Like many organizations, we didn't start managing workstations with Altiris. Once upon a time the Novell Application Launcher was used to deliver software to our workstations. At the time it worked for what we needed. Getting software to desktops and making critical updates to applications. However, with the threat of audit we quickly had to pick up a product to perform inventory information. Initial data from that product was not reliable and couldn't interface with our Novell software delivery system. It led to a duplication of effort that just took up too much time and left holes that would put us out of compliance with our software contracts. Fortunately for us we had a vendor recommend Altiris.
In this series of articles I intend on detailing the steps we took while migrating from Novell to Altiris for systems management. As in all environments, your exact mileage may vary and other issues with your individual setups may appear. I'll cover some of the items that we ran into and the steps we made to resolve those issues. In this initial article I'll talk about the up front information that you'll want to know before making the change over. We didn't have all of this when we started, but my frustration is your gain.
The first and most important step we had to recognize was the thought process in managing software is entirely different with Altiris than it was with Novell. In our environment all software delivery packages were assigned on a per-user basis. If someone needed software -- no matter what computer they logged into -- they would have the ability to pull that software down to their workstation. This was a wonderfully convenient setup for our customers. Unfortunately, there was little reporting back on success of those installs and their frequency. When it did come time to roll the agent out I can say that we were very lucky to have something like Novell's Application Launcher available. While we've switched to importing computers from AD to perform installs of the client, it was very easy to have our existing infrastructure roll the Altiris NS Agent out for us. Once we had Altiris' Inventory Solution up and reporting data back we nearly gave the poor woman a heart attack. We quickly found out that people within the company had "friends" that were logging into their computers and loading software apps intended for single seat installs only. When rolling this out we needed to be prepared for the information that was going to come to us. If you've got a more tightly controlled environment then you'll probably not have to deal with this as much.
Preparing for Notification Server
The next step is to finish bringing up your NS environment. Items that I found important were importing users from Active Directory. Much of our Novell Directory Services had already been migrated to AD during our GroupWise to Exchange migration. As I've previously noted in other articles many other descriptors in AD didn't work for us we were used to assigning things based on Organizational Units. It became increasingly important to have a detailed mapping of the usage of your NDS tree and your AD setups. Making sure they were as close together as possible became key in using Altiris. Detailed information of not only your NDS Tree, but your NAL objects and their assignments was also important. Gathering all of those files together having their types detailed in a spreadsheet and marked by priority and making sure your Altiris Team (if different from the team managing Novell) had rights to the objects made it easier for us to move forward as each Department/Organizational Unit was migrated to Altiris' Software Delivery. If you didn't recognize it by now, the key here is to prepare ahead of time. Detailed mappings of legacy systems can be scary especially if you have had them in place for a long time. It's important to not get overwhelmed and enlist as much help as you can with the process. We had an Altiris partner on site to assist us with our initial implementation. If you can, do that and extend their engagement to help you with that documentation process. Documentation is often the thing that we hate doing most, but is also the one step that can help the most in the future. As I continue in the future I'll talk a little more in detail about the steps we took to migrate Novell Application Launcher Installs and some of the other items that came up as we not only moved away from Novell Software Delivery, but also away from Novell file services.
Migrating from Novell to Altiris - Index of Articles