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MIS Systems Thread, SIMS & MSI in Technical; I think its become apparent that for whatever reason (none that I can actually think of) providing the industry standard ...
  1. #106

    sparkeh's Avatar
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    I think its become apparent that for whatever reason (none that I can actually think of) providing the industry standard method for deploying SIMS is never going to happen.
    I dream of having a SIMS msi I can roll out after every update in the same way I deploy just about every other piece of softare but alas its just not destined to happen.

  2. #107

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilNeal View Post
    SOLUS3 can patch the executables.
    Not what I asked Phil. I want to know why Capita is so against offering the industry standard way of installing and patching things? My point was very clear (as were my points on the same subject over the last 5 years!)

    As I said, imagine if all companies took your stance of 'our system works great for our piece of software'. Our school has at least 100, probably 200 pieces of software it manages. Can you imagine the hassle for us if all of them decided they wouldn't support the industry standard way of doing things? As it stands, SIMS.net is basically like a leg on a millipede, working in the opposite direction to the rest.

  3. #108

    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    You think Capita is ever likely to do *anything* in a "standard" way? Like hell will they. It's easy enough to do - enough of us have done it successfully. Perhaps we're all being stubborn? No, not really. As above, if we have an average allocation of 30 different pieces of software on each station, do we really want 30 different ways of deploying them? Of course not. There is a very large difference between getting SIMS onto a station in the first place and updating it once it's there and most of us, I think, would be happy to have Solus or whatever handle updates.
    Last edited by vikpaw; 1st October 2011 at 09:46 PM. Reason: rethink

  4. #109

    matt40k's Avatar
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    Here we go again... MSI have a number of problems, only 1 can run at once, if one corrupt MSI messes up your system, it can stop other MSI installing (snowball affect), managing MSI centrally requires 3rd party tools (at least to do it well), they wouldn't for central hosted environment where you need multiple copies of the SIMS on a single machine. I've yet to see a MSI upgrade a database (ok I've see a few but I wouldn't like to do it on anything majorly important).

    SOLUS3 supports central hosting, normal setups, gives you a central console to check status and upgrades the database well. It's no different to installing a antivirus console.

    Quite happy with SOLUS3 dispite all the problems I've got\had - main reason is they're actively developing it.

  5. #110

    sparkeh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt40k View Post
    Here we go again... MSI have a number of problems, only 1 can run at once,
    I don't really understand your point here. Why is this an issue?
    if one corrupt MSI messes up your system, it can stop other MSI installing (snowball affect),
    Never experienced that, windows installer is very good at rolling back to the pre-installation state if there is any issues during installation (unlike exe installers which leave you a mess to clean up yourself).
    managing MSI centrally requires 3rd party tools (at least to do it well),
    People using gpos to manage deployment seem quite happy.
    they wouldn't for central hosted environment where you need multiple copies of the SIMS on a single machine.
    No experience of this so can't really comment, my only question is how is this done with exes and why can't it be done with msi?
    SOLUS3 supports central hosting, normal setups, gives you a central console to check status and upgrades the database well. It's no different to installing a antivirus console.
    Ok I take your point, however the virus consoles I use either have a package you can put in a standard image which reports in after you have imaged a machine or install the package when the machine when it is added to AD, both methods use msi

  6. #111

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt40k View Post
    Here we go again... MSI have a number of problems, only 1 can run at once,
    Can only run one what at once? One MSI? Why would anyone want to run 2 installers at once, that's just bad practice.

    if one corrupt MSI messes up your system, it can stop other MSI installing (snowball affect),
    Nonsense. MSI's are just as stable, if not more so, than other installers. All Windows installations allow you to reinstall the Windows Installer software if necessary, you can easily roll-back a system using MSIs also. You also don't need the original MSI to remove a piece of software, you can force it via original installation GUIDs. You can't do that with other systems.

    managing MSI centrally requires 3rd party tools (at least to do it well),
    Nope, Group Policy works just fine.

    they wouldn't for central hosted environment where you need multiple copies of the SIMS on a single machine.
    Why not? MSI's are completely customisable, both at creation time by the programmer, and at the installation time by the installer (via MST files). Also, this is a fringe case, not the normal installation situation. Designing your entire system around a fringe case is bad design. You should cater for the majority of systems first, then expand to include fringe cases on top. Else, you're catering for 1% whilst 99% suffer.

    I've yet to see a MSI upgrade a database (ok I've see a few but I wouldn't like to do it on anything majorly important).
    Database upgrades are simply a case of running an SQL script against a database. No different doing it in an MSI to doing it in Install Shield or any other installer package. Hell, it could even be done inside SIMS.net itself if you wanted. Its just SQL.

