Managing the Lifecycle of Enterprise Software
- By John K. Waters
Compared with some companies, auto parts supplier Behr America's Dayton, OH,
facility isn't exactly crowded with PCs. But with 450-plus desktop clients distributed
in five buildings across the 1.1 million-square-foot plant, a sneakernet approach
to software management and maintenance just isn't an option.
"If we weren't using an automated management system," says Behr senior
LAN administrator Michelle Pike, "we'd be wearing down a lot of shoe leather."
Analysts estimate that 70 to 80 percent of IT budgets are consumed by the daily
activities of administrators like Pike. The reason: client environments are
ceaselessly changing and continually growing in size and complexity. So it was
probably inevitable that the lifecycle rubric would begin appearing in discussions
of automated software distribution and inventory control tools.
"The work of administrators today doesn't stop with the installation or
re-installation of operating systems and applications," says Chuck Fritz,
VP of Americas operations for Enteo Software. "Most of the job involves
system operation. And so we talk about the system lifecycle, which encompasses
software distribution, software maintenance and client management."
Enteo bills itself as a pure-play software distribution company. Founded 10
years ago in Germany by a frustrated network administrator tired of manual maintenance
processes, the company established a U.S. presence in 2002. The company's flagship
product, NetInstall, is a tool for installing, managing and integrating Microsoft
Windows-based software and operating systems. The company markets NetInstall
to a range of enterprises, from organizations with small networks of 300 desktops
to larger users managing 75,000 desktops or more.
"Our software was not written for the management team," says Fritz.
"NetInstall was written for administrators by administrators."
Pike and her team have been using NetInstall for software updates, patch rollouts
and setting up desktop clients from scratch since her company bought the Dayton
Thermal Products facility from automaker DaimlerChrysler in 2002. Behr (spelled
and pronounced like the paint company, but not affiliated) specializes in automotive
air conditioning and engine cooling systems. The PCs in the Dayton facility
use standard business productivity software, Pike says, along with some additional
specialized applications, such as Microsoft Project, Visio and AutoCAD.
Behr is also a German company, and Pike says that it had been a NetInstall
customer before it set up the Dayton plant. "It was already sort of a corporate
guideline from the parent company," she says. "So we started using
it from the beginning." The Dayton facility is one of four Behr plants
in operation in the U.S., and it's the only one using NetInstall. Plans are
in place to put the product in at the other three plants by the end of the year,
The current version of NetInstall (v5.7) is designed to provide tools for the
bundling, distribution and installation of application software, whatever the
network or client operating system. It comes with tools for adjusting software
applications to meet specific requirements; its scripting language consists
of more than 110 instructions, and it supports a variety of Windows scripting
languages. And it comes with pre-defined and variably executable instructions
for performing frequently required client maintenance activities. Version 5.8
of NetInstall is due in July.
Pike’s team also utilizes a number of NetInstall add-ins. She particularly
likes the NetReflect remote control tool, which displays all important functions
of the desktop client and transmits mouse movements and keyboard inputs in real
time. She uses it for user help, and for demos and some training.
Earlier this year, Enteo announced a partnership with access infrastructure
provider Citrix Systems. The partnership provides Citrix customers with access
to NetInstall to automate installation and configuration of Citrix MetaFrame
Presentation Servers, as well as the ongoing management and maintenance of Citrix
The overall ESD market is growing fast. Analysts at IDC expect it to nearly
double from 2001 revenues of $659.6 million to $1.1 billion in 2006.
More information is available at: www.enteo.com.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached