If you've got "DNS quirks" then quite frankly your doom - it's going to affect loads of things like GPO - you shouldn't be relying on NetBIOS lookups. There are pro's and con's to using MSI, like the issue with multiple instances, the fact only one MSI installation can occur at once and the whole overly complex for some scenario - ie a xcopy of a dll would be better. The wise installer they use is pretty basic and just slaps the files on again and again and doesn't worry about such things like it's already installed or some idiot has mangled it up - ok sometimes the repair option works but too often I've wasted time trying to unpick msi when it shouldn't be needed. Besides SOLUS3 is much more then just installing\updating clients. Anyway, one the advantages of the current format is you can wrap it into a MSI - like RM does. Anyway, here's my stab at it - SIMS MSI - Home - pretty basic. Hopefully it'll keep you all from wasting Capita time so they can concentrate on the more important things. Personally I though IT people would be pro new technology and innovation and would be jumping at the chance to get new features added... guess not.
PS: I'll let @Rawns off, it's a shame more people aren't using SIMS and CentraStage - cause if enough people did, it'll be worth packaging everything SIMS'y on CentraStage - and I do me everything - all the patches, releases, everything so SOLUS isn't used at all
Anyway, all pretty pointless as it'll be all Azure based at some point.
Rawns (4th February 2013)
The correct way (From Windows 98 through Windows 7 and even 8) is a properly written MSI, with updates distributed as MSP for integration and a wrapper that installs dependecies if required, that can be manually overridden by the Admin. This is the MS way. If used as a baseline, every other method follows on nicely. This has been true since the end of the nineties. Anything else should be opposed as it does not move us forward.Personally I though IT people would be pro new technology and innovation and would be jumping at the chance to get new features added... guess not.
Anyway, all pretty pointless as it'll be all Azure based at some point.
Now with Windows 8 the game is changing... however as you point out it'll most likely be a completely new client that runs in the browser served from Azure or similar... Mind you if capita are true to form it would require an activex pluging which needs a separate installation into a specific browser version, through a non deployable package to make it work.
It's been a while since I played in the SIMS world... shame to hear they have stuffed up their installer so badly (again). Here is how it should work:
Capita release update
Local installed SIMS servers download update packages automatically.
Local Admin alerted to new version. Also given list of know clients and what versions they have available.
Clients download (via BITS or similar technology) new version from local server. They do not install because the server has not been updated.
The Admin notes when 'enough' clients have the new version ready to go, and authorises the server update.
The Clients detect the server has updated, and update themselves to match that version.
Er. That's it.
Not rocket science.
Though of course the files should also be available in a format that allows them to be easily distributed through pre-existing standard software management tools...
Okay, so it looks like I'm not alone in thinking Solus 3 isn't the way to approach this, so how are people installing updates instead?
I was talking to one of the support engineers at Capita about this earlier today, as he had been helping me with a Solus 3 issue. He says that Capita did consider MSIs but decided against them, and advised me to contact our account manager and tell them why I'm not going to use Solus again. I said that these reasons were well-documented by lots of people on EduGeek already, but I'll contact them again.
Apparently, they're dropping support from Solus 2 in Sprind 2014 as well, but he assures me that there will still be an alternative deployment method other than Solus 3.
If you have to upgrade 100's of instances of sims on a single server, you'd want multiple installers running. Especially if each instance had mutliple parts.
I'll say it again, do you honestly think Capita, the Microsoft (Gold?) Partner who has spent time and money getting a Microsoft professionals in to give them advise about how to deploy applications - professionals in there field wouldn't use MSI without good reasons. Would Capita spend money making something if they didn't have to, that costs THEM money but doesn't return them anything? I could understand it if they charged extra for SOLUS, but they don't. The same company that charges hundreds of pounds for patch that is only 5 lines of code and 2 of them are comments. Come on people, engage brains and accept that they aren't idiots and they don't do something "just cause".
Bah, where is that brick wall.
PS: The alternative will be something like the ISO they currently do.
Ok my last post on this as its getting tiresome to argue against Capita fanboi-ism, but please try to consider my points:
1) The overwhelming majority of posts on this subject (by very knowledgable and skilled members whom judgement I trust) call for an msi
2) Read further up the thread to where I posted Phil Neal's comments about how he was convinced that an msi was the way to go and called for volunteers for an msi based deployment system (dropped with no explanation - c'mom Capita gives us the technical explanation and we can shut up.... *silence*)
3) The issues raised are non issues.