    SOLUS3 supports central hosting, normal setups, gives you a central console to check status and upgrades the database well. It's no different to installing a antivirus console.
    Yes, and with every anti-virus console I've ever used, I can whisk up an MSI and install it via GPO. Sophos? Sure. ESET? Great. eTrust? Easy. SIMS.net? *brain explodes*

    Quite happy with SOLUS3 dispite all the problems I've got\had - main reason is they're actively developing it.
    So you're happy that instead of following industry standards where most upgrade and installation problems have been worked out already, you're happy to use a piece of custom software which you just admitted has issues? Wow.

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  8. #112


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    I would suggest only having one msi (or any other installer) is actually a good thing stops installers doing things at cross purposes

    Local installs just to run sims to say register kids shouldnt need a database anyway it should all be on the server or whats the point?

    And even av consoles allow you to remotely start an install on a pc

  9. #113

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    Sorry, rather busy today so you'll have to accept a rushed response. I've been in the boat where I've had Sophos being install and the SOLUS3 agent won't run as the Sophos install keeps failing and the Head doesn't understand why he doesn't have SIMS. At least with SIMS as a wise package you can manually install it and fix MSI at your leisure. I don't want Capita to have two installers as this would majorly f00k me off when the helpdesk say, oh that doesn't work use the other installer - which is going to happen.

    SOLUS3 supports whatever package you throw at it, so they could deploy MSI - oh wait, they do.

    The thing about AD deploying MSI is you have no easy report of the status of the package, SOLUS3 will give a report of which machines have download the package prior to the installation, which machines have deploy it, I can get log from the central console of the installation, so when I deploy it for friday PM, I know that Monday PM I have to visit X because of Y problem (ie no free disc space). I've seen packages that give you this sort of control over AD deployments, but I've yet to find anything for free. I don't fancy wasting my time re-packaging software.

    Yes it's possible to have multiple MSI installation, but not with out transformation - again, I don't fancy doing this. You have multiple installations of SIMS Apps on central hosting. They're are other occations that you might want this - ie if you have two versions of SIMS running.

    I didn't say MSI can't do database, it's just sticky. Would you have to have two separate steps, one for database then the other workstations - just can't see how it would chain together for AD deployment. Personally, more work.

    Personally I don't get it. It's a free tool. It's waay better then AD deployment. It's supported.

  10. #114

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt40k View Post
    Sorry, rather busy today so you'll have to accept a rushed response. I've been in the boat where I've had Sophos being install and the SOLUS3 agent won't run as the Sophos install keeps failing and the Head doesn't understand why he doesn't have SIMS. At least with SIMS as a wise package you can manually install it and fix MSI at your leisure. I don't want Capita to have two installers as this would majorly f00k me off when the helpdesk say, oh that doesn't work use the other installer - which is going to happen.
    Poor business practices, and poor design should not be a point when thinking about what technology to use to deploy something.

    SOLUS3 supports whatever package you throw at it, so they could deploy MSI - oh wait, they do.
    Irrelevant I'm afraid!

    The thing about AD deploying MSI is you have no easy report of the status of the package, SOLUS3 will give a report of which machines have download the package prior to the installation, which machines have deploy it, I can get log from the central console of the installation, so when I deploy it for friday PM, I know that Monday PM I have to visit X because of Y problem (ie no free disc space). I've seen packages that give you this sort of control over AD deployments, but I've yet to find anything for free. I don't fancy wasting my time re-packaging software.
    Why do you need a specialised piece of software to do that? Windows Installer already logs every package that is installed in the event logs on each machine. Creating a tool to connect to a bunch of machines to extract relevant event logs is trivial work, and Capita could easily have created such a tool like that.

    Yes it's possible to have multiple MSI installation, but not with out transformation - again, I don't fancy doing this. You have multiple installations of SIMS Apps on central hosting. They're are other occations that you might want this - ie if you have two versions of SIMS running.
    Transformation is simply customising your installation. So, instead of using a wizard, you're choosing individual settings. There are many manufacturers who have created their own custom mst generators - SMART, ABTutor, Office customisation wizard etc... You don't have to dive into Orca to do it. You're confusing technology with implementation.

    Running 2 versions is irrelevant if the MSI is built correctly.

    I didn't say MSI can't do database, it's just sticky. Would you have to have two separate steps, one for database then the other workstations - just can't see how it would chain together for AD deployment. Personally, more work.
    I don't see why it is 'sticky' at all! It is just a technology. Just like InstallShield or whatever custom tool is used at the moment. I have at no point said you'd have to have a single MSI for everything. Why not have 1 which is for server side stuff, and 1 for clients. Every other client server piece of software I've ever come across does it like that.

