It is always exciting when a company comes up with a slick solution to a strategic problem. SpecOps makes group policy deployment a practical reality in many situations where it was previously very labor intensive and lacked appropriate status reporting.
In my opinion, Microsoft's out of the box group policy is intended to provide software deployment for the Small Business Server market segment (note the removal of Systems Management Server from SBS when Windows 2000 was released) However, some enterprises have attempted to use it more broadly and many use it in some capacity in small locations where full scale desktop management deployment is not practical.
SpecOps deploy plugs right into the group policy MMC - so the learning curve on administration is fairly low for those who have used gpo deployment in the past. There are no special servers required - whatever is currently (or would be) used for group policy deployment can continue to be used. On the client side the SpecOps agent plugs into the login process very similar to the group policy software distribution agent. SpecOps is reasonably priced per desktop. The pricing and lack of server requirements make SpecOps deployments easier to cost justify, pilot (try out) and deploy.
SpecOps Deploy should not be confused with a full scale desktop management system which handles additional tasks such as remote control, configuration management, inventory and asset management, etc. However, in environments or projects where group policy software deployment may have been considered to play a role, SpecOps merits review.
Here are some of Group Policy holes SpecOps Deploy plugs:
- Support for EXE packages (extremely limited in Group Policy) - including elevated rights.
- Per-Machine install of MSI packages when targeting Users.
- Access to MSI command line.
- Real time success / fail status reporting.
- Trickle distribution (via BITS).
- Scheduled installations (rather than GPO's requirement for computer reboot or user login).
- Immediate installation.
Topic: "Engineers Toolbox"