Video Screencast Help
Symantec to Separate Into Two Focused, Industry-Leading Technology Companies. Learn more.

Symantec Software Management 7.1 Best Practices, Part 3

Created: 29 Aug 2011 • Updated: 08 Nov 2012 | 5 comments
Language Translations
Joel Smith's picture
+6 6 Votes
Login to vote

Quick Delivery
   Advanced Configuration
   Targeting and Scheduling
   Task Server

Quick Delivery

As the name implies, Quick Delivery is primarily used for single Software Deployment events. Other uses, such as running commands or other scripts, can also be used. This is not considered a "Managed" method of deploying Software. Running primarily on Task Server, Quick Delivery Tasks use the Site Server method of quickly deploying a package and command to target clients. The Configuration options are limited on a Quick Delivery, noted in the processes below.

The basic creation of a Quick Delivery Task is covered below. While there are Wizards and contextual links that provide other methods, the base creation is covered here:

  1. In the Symantec Management Console, browse under Manage and select Jobs and Tasks, or if you are already in the Activity Center (ECV) click on the Jobs / Tasks section found in the left-hand column.
  2. Browse under Jobs and Tasks > System Jobs and Tasks > Software > and select Quick Delivery.
  3. Right-click on Quick Delivery and choose New > Task.
  4. From the left-hand pane in the resulting window, browse down to the Software section (folder) and select Quick Delivery.
  5. In the right-hand pane Name the Quick Delivery Task so it is recognizable when you need to go back to it.
  6. In the Software Resource multi-function field type in the name or use the drop down to select the Resource to use.
  7. Use the field adjacent to Command line to select the appropriate command line for the Task to run. Be sure to pick the right one if you have different types created in the Resource.

    It is advised to review the command-line under the field. It will show you what command will execute, and can help avoid picking the wrong command-line. Running an uninstall when you're trying to install is quite ineffective. ☺

  8. Use the Package field to select the Package to use. Since a Software Resource can have more than one package this step is required before saving a newly created Quick Delivery Task. See this screenshot for an example:

  9. Click Advanced. Use the next section to configure the Advanced section.
  10. When completed, click OK to save the Task.

Advanced Configuration

After the Task is set, the Advanced options provide fine tuning of the Task, and can change drastically how the Task runs. This section covers the different options and how they affect the Task. First I'll details the options, and then provide a walk-through for some of the more popular options.

Download Options

By default the Altiris Agent will download files to the following location: install_path\Program Files\Altiris\Altiris Agent\Agents\SoftwareManagement\Software Delivery\. Each package is placed inside a folder matching the GUID of the Package and a subsequent Cache folder. At times an administrator may want to put the package in a non-default location. Change the Destination download location radial to Location on destination computer. The path will be local relative to the target systems.

NOTE: The download will occur directly to the path given. It does not use the GUID folder method used by a Managed Software Delivery Global Option for the download path. Each Quick Delivery needs a unique path or else all files will end up in the same folder, causing overwrite, validation problems.

The Download using: options present a unique situation. In versions 6.x the defaults found here were also found under the Altiris Agent Configuration Policies. This is no longer the case. The settings for Downloading in the Altiris Agent Configurations and the options here are exclusive. While it does add to confusion, it allows you to configure more options than previously. There are two primary use cases for manipulating the options here:

  1. Control limited bandwidth between the Package source and target clients, particularly in WAN environments or poor VPN connections.
  2. Have the execution occur locally directly from the Package Server instead of downloading it first.

The two checkboxes can be checked, giving the appearance that the two settings are mutually exclusive. Since they are talking about the opposite end of the download or run remote equation, you should only use one at a time.

The option: Delete package from client computer can be used to control how long the source files are available. For most Quick Delivery Tasks an immediate delete fits the use-case model. This may not be the case, so consider how long the source files should stay for the circumstance and set it appropriately.

The nature of Quick Delivery Tasks suggests you'll only need the files for the Installation. Check the option to delete the package as it is not checked by default. One type of exception is for those applications that install via an MSI and where the Source files may be needed in the future.

Run Options

The Run As options provides functions for what user context will be used for the installation.

