What is Specops Deploy?
Specops Deploy is an Active Directory integrated deployment system which fully automates the process of installing operating systems or applications in Windows environments. The system runs within the existing infrastructure and is capable of quickly installing or reinstalling Windows and any necessary applications whenever the need arises.
By utilizing all the powerful technologies included in the standard Windows platform the system is extremely easy to implement and requires very little maintenance once it's up and running. Specops Deploy also removes much of the complexity traditionally associated with automated deployment systems, making it the most efficient choice for any size of Windows environment.
A properly configured Specops Deploy environment is capable of handling the installation of new computers directly at the workplace of the end user. Simply unpack the new hardware, connect it to the network and turn on the power. Specops Deploy can handle the rest.
Operating System deployment
Specops Deploy / OS extends the functionality of three standard Microsoft components and integrates them with Active Directory. By using the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK), Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 (MDT) and Windows Deployment Services (WDS) as our base technology Specops Deploy ensures that your deployment platform will be able to evolve along with the rest of the Windows ecosystem without having to rebuild the entire solution.
The true benefit of Specops Deploy / OS, however, lies in the Active Directory integration and the ease of management it brings to our customers.
Want to re-install a computer? Simply right-click on the computer object in Active Directory Users and Computers and let the system take care of the rest, no matter where in the organization that machine is located. Have you ever wondered what's actually happening out there when an OS deployment is in progress? Specops Deploy / OS offers a real-time monitoring tool where admins can monitor the progress of all deployments and catch any errors as soon as they occur.
Specops Deploy / App extends the functionality of Group Policy with all the enterprise ready software deployment features the standard Group Policy software installation component is missing.
Managing application deployment through Group Policy is extremely powerful as the nature of Group Policy makes each individual client computer responsible for figuring out which applications it should download and install. This removes an incredible amount of complexity found in other systems and allows the administrators to focus on the things that matter to the client, like where the installation files are located and what commands are necessary to complete the installation.
Specops Deploy / App also includes real-time monitoring of active installations in the network, allowing you to track the progress of your software installations as they happen. Errors are immediately reported back to the administration tool for efficient troubleshooting, making Specops Deploy one of the most reliable deployment systems on the market. It is not uncommon for our customers to reach successful installation rates well above 99%.
Installed software is naturally fully managed, meaning it can be easily uninstalled, re-installed or upgraded to newer versions with a few clicks in the adminstration tool.
Who can benefit from Specops Deploy?
Any organization with an Active Directory environment will benefit from using Specops Deploy. That said, there are differences in what motivates our customers when they make their decision.
For smaller environments one of the most obvious benefits is that Specops Deploy is easy enough to set up and configure that it makes sense to invest in an automated environment despite the fact that there aren't that many machines to manage.
With increasing environment size and complexity, the benefit shifts more and more into the total cost of ownership area. Since Specops Deploy extends the centralized management features provided by Group Policy to also control OS and software deployment it is easy for a small team of administrators to operate the system, even in enterprise environments with tens of thousands of computers.
The ability to scale with the existing infrastructure also makes Specops Deploy an attractive choice for all types of organizations. If your current network setup is scaled to cover the needs of your organization, you're ready to invest in Specops Deploy and allow us to unlock the full potential of your earlier investments.
Fully automated deployment
Specops Deploy is a full featured deployment system capable of fully automating any operating system and software installation tasks needed by your organization. Here are some examples of what the system can do for you.
Operating System Deployment
- Zero touch deployment of all Windows versions from XP all the way up to Windows 8.
- Integrates Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 with Active Directory, which removes the need to rely on any other database for computer account information.
- Ability to re-install computers directly from the Active Directory Users and Computers console.
- Group Policy based assignment of which OS image should apply to which computers.
- Greatly enhances the driver management found in MDT.
- Automatically replicates deployment shares across all deployment servers through DFS-R. This ensures that the latest images and drivers are always present at the deployment servers.
- Automates the process of importing new or existing images into the system.
- Real-time progress feedback from clients during installations, including the abiltity to read the actual installation log.
- Ability to retain user data between operating system re-installations.
