Automated software deployment

Software Deployment

Distributing software to all machines in a network can be a daunting task for IT Administrators, especially at large enterprises. With an ever-growing number of endpoints, it is becoming a real challenge to roll out software across organizations. Desktop Central allows you to distribute software packages and automate software deployment in all the computers across your network across Windows, Mac and Linux from a central console, without user intervention. 

Desktop Central comes with a feature-set that has the following advanced options to offer greater flexibility and control over the software deployment process:

Automate software deployment - ManageEngine Desktop Central

Pre-defined application templates

For deploying applications, you first need to create software packages, which can get tedious. Desktop Central has over 4,500 pre defined application templates, complete with install/uninstall switches which can be used to create packages instantly. This saves time and makes the process of software installation faster and more accurate which helps you automate software deployment.

Self Service Portal

One of the most common task of an IT admin is deploying requested applications to users, for which a lot of help desk tickets are raised regularly. These tickets usually take up lot lot of time and resources to resolve. Using Desktop Central's self service portal, you can empower users to install applications on their own. All you need to do is publish most commonly requested applications to the self service portal and reduce the number of help desk tickets raised significantly.

Pre Deployment activities

One of the major reasons for software deployment failure is that the target computers don't meet the prerequisites. It can take up a lot of time to figure out the exact issue and then troubleshoot it accordingly. Desktop Central's pre deployment activities let you perform condition checks and apply configurations before installation, to ensure that the target computers meet all the requirements and have all the configurations set up.

Post Deployment activities

The automated software deployment process is not complete even after the software has been installed. You need to ensure that the application is accessible to user, all the previous versions have been uninstalled, shortcuts have been set up and all the application specific configurations are applied. Desktop Central's post deployment activities allow you to apply follow-up configurations, run custom scripts, change registry settings, create shortcuts, create/append path, and much more after the installation.

Software Repository

All the software packages which are created using Desktop Central's automated software deployment tool are stored in a central Software Repository. Once saved, these packages can be reused multiple times. There are two types of software repositories available in Desktop Central: Network Share Repository and HTTP Repository. Network Share repository is used while deploying software packages to LAN agents and HTTP repository is required for deploying software packages to WAN agents.

Installation/uninstallation using the same package

Creating different packages for installing or uninstalling the same application can get tedious. In Desktop Central, once you create a package, it can be used to perform both the operations for MSI, EXE, MSU, APPX and MSP applications.

Schedule deployment

Downloading the software packages and running the executables takes up a lot of processor's resources, which may lead to reduced performance while deployment and hence loss of productivity for employees. To prevent this, you can deploy software packages within a suitable time interval by configuring a deployment policy. This allows you to install applications on the desired day/date/time, within a preset time window. Scheduling software deployment at off-hours helps bring desired results in terms of cost as well as performance within your environment.

Desktop Central allows you to copy the necessary installables to the client computers before installing or uninstalling applications. This can be configured while setting up the deployment policy. It is optional and when selected will speed up the installation/uninstallation process.

Install applications as a user

Desktop Central supports installing or uninstalling the application as a specific user. By default, all applications are installed as "System User", which the Desktop Central agent has access to.

Desktop Central has worked very well for us. We use the Software Deployment feature very often to roll out remote software installations to multiple computers. It has saved us a lot of time and effort. The support is outstanding, technicians will quickly diagnose the problem and the few times I required a patch it was available next day. Really GREAT!
Michel Sargentini, Certis Europe B.V.

What is Software Deployment?

Software Deployment is the process of remotely installing software on multiple or all the computers within a network simultaneously, from a central location. The word "Software Deployment" is generally used in the context of a large network (more than 20 computers). Software Deployment comprises but is not limited to the following activities:

  1. Creating and maintaining up-to-date and ready-to-install software packages
  2. Configuring the target computers before the installation or uninstallation of the package
  3. Installing or uninstalling the software on the target computers
  4. Configuring the target computers post installation or uninstallation
  5. Upgrading existing software.

Software deployment diverges into patch management and IT asset management for software updates and to have complete control and visibility over the software installed across your network.

Software Deployment Methods

Deployment methods based on package creation:

Automated software package creation (via templates):

A template refers to a predefined application that can be downloaded and deployed to multiple target machines. Desktop Central has over 8,000 applications listed as templates that can be used to create packages. You can also automate template updates for Windows, meaning every time there is a new version of the software, the corresponding template will be updated automatically.

Manual software package creation:

If the required software is not available in the Templates section, Desktop Central allows you to create Windows and Mac packages. These packages are stored in the software repository to enable installation on the client machine as required.

Deployment methods based on user access: 

Deployment by Administrator (via web console):

This is a standard deployment approach in which Desktop Central allows administrators to distribute applications to target machines remotely. Administrators can deploy software from a centralized web console with silent installation switches in place.

Self installation by the end user (via Self Service Portal):

In this scenario, administrators can publish a list of software on the Self Service Portal which can be accessed by the end user from the system tray. End users in the same network have the option to access this catalog of software and choose to install them without asking the administrator every time, allowing administrators to empower end users to install software based on their needs. As a result this software deployment approach minimizes time and effort. Administrators can also add or remove software published in the Self Service Portal at any time.

Software Deployment Strategy

Software deployment strategy plays a crucial role when it comes to deploying software packages in a network. It involves a list of tasks that one is supposed to check off in order to ensure successful installation or uninstallation of software(s) across multiple endpoints. It may be a checking for free disk space, creating a shortcut post installation or executing a custom script. Such tasks and checks form the basis of a software deployment strategy. In Desktop Central, these tasks are categorized as pre and post deployment activities. You can use these software deployment checklist while configuring a software package.

Pre-deployment checklist before installation/uninstallation:

  • Checking if software already exists.
  • Ensuring minimum free disk space.
  • Checking registry key/ Value
  • Specifying the file/folder name
  • Configuring processes such as executing custom scripts, creating or deleting a shortcut etc.

Post-deployment checklist after installation/uninstallation:

  • Creating or deleting a shortcut.
  • Creating or appending a file path.
  • Copy, move, rename, delete files and folders in computers.
  • Executing custom scripts.
  • Changing the registry values in workstations.
  • Configuring applications to run as Windows service.

Why do you need an automated software deployment solution?

All the above mentioned activities can be taken care of manually or via an automated software deployment solution. Doing it manually might be fine if you have a network of say, 15 computers, but anything beyond that becomes labor intensive and cost ineffective and is prone to redundancy. Even after having multiple technicians working on it manually, one cannot guarantee that all endpoints have the latest versions of software installed and configured. Hence, you need a centralized software deployment automation in place for all your software deployment needs.