Friday, February 5, 2010

The Missing Software - Painless Imaging

I think there is a huge hole in the market when it comes to imaging software. We've got some really good companies out there like Symantec and Acronis, but I feel like there is a big gap requiring an IT Administrator to take multiple steps to create a universal image that can be rolled out to many different hardware types throughout the office. This can be achieved using imaging software like Backup Exec System Recovery or True Image in conjunction with Sysprep and MySysprep but its clunky and takes time to set up.

I see it like this. Why cant I just create an image as usual, and have a bootable application that will go to a web based driver repository and download the network and storage drivers needed to boot that image on dissimilar hardware, as well as switch to the correct hardware abstract layer as well as regenerate SIDs AND join the PC to the domain automatically and name the PC according to serial number all in one product? In addition most of these apps support converting to and from virtual images. Forget converting, we want to boot the image so we can update it from time to time and just 'save' it back when we are done installing windows updates.

I've been putting together a tutorial on how to achieve this with BESR and sysprep, but like Conan O'Brien it's not quite ready for prime time yet. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Somehow I missed UIU (Universal Imaging Utility). I'm trying it out now to see how well it works but it came highly recommended from a colleague. Looks like it does most of what I mentioned above but instead of downloading only your necessary drivers on the fly, it loads a 2GB repository of just about every driver you could need. Luckily it does give you the ability to narrow that down after it is already installed on your base image.

My big question is, will it allow for more flexibility than sysprep in terms of customizing your settings, specifically with computer naming schemes and domain autojoin? We will soon find out.