4) Nothing Capita does surprises me.
Last edited by sparkeh; 4th February 2013 at 01:30 PM.
Would you post the technicial reason if were meant with a brick wall of ignorance to the larger picture? Or would you just stay silent?
I think people on here, technical as they are, are silo'd - they're thinking about themselves and their environments - not about the other 20,000 environments or the layers above. I guess it came down to technical people can spend 5 mins wrapping it into a MSI vs some other larger issue. Personally SOLUS does what psydii said it should do. Only he's missed bits out and some bits are easier then others.
It doesn't require a Windows Server - it can run on a peer-to-peer, most primaries have a few admin machines and it's pointless getting a expensive server if you don't have to. It can auto-download to the school server. It can auto-download to the client, prior to installing it - rather then MSI (as I understand it) - so you don't get a 300MB hit when all the machines come online at once. It doesn't require any work if you do it right - you click click, deploy, enter a time, you don't need to check the db upgrade, then add the msi package to your deployment folder, then assign it via gpo. You can have a simple report - I know MSI have reporting, but it's not that simple (last time I looked) without getting ££ add-on that brings the data into one place, it also gives you basic system info - the MS way is to use SCCM\SMS. It also gives reporting back too, so the LA\support team and Capita are aware that you have completed the upgrade, or if it failed. So in a managed environment, you can be proactive. I think the lack of understand makes them silent so all we get is some diluted response from some PR guy who knows nothing about the subject area - no offensive Phil - at makes them seem, well dumb. It made my job of actually getting in contact with someone who knew what they were talking about hard and even harder to get them to understand that I wasn't having a go and that when I had an idea, they actually listened and didn't just fob it off.
Anyway, what do I know, being "Capita fanboi" - I only managed to get them to listen and do my CR's.
@synaesthesia - Lies!! they don't give pay rises - did you have photos of Phil doing something... "interesting"
I think that for smaller enviroments, ie primary schools, that SOLUS3 is a help. If you can be sure that all your clients are switched on and ready to upgrade at a specified time, great.
For larger setups, like mine, I have circa 300 SIMS clients, SOLUS 3 is more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to client deployment as many of the 300 client machines appear on the network rarely. I already have a deployment system that works a treat and an MSI from Capita of the latest upgrade would make my life so much easier.
It was only enough to cover inflation and buy another 2 KFC's a year, nothing much to write home about!
I think the problem here is rather like education itself - someone trying to keep to a "one size fits all" approach which as we know, doesn't work. I have no faults with Solus 2. Just works. A bit antiquated.
Solus 3 when working is OK but it does have a lot of niggles that many people, myself included are not happy about implementing. The option of having an MSI system which doesn't take a huge amount of work would certainly placate that and help avoid the one-size approach. There's always going to be arguments for and against, that's par for the course but if there is a true calling for it, I believe they should at least take the time to either act on what Phil said previously, or at least communicate reasons against it to us.
Whatever happens, I'll put money on Capita extending SOLUS2 support until mid/late 2014 some time in the future. If they don't, I'll eat a had (made of nachos).
Last edited by Rawns; 4th February 2013 at 02:57 PM.
Could I just get some clarification....
The implication of this thread is that if your machines are not wired into the network with WoL enabled, they will not receive updates to SIMS in a non disruptive way.
If the above is true, how are people dealing with laptops?
@Meldrew - Can you do me a favour, when you've deployed the next version of SOLUS3, the one that is overdue, after you've done the next SIMS release - so all your machines are on S3 v 3.5 or whatever it is, and you're then deployed, SIMS Summer 2013(I think?), can you update this post please with how it's gone. The next version of S3 should have the last set of bugs and issues I had that I reported and I'd be interested to hear if I caught all the issues and if they've done a good job on resolving them.
@synaesthesia - Ah that's alright them. I think we both know the reason, the cost of supporting\testing two installers = more money. It doesn't really cost anything to add another WIX project to the build process.
Anyway it comes down to one of the following outcomes:
- You don't do it
- You charge the customer, they pay for an add-on or everyone's overall cost goes up and everyone moans
- You try to charge them, then we get "but we pay enough already!"
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