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  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    Question Need ideas on managing IT assets

    I'm the new guy in the PC Support section for a large retailer. As I've found out in my one week here, we don't have a 'system' to keep our IT systems current with vendor specific updates. We've got ~600 PC's, a hundred or so laptops and several hundred stores. We use WSUS for MS updates, but programs and their updates, patches, whatever are pushed out with VB scripts from a network share. The vast majority of our assets are Dell's. I asked about Systems Center and was told a Network Admin tried it and didn't like it (unknown why or how long ago it was). My supervisor said that a lot of time is spent updating assets with BIOS updates and others after the fact - when something has gone wrong.

    What are other people doing to stay ahead of the game? (I have my supervisors 'blessing' to ask around.)

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  3. #2
    Platinum Lounger
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    There is no easy solution, only costly ones - either time or money, or both.
    A cheap solution would be to run OCS or Spiceworks.
    Free cut down commercial software from BMC.
    A more complete (and costly) solution would be Secunia PSI or similar.

    You pays your money and you takes your chances...

    cheers, Paul

  4. #3
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    I wouldn't bother doing BIOS updates, unless Dell says a specific one is really, really, necessary. The usual BIOS updates are only 'recommended'. Most of the BIOS fixes during the life of a PC are for very rarely encountered problems, and you can make a judgement based on the update's comments.

    I would look at Systems Centre - and see whether you get on with it!
    BATcher

    Dear Diary, today the Hundred Years War started ...

  5. #4
    Star Lounger
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    Ok, thanks. I'll pass it on.

  6. #5
    5 Star Lounger
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    I'm a Sys Admin in a very similar environment. We have about 1000 PCs, 28 Windows servers (2000, 2003, 2008, 2008R2), 13 of those are Citrix XenApp servers, and Citrix XenServer for virtual servers. We also have Netware which we will be finally phasing out later this year. The company I work for is very frugal to be nice about it, so products like System Center are tough to justify. But if you can convince your management, its the way to go. BTW, if a Network Admin didn't like it, he either hates MS (had preconcieved notions), or he's not as good at his job as he thinks. I have yet know an Admin worth thier salt that didn't want to use System Center.

    Like you we use WSUS which works very well for us. And also VB Scripts for a lot of other things, software installs, updates, reg hacks, etc. Active Directory until the past year was not leveraged, in fact 98% of the PCs were not even on the domain when I started here. Utilize GPO (Group Policy Objects), get to know it inside and out. It doesn't cost anything and can make your managing your PCs a lot easier. Even if you aren't allowed access to AD and GPO, buy this book: Group Policy by Jeremy Moskowitz. If you think you know Windows, you'll realize how much you don't know when you get done with this one.

    One of my biggest desires is inventory; software, hardware, in other words, knowing the whole schmoo. To start, download a copy of ADInfo. Its a great free tool and the paid version is not all that expensive. If your domain is not Windows 2008 R2 and running at the 2008 R2 functional level, ask when it will be. There are lots of enhancements in AD that make it easier to manange tne environment. We want to look at SpiceWorks and OCS but I have too many other projects on my plate right now to dig into these. My viewpoint of tools is that if you can get 90% of the desired functionality of the high priced software for free or a fraction of the cost, you're already where you want/need to be. Its why we chose XenServer over VMWare. And I'm not in slightest disaponited in my choice. But it was a well researched and tested choice. Not all free/cheap solutions will cut the mustard. Every enviroment is different.

    I have never been a proponent for updating the firmware and BIOS unless there is a problem to fix. Especially on servers, it can be a risky proposition. For workstations, is not even close to being a practical idea. If having to update the BIOS is a constant issue in your environment to fix something, I'd be suspect of the integrity of the image and not the hardware. We also use Dell PCs and they have been pretty close to flawless.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike68847 View Post
    (I have my supervisors 'blessing' to ask around.)
    If you didn't have that "blessing", I'd be very concerned about the type of company and boss you have.
    Last edited by Doc Brown; 2011-06-29 at 10:16.
    Chuck

  7. #6
    Star Lounger
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    Thanks, Doc Brown! Lots of great advice/lessons-learned.

  8. #7
    5 Star Lounger
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    You're welcome! And I forgot, welcome to the forum!
    Chuck

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