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This is specific to Windows domain based networks.

Is there a popular 3rd party software for central management of the network - as in for managing installations, patches, updates, remote power-on, shutdown?

Or do they rely on simply group policies to get things done?

What's the norm in the industry?

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closed as too broad by HopelessN00b Dec 5 at 11:08

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2 Answers 2

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In my experience, it depends on the size of the enterprise and their requirements. Many can get away with just using Active Directory GPOs for Application Distribution, workstation/server configuration etc. and WSUS for patch management. If you are running mainly Microsoft Apps, this works just fine in most instances.

It starts getting complicated when the organization starts getting larger, there are more sites and the types of application that need to be distributed and maintained increase. In many cases (again if Microsoft Apps are the norm), remote WSUS servers can be installed, and remote distribution points can be configured.

Eventually, though, there reaches a point where you need a suite to properly manage and distribute software (especially if you aren't using Microsoft software, which WSUS can't patch). Microsoft's solution for this is System Center Configuration Manager; there are definitely others, though I am not going to recommend any, as I don't use them. SCCM is a beast, and while exceptionally powerful, it isn't something to enter into lightly. If you go down this path, expect a roll-out period of several months, minimum.

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In a former life, I used Altiris Deployment Suite and Altiris Client Management to manage a computer lab; the products are now owned by Symantec. My experience has shown that Symantec makes products worse, I would seek commentary from a current user of the suite before spending any money on it.

It had capabilities to do

  • Remote Deployment via PXE or special network booting partitions on each machine
  • Application management via pushed scripts, pushed files.
  • Reporting of what was installed where
  • Pushing of patches
  • remote shutdown

The only real annoyance was that their network boot partition screwed with some software activation systems; I'm looking at your Macromedia and your completely unacceptable use of the boot records to store activation data.

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