- System monitoring ensures that all deployment servers are healthy and responding to clients.
- Extremely fast implementation time.
- Group Policy based software deployment truly enforces settings on all affected clients and servers.
- The same type of targeting as found in Group Policy Preferences allow extremely granular control over where software should be installed.
- Supports software installations while Windows is started or when users are logging in.
- Supports software installation while the computer is running, both with or withouth
- Detailed feedback about the progress, success or failure of the software deployment process.
- Supports non Windows Installer based installations, such as a setup.exe or a scripted installation process.
- Uses BITS for package downloads which ensures the best possible performance over slow or unreliable network links.
- Schedules software deployment to fit your timetable.
- Native support for MSP (MS Patch) files.
Microsoft Modern UI application deployment
Specops Deploy offers full support for deploying the new Windows 8 Modern UI style applications right out of the box.
Deploying these applications is just as simple as managing older Windows application installations.
Microsoft App-V support
Specops Deploy / App comes with built-in support for deploying Microsoft App-V virtual applications to your clients. The system also offers the following unique features for App-V deployment:
- Group Policy based configuration of the App-V client settings.
- Ability to automatically install the App-V client if it is needed on the client before any App-V packages are deployed.
- Support for deploying native App-V applications, which removes the need to package them prior to the deployment.
App-V applications are not installed like normal applications on the client computer. Instead the application is published, which means that the application will be downloaded to the local computer when the user uses it for the first time. This makes patching a virtual application very simple. After a patch has been applied, the new version of the virtual application is simply added to a streaming server and tagged as an upgrade. The upgraded application will then be downloaded to replace the outdated local version the next time a user starts it.
Unleash the power of Group Policy
While almost all organizations rely on Group Policy to control their basic client settings it takes a bit of imagination to realize the true power of Group Policy. The core business of Specops Software is to figure out what sort of additional management features it would make sense to control through Group Policy and create products which achieve those goals.
Since Group Policy is an enforced set of rules which are automatically applied throughout your domain hierarchy it is possible to centrally manage any size of environment with a minimum of human resources.
The fact that domain joined Windows clients are actually forced to apply whatever settings their admins have applied to them helps provide the extreme reliability found in the Specops products.
Group Policy is also a standard technology which is well known to Windows administrators. Most administrators need no more than a 30 minute demonstration to understand enough of our products to start using them on their own.
Rule based deployment
Specops Deploy offers a rule based view of both software and os deployment.
Administrators create rules in Group Policy which tells the clients under which circumstances they should perform a certain operation, like installing Microsoft Office. When the client detects that is supposed to install Office, it proceeds to execute the download and installation instructions.
This simple solution removes an enormous amount of unneccessary configuration commonly found in other systems.
Rule based deployment also ensures that you will configure a reliable, automated deployment procedure capable of performing the same operation over and over again without failing as long as the circumstances remain the same.
This explains why our customers commonly report software installation success rates in excess of 99%.
Active Directory integrated OS deployment
Specops Deploy does not need any external database in order to perform zero touch OS deployments. By allowing you to create your new computer accounts directly in your Active Directory we make it easy to manage the system and monitor what will happen. Creating the computer account before Windows is installed and domain joined also gives you the additional advantage of making it possible for you to place the new computer account in whatever security groups you might use to control your software deployments.
This is what makes it possible for Specops Deploy to complete bare metal installations right at the workplace of the user who will get the new machine instead of preparing new hardware down at the IT-department.
Where did all my settings go?
If you are an administrator used to working with other enterprise deployment tools it is easy to wonder what happened to all the configuration settings you typically have to make in order to get things working. If you really like poking around with those things we'd like to apologize as you'll have to do most of your fine tuning in Windows rather than in our own tools. We like to handle as much configuration as possible directly in our software to save you the time and trouble.
Since we're building on top of all the Active Directory stuff you've already configured for your organization we also hope you've done a good job with that. A stable Active Directory environment will certainly make us look a lot better than an unstable one. Fortunately, that stable Active Directory will make you look really good as well, so we're going to trust you on that one.