    Personally I don't get it. It's a free tool. It's waay better then AD deployment. It's supported.
    Your opinion, but it isn't 'way better than AD deployment'. Do you have to support 200 different pieces of software, all with their own stupid installers, their own stupid consoles and different demands on clients? From what I remember, you are pretty much SIMS based? So, unless you have similar requirements of your time, it is going to be very difficult for you to see our point.

  11. #115


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    the LAST thing we need is another Capita lock-in to Microsoft. Capita's insistence on an MSOffice lockin is bad enough for something that could have been a platform independent web-app (or at least not be hard coded to ONLY open in MSOffice, when plenty of other spreadsheet apps will actually open the XML).

    Requiring all schools to have a (specific version) of Active Directory would be a step too far, better they have their own app for deployment. Better still if it didn't actually need installing.

  12. #116

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    the LAST thing we need is another Capita lock-in to Microsoft. Capita's insistence on an MSOffice lockin is bad enough for something that could have been a platform independent web-app (or at least not be hard coded to ONLY open in MSOffice, when plenty of other spreadsheet apps will actually open the XML).

    Requiring all schools to have a (specific version) of Active Directory would be a step too far, better they have their own app for deployment. Better still if it didn't actually need installing.
    Sorry but that makes no sense. Whilst SIMS.net is a client server app, we need the best tools to do the job we need to do. Like it or not, it is currently a windows only application, and as such it should use the best windows installation methods it can.

    Ideally, we want a web based MIS, but in the meantime, an installer that is standard will help.

    Also, MSI's don't need 'a specific' anything, they just need Windows.

  13. #117


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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Sorry but that makes no sense. Whilst SIMS.net is a client server app, we need the best tools to do the job we need to do. Like it or not, it is currently a windows only application, and as such it should use the best windows installation methods it can.
    IMO It's better that Capita support their own installer system than rely on a 3rd party (MS). It isn't fair to say to a small primary that they must now buy Active Directory, or Tivoli, or Novell, or whatever, just because that is Capita's preferred installation method. Anyway - who says MSI is the best deployment method? Other systems will install .exe's ok so you could just as easily argue that you'd be better off buying Tivoli than using GPO....

    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Also, MSI's don't need 'a specific' anything, they just need Windows.
    But if you want them to support GPO based MSI installation, which is what you are asking then they will have to support a specific version of Active Directory - Capita enforced upgrades are a PITA as it is, without the complication of an AD upgrade.

    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Ideally, we want a web based MIS, but in the meantime, an installer that is standard will help.
    That would be ideal

  14. #118
    meastaugh1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    IMO It's better that Capita support their own installer system than rely on a 3rd party (MS). It isn't fair to say to a small primary that they must now buy Active Directory, or Tivoli, or Novell, or whatever, just because that is Capita's preferred installation method.
    I don't think anyone is saying that. I can't imagine why simsload.exe can't run a Windows Installer upgrade, so the experience for unmanaged environments (ie primary) is almost the same as it is at the moment.

    But if you want them to support GPO based MSI installation, which is what you are asking then they will have to support a specific version of Active Directory - Capita enforced upgrades are a PITA as it is, without the complication of an AD upgrade.
    Capita already test against AD for ADP, so I would hope it shouldn't be too much of an ask.

  15. #119

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    IMO It's better that Capita support their own installer system than rely on a 3rd party (MS). It isn't fair to say to a small primary that they must now buy Active Directory, or Tivoli, or Novell, or whatever, just because that is Capita's preferred installation method. Anyway - who says MSI is the best deployment method? Other systems will install .exe's ok so you could just as easily argue that you'd be better off buying Tivoli than using GPO....
    Again, no. MSI installs on non-active directory systems. It is built into every version of Windows, and has been for, what, 10 years?

    But if you want them to support GPO based MSI installation, which is what you are asking then they will have to support a specific version of Active Directory - Capita enforced upgrades are a PITA as it is, without the complication of an AD upgrade.
    Huh? There's no such thing as an active directory specific MSI! An MSI is an MSI, that is it.

  16. #120


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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Again, no. MSI installs on non-active directory systems. It is built into every version of Windows, and has been for, what, 10 years?

    Huh? There's no such thing as an active directory specific MSI! An MSI is an MSI, that is it.
    So it sounds like you are asking them to just produce an MSI and not support it's installation method?

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