Evaluating Change and Configuration Management

When users encounter problems with their computers — such as software that stops working, missing files, or hardware malfunctions — an IT support person often has to visit the computer in person to diagnose and solve the problem. Multiplied over hundreds or thousands of client computers, including a growing number of computers that are frequently disconnected from the network and computers that are used by multiple users, these are among the most expensive support issues that network administrators face.

Windows 2000 provides a variety of change and configuration management technologies that can help IT departments reduce the amount of work and costs associated with managing and supporting client computers. By using as a foundation the administrative and configuration standards created in the chapter "Defining Client Administration and Configuration Standards," you can reduce the amount of work and time involved in replacing one computer with another by enabling the following Active Directory#8211;enabled user services:

Remote OS Installation    Allows administrators to simplify and reduce the cost of staging and configuring new or replacement client computers. In addition, Remote OS Installation improves the ability of IT to quickly restore a system that has failed with both a preconfigured operating system and basic applications.

Software Installation and Maintenance    Allows administrators to specify a set of applications that will always be available to a user or group of users. If a required application is not already installed on the computer when it is needed, it will automatically be installed. Similarly, if an application needs to be repaired (because of a corrupted or accidentally deleted file, for instance), updated, or removed, these tasks can also be performed automatically.

User Settings Management    Where the chapter "Defining Client Administration and Configuration Standards" illustrated how you can customize and control the user interface, in this chapter you will learn how to implement Roaming User Profiles. With Roaming User Profiles, user profile settings—as well as the Group Policy settings that apply to the user—are copied to any computer on the network the user might log on to.

User Data Management    Allows users to roam to any Windows 2000 Professional–based computer on the corporate network and have access to their data. In addition, if a user takes network-based resources offline, these resources are resynchronized when the user reconnects to the network.

The last three capabilities are grouped under the name IntelliMirror. Together, IntelliMirror and Remote OS Installation make up Windows 2000 change and configuration management, which can dramatically reduce the amount of work and time involved in replacing one computer with another. Figure 24.1 illustrates the planning process for these features.


Figure 24.1 Planning Steps for IntelliMirror and Remote OS Installation