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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Why Google software can be murder for your Release Management Process…

Recently in one my projects I was involved with deploying some Google applications such as Google Chrome and Google Drive on Windows 8.1 clients. Company policy states that all applications (including the Google stuff) must be deployed automatically without any user intervention. Since System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager was used, the Application Model needs to be used.

From a technical perspective, this means that each application is configured with the following properties:

  • All applications are configured to be silently installed
  • A required deployment is configured to a User Collection
  • Supersedence is used when an application is replaced by either a new version or a completely different application

While this approach works fine for most applications, it doesn’t work for the Google software such as Google Chrome or Google Drive.

Here’s why:

The first Google application, let’s say Google Chrome, automatically installs Google Update. Google Update frequently calls home to check if a new version is available. If so, it will automatically download and install this updated version and uninstalls the old one. But then, the Configuration Manager client will run its required cycles. It will notice that deployed version is not detected anymore so it will start installing it again to meet the policy defined by the required deployment (you can clearly see that in the AppEnfore.log file). So the older version is installed again and I’ve seen it break applications completely. Extremely annoying for service desk crew and admins…

While you can manage Google Update using GPO, not all applications can be managed to suppress using Google Update.

From a management perspective, Google Update completely takes away control to have a functioning Release Management Process. While Google Update is great in consumer scenarios, it certainly isn’t in the corporate world.

When System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager is used, I only have the following technical workarounds available:

  • Deploy it as an available deployment; this requires user intervention and kills some automation
  • Deploy it as part of a Task Sequence; this gives the application to everyone and kills the ability to determine who is allowed to use it (you can create requirements etc. but it kills simplicity)
  • Deploy it as a Package instead of an Application; this takes away all the nice features the Application Model can give and takes me back to System Center Configuration Manager 2007. Not to mention, Packages should be used for some ‘stateless’ action such as scripts or registry keys
  • Publish it as an update using SCUP 2011; let’s not go there, the problem remains…

Since Google updates their software quite frequently, I don’t see organizations frequently adding and superseding these applications. Imagine how much one admin needs to commit to managing Google applications.

In other words: Google needs to take out Google Update and provide something more manageable for the corporate world…

 

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Looking forward to 2015…

Well, the year 2015 is just a few days old, but it has just started it is time to look forward to what I expect to happen in 2015.

I see many people writing about what I should do or else I would ‘miss’ the ride to the future. Well, I’d put that a little bit more into perspective and see for myself as well.

At this time I see quite a gap between what technology is available and what the corporate is able or willing to use. In 2014 and even now, quite some organizations are busy saying goodbye to Windows XP. I expect the same thing to happen in 2015 and 2016 with Windows Server 2003. It’s hard to say goodbye to the old stuff and move on to newer technology especially when fear to cloud technology is involved. In other words, these organizations are simply not ready emotionally or politically to liberate themselves from this fear and allow cloud technology to be introduced…

I also hear many people saying what I need to do in the future as well. At this moment I don’t believe that System Center is just going to vanish in just a day and being completely replaced with something else. What is confusing though is where to focus on right now. Fortunately, I had a conversation with a Technical Evangelist from Microsoft and he gave me a crystal clear explanation on what I need to focus on. It’s actually limited to just two things:

  • Identity
  • PowerShell

It took me a while to let it sink in but I start to understand. These two things are the main pillars for what we’re doing. All technologies involved depend on these two.

After that I started to ignore all these other statements…

As for me, I expect to be involved with my current specialty which is System Center Configuration Manager. I do hope to work more with the Azure platform, especially EMS. Nevertheless, whatever comes on my path, it’ll still take me to the two pillars…

 

 

 
 
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