Jason Bovberg, Windows IT Pro:
"Specops Deploy rises to the top of the software-deployment field, handling the entire range of software deployment, from simple user self-service to unattended re-imaging of an entire department of computers. Its combination of ease of installation, ease of use, and intelligent leverage of Active Directory and Group Policy make it a terrific addition to an IT department’s set of must-have capabilities."
Bill Barnes, RHCE Bloomsburg University, USA:
"In academic library settings, client re-imaging has become a common procedure. When you re-image often, many software distribution management packages fail or are tricky to get working correctly. We chose Specops Deploy to fill the gap between the built in Group Policy Software installation and SMS. It is working so reliably for us, we're starting to remove SMS clients off the public computers, using Specops Deploy!"
Jan Granvik, Täby Kommun, Sweden:
“We evaluated several other solutions and chose Specops because their product is both efficient and easy to implement while they are a proven competent, reliable supplier”. “With the new solution in place, we can re-install any computer in less than 30 minutes, either with our standard Windows XP platform or with our new Windows 7 platform along with all of our applications, without the need to be physically on site. We’re really happy!"
Arthur Evans, IT Systems Manager, Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. USA:
“We needed something that would allow us to be able to push out applications and updates to our various user groups which also had integration with our Active Directory, provided real time feedback on our deployments and was easy to use. We found that in Specops Deploy.”
Mark Baxa, Systems Engineer / IT Operations Manager, Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. USA:
“What we liked even more was the fact that we did not have to purchase additional hardware or software. Specops Deploy works as it should right out of the box.”
Todd Fiedler, Director of Information Technology, Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, USA:
“When we ran the test/evaluation of Specops Deploy we were ecstatic to see it deploy to the workstations that were targeted to receive the Synapse Radiology application. What is even better is that my team does not have to rework the application to allow it to be deployed as is the case with other systems we tested.”
David McHenry, Technical Support Manager, National Federation of Independent Business – NFIB, USA:
“We were quite happy to prove to our management team that we could do this centrally and remotely for our VPN users, as well as schedule when those deployments could occur with Specops Deploy.”
Philippe Choquette, IT Manager, Aegera Therapeutics, Canada:
“Specops Deploy allowed our staff to schedule when the deployments will occur. Knowing we do not have to physically walk to each workstation to install or upgrade software applications has been ideal as we are a small IT staff with limited people and resources.”
"Having a solution that gives you feedback as the deployments occur is a nice feature as well. This means we can immediately take steps to correct any issues with a specific deployment and this impacts positively on our team’s overall effectiveness and efficiency.”
Dave Wolfendale, Associate Director, ISS Newcastle University, UK:
“We were prepared to spend time evaluating strategic solutions, yet with key criteria: the ultimate operational efficiency and the preference for a supplier with whom we could build a long-term working relationship.” “During the evaluation period, extensive guidance, help and support were provided as needed and an overall comfortable relationship established with the two key criteria being resolved completely!”
"Specops Deploy is one of two software solutions that I have used that actually works as advertised."
"Today, I don’t understand how we could operate without Specops Deploy."
"We have been using Specops Deploy 3.6 for nearly a year and I cannot say enough about how it has streamlined and sped our software deployment process. Thanks you for such a great product."
Windows IT Pro (Score: 4.5 of 5)
"Anyone who needs to install and maintain applications or OSs on a large number of computers, whether in a geographically distributed or centrally located environment, will benefit from installing Specops Deploy." Read more »
"The option to expand upon Group Policy instead of replacing it is the real beauty of Specops Deploy"
"There is a new Specops in town and this one is called v3.1. A minor point release? Yes. Significant updates worth covering? Very yes!" Read more »
Redmond Magazine (Score: 8.9 of 10)
"Many companies have developed software deployment tools, but few have done it as simply as Special Operations Software. That simplicity is what makes Specops Deploy so attractive..."
"Microsoft should take a long hard look at this product ..." Read more about Deployment done right »
"Specops Deploy makes group policy deployment a practical reality in many situations where it was previously very labor intensive and lacked appropriate status reporting." Read more »