ON Technology Integrates with W2K for Remote Installation

When the time comes to deploy Windows 2000 Professional across corporate desktops, the task will be arduous.

To help, Microsoft Corp. is including the Remote Installation Services (RIS) feature. RIS is designed to help administrators remotely install Windows 2000 on desktops across the enterprise.

A problem with RIS, however, is that it requires DNS Server, DHCP Server, and Active Directory. RIS cannot be used until all three features are in place. Simply put: RIS can only be used in a Windows 2000 server environment.

Also, remote installation via RIS demands end user interaction. Users have to hit a function key to interrupt the boot process and select which version of W2K Professional they want, such as English or French, for example.

To make installation possible without DNS, DHCP, and Active Directory, ON Technology (www.on.com) plans to release in the first quarter of next year a version of its ON Command CCM product that will be integrated with the Microsoft RIS component of Windows 2000.

"Our philosophy is to not involve the end user at all," says Phil Neray, director of product marketing at ON Technology.

The integrated solution enables the desktop to remotely boot via Intel Corp.’s Wake On LAN, connect to a server, and then download a pre-OS agent. The agent partitions the hard drive and downloads the necessary Windows 2000 files, installs the software, then forces a reboot. The next time a user starts the machine, it will run Windows 2000 Professional.

Victor Raisys, lead product manager for Windows management infrastructure and products at Microsoft, said in a statement that Microsoft’s customers have been asking for this capability.

"We’re not using a ghosting or imaging technique, rather we are using the native installation program within Windows 2000, which is a more reliable technique than ghosting or imaging," ON Command’s Neray says.

ON Command CCM, which will be available as a Microsoft Management Console snap-in, also integrates with Systems Management Server (SMS) to offer the management of multiple ON Command CCM servers. Additionally, client configuration information can be imported and exported across the two systems, and SMS inventory queries can be used by ON Command CCM to create distribution targets. SMS also provides software inventory and metering, network monitoring, and remote control functionality -- features not found in ON Command CCM.