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Deploying Applications Using Group Policy and SCCM 2007 : Creating Software Installation Policies

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4/14/2013 6:27:23 PM

The steps involved in creating Group Policy Software Installation policies are as follows:

  1. Plan an AD DS strategy.

  2. Create a software distribution point.

  3. Configure Software Installation defaults.

  4. Create Software Installation package policies.

  5. Configure Software Installation package properties.

Planning an AD DS Strategy

When planning a Group Policy application deployment, you must review your organization’s software requirements and compare them to your AD DS organizational structure and your available Group Policy Objects (GPOs). With this information, you can determine how you want to deploy your applications. Then create a test environment to determine exactly how you want to assign or publish software to your users or computers.

Some of the basic strategies for Group Policy software deployment that you should consider are as follows:

  • Create organizational units (OUs) based on software management, rather than security, needs. This strategy enables you to target applications to the appropriate users.

  • Deploy software close to the root of your AD DS domain. Deploying software high in the domain hierarchy makes it easier to provide all of the users in an organization with access to an application. This reduces administration because you can deploy the package using a single GPO rather than having to re-create the object in multiple containers deeper in the AD DS hierarchy.

  • Deploy multiple applications with a single GPO. In organizations where users share the same core set of applications, this practice reduces administration overhead by enabling you to create and manage a single GPO rather than multiple GPOs. Also, the user logon process is faster because a single GPO deploying multiple applications processes faster than multiple GPOs each deploying one application.

  • Publish or assign applications only once to a given group of users or computers. Deploying the same application in multiple configurations is sometimes necessary to support different types of users. However, you should avoid deploying multiple copies of the same application in such a way that users are forced to decide which version they need. Instead, adjust your deployment strategy wherever possible so that each configuration is delivered only to the users and computers that need it.

Creating a Software Distribution Point

A software distribution point is a location on a shared network drive on which you store the packages you intend to deploy using Group Policy. When you create a Software Installation policy, the package you specify is not actually stored in the AD DS database. The GPO contains only a pointer to the package’s location. Therefore, the package must be accessible, not only to the computer where you are running the Group Policy Management Editor, but also to the computers and users who are to receive it.

You can create multiple distribution points or a single distribution one for all of your packages as long as you create separate folders for each application and each version. Configure the share and NTFS permissions so that administrators have Read and Write access to the distribution point. Users need only Read access.

Configuring Software Installation Defaults

The Properties sheets for the Software Installation folders in Group Policy Management Editor contain configuration settings that apply to all of the package policies you create in that folder. Some of the settings establish defaults for parameters you can customize on individual policies, as shown in Figure 1, while others enable multiple applications deployed by the same GPO to coexist.

The General tab of the Software Installation Properties sheet

Figure 1. The General tab of the Software Installation Properties sheet

For example, the File Extensions tab, shown in Figure 2, enables you to establish priorities for the file associations created by the deployed applications. If you install two applications that both create associations for the same file extension, you can specify which one of the applications should launch when a user opens a file with that extension.

The File Extensions tab of the Software Installation Properties sheet

Figure 2. The File Extensions tab of the Software Installation Properties sheet

Creating Software Installation Package Policies

When you browse to the Software Installation folder under Computer Configuration or User Configuration, right-click it, and select New | Package from the context menu, you must first browse to the software distribution point you created and select the package file you want to deploy. After you do this, the Deploy Software dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 3, in which you can specify whether you want to assign or publish the package. When you deploy a package to computers (as opposed to users), the Published option is unavailable, and if you select the Advanced option, the package’s Properties sheet appears.

The Deploy Software dialog box

Figure 3. The Deploy Software dialog box

Caution

MAINTAINING LICENSES

You must have the appropriate software licenses for applications written by independent software vendors that you distribute using Group Policy policies. It is your responsibility to match the number of users who can access and use the software to the number of licenses you have on hand. It is also your responsibility to verify that you are working within the license agreement included by each independent software vendor.

Configuring Software Installation Package Properties

Double-click a policy package (or select the Advanced option in the Deploy Software dialog box) to open its Properties sheet, as shown in Figure 4. On the Deployment tab, you can switch between Assign and Publish, as well as configure the following parameters:

  • Auto-Install This Application By File Extension Activation. Select this check box to use the application precedence for file name extensions as determined on the File Extensions page of the Software Installation Properties sheet. When you deploy the package to computers, the check box is selected and grayed out because the application is installed automatically by default.

  • Uninstall This Application When It Falls Out Of The Scope Of Management. Select this check box to remove the application at logon (for users) or startup (for computers) if they move to a site, domain, or OU for which the application is not deployed in a GPO.

  • Do Not Display This Package In The Add/Remove Programs Control Panel. Select this check box to specify that this package should not be displayed in the Get Programs control panel (in Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2) or the Add Or Remove Programs control panel.

  • Basic. Select this option to provide only a basic display to users during the installation process.

  • Maximum. Select this option to display all installation messages and screens to users during the package installation.

    The Deployment tab of a package policy’s Properties sheet

    Figure 4. The Deployment tab of a package policy’s Properties sheet

The Properties sheet also includes the following additional tabs:

  • Upgrades. Enables you to designate packages as upgrades to other packages already deployed

  • Categories. Enables you to specify the category under which the package is listed in the Get Programs or Add Or Remove Programs control panel

  • Modifications. Enables you to add MST package files containing installation modifications to an existing package deployment

  • Security. Enables you to specify permissions that control access to the package you are creating

Note

CHOOSING A LOCAL DEPLOYMENT METHOD

It is up to each organization to decide which local application deployment method is best suited to its skills and its needs. With Group Policy, the deployment process is free and relatively simple, but the package creation process can be quite complex. With SCCM 2007, creating packages is a relatively straightforward process, but installing the SCCM infrastructure is complicated and expensive.

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