses.
Microsoft System Center and Control Manager
Organizations that want to streamline system deployments can gain value from the Microsoft System Center and Control Manager (SCCM) suite.
SCCM provides administrators with the ability to deploy operating systems, third party software, system configurations and much more with a click of the mouse. SCCM allows you to organize your systems in collections, simplifying the creation of customized deployments based upon the job responsibilities of the end user.
The only downside to SCCM is that the suite can be time consuming to configure. Another potential con of SCCM is the licensing cost. For just a hundred users, your organization could spend over $10,000 when you factor in the cost of a new server, agent licenses and server licenses.
While sticker shock could factor into your decision, experts agree that SCCM is the most complete deployment suite for system administrators. To help you make your decision, Microsoft provides a free 180 day trial of SCCM for you to use within your environment.
Investing in SCCM will help your organization reduce overhead and deliver services faster. When new hires are brought into your organization, administrators can rapidly select the targeted machines and remotely deploy everything the end user would need to do their job.
ManageEngine’s Desktop Central
If your organization is looking for suite that helps streamline system deployments, ManageEngine’s Desktop Central is designed to help you achieve your goals.
Desktop Central is a browser based app that allows you to perform sophisticated tasks such as automatic patch deployment, OS deployment and software deployment. Desktop Central is easy to setup and even easier to use.
From the web browser, an administrator can perform day to day tasks such as remotely viewing a user’s desktop, inventorying the software installed on a PC or generate customized reports that give your organization the metrics it needs to make more intelligent decisions.
The pros of Desktop Central are obvious; Desktop Central’s licensing costs are more in line with what a small business would expect to pay. Pricing starts out at just $500 but these costs could increase as you add more employees onto your staff.
The cons of Desktop Central is that platform is not as widely documented as a suite such as SCCM. As a result, ManageEngine regularly hosts webinars that train administrators on how to get the most out of this deployment suite. Use these sessions to your advantage or watch the archived videos to get an idea of the functionalities associated with this software deployment suite.
Spiceworks + PDQ Deploy
Spiceworks is one of the most popular system administration suites. Many IT departments use Spiceworks to gain detailed analytics on all of the systems connected to their network. The Spiceworks systems administration suite also has a built in help desk, which allows end users to submit tickets on general IT issues.
Best of all, Spiceworks is free, which is one of the reasons so many IT departments have implemented it within their environments. Spiceworks provides administrators with detailed reports concerning the devices on your network, but the suite lacks one critical feature: Software deployment tools.
This is where Admin Arsenal’s PDQ Deploy comes into play. PDQ Deploy is a freemium app that gives your IT team the power to deploy software to any device on your network. PDQ Deploy’s free version will integrate into Spiceworks, allowing you to manage your systems with Spiceworks while deploying software using PDQ Deploy.
When you buy the full license of PDQ Deploy, you will gain access to a library of commonly deployed applications such as the latest versions of Adobe Flash, the Citrix Receiver, Adobe Reader and more. With the free version, many of these predefined software deployment templates are unavailable.
It is important to note that the free version of PDQ Deploy allows you to create your own deployment templates using any application setup file. PDQ Deploy remotely installs software silently on the machines connected to your network. PDQ Deploy can deploy PowerShell scripts, MSIs, EXEs, Windows Registry files and much more.
While PDQ requires a bit of expertise and ingenuity to perform advanced tasks, many IT departments have begun utilizing both Spiceworks and PDQ Deploy as a low cost alternative of managing and automating software deployment within their small business environments.
If your Greenville, SC or Atlanta, GA area business is in need of a professional consultation concerning your business class network, contact Wolf Technology Group today at (833) 482-6435 or fill out our form in order to get a quote for your organization’s networking needs.
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