The default option on a Quick Delivery is logged on user. This default will not work for users who do not have install rights on their local systems. It is advised to change this when configuring a Quick Delivery Task for the first time.

Generally the Altiris Agent credentials are sufficient for an install. Since the package is downloaded, all necessary rights exist on the local system. Some exceptions to this are details here:

  • The install accesses network resources or location during the install. This does not include the ability of the application to contact network resources after the installation.
  • The source files for the install will be executed from a remote location, such as a UNC or the option to execute from the Package Server is selected.
  • The application must be run under the User's context that will launch the application for use.

For the first two use-cases, Specific user should be used, one that has rights to the resources or network locations to be used during the execution. For the last one the execution must be set to Current logged-on user.

If the users do not have installation rights to their systems, and you have an application that only works when installed under the user's own context, use a Managed Software Delivery Policy (MSD). The MSD can be configured with current user credentials and it will elevate the install session for that user to allow the install to proceed.

Task Options

The two options under this Task Options tab include the ability to have Task Server execute other Tasks while this one is executing, and to define the length of the execution.

The option, End task after __ minutes, is important to note. The default may not work for a larger install. In 7.1 GA 30 minutes was the default. In 7.1 SP1 5 hours is the default. While these defaults work for short installs, larger packages with longer installs may exceed this amount. This is also compounded in hierarchy environments where the package needs to trickle down to the lower level packages servers. This entire process is included in the timeout, so plan accordingly.

When the Quick Delivery Task executes, it first has to download the Package. The download time is calculated into the Task kill setting. Set the length for enough time for the targets to download the package and execute the command-line successfully.

Walkthrough

The following process uses common settings to configure the Advanced options.

  1. Select the Quick Delivery Task to configure, or if you are still in the creation process, click the Advanced button.
  2. Under the Download Options tab, under the Delete package from client computer settings, check the box labeled: If unused for:.
  3. From the drop down select an appropriate length of time. For this example I left 0 days selected. NOTE: This option doesn't immediately delete the package, but a maintenance process will remove them soon after the execution. See this screenshot for an example:

  4. Click the Run Options tab.
  5. Change the option to Altiris Agent credentials.
  6. Uncheck the option Allow user interaction. In most cases I've worked with administrators have not wanted users to see an install as this often generates a Helpdesk call.
  7. Click the Run Options tab.
  8. Change the designated minutes to 300 if it is set to 30. This gives clients more time to download and execute the task. This setting will solely depend on environmental and situational elements, including:
    • How soon Package Servers will have this package available
    • The size of the Package and how many files are contained within
    • The length of the Execution on target systems
  9. Click OK to save the changes.
  10. If newly creating a Task, Click OK to create it. If editing an existing Task, click Save changes to apply the new settings.

Targeting and Scheduling

The targeting for a Quick Delivery uses the common Task Server scheduling controls. If you are familiar with this, the following walk-through should be familiar. The scheduling also uses the standard Task Server controls.

Manual Selection

To add targets to the Task and schedule the execution, follow these steps:

  1. Browse to the Quick Delivery Task to schedule/execute.
  2. Under the setting page, under the Task Status section, click on New Schedule.
  3. Choose Now or a specific schedule using the radial button and applicable controls. Due to the nature of a Quick Delivery, for this example I'll use Now.
  4. Under the Input section, click Add v > Computers or Devices. If you have a Target saved of systems to use, you can alternately use Target from the dropdown and link to it. Use this screenshot for reference:

  5. In the resulting window select the systems you wish to run the job on. The following methods can assist in finding designated computers:
    1. Use the Group: dropdown to filter results by Organizational objects/views.
    2. Use the Search field to filter the results based on computer name.
    3. Multi-select computers using the Ctrl and Shift keys and use the >> button to transfer them over.
  6. Click OK once the computers you need are included.
  7. Click Schedule to commit the execution/schedule.
  8. The status can be reviewed in the Input section as each execution will be listed. Double-click on the entry to track the status of the Quick Delivery task.

In a large environment, obviously using the above method would be cumbersome and take significant time. Targets are the answer for this. Targets are dynamic collections of computers. The following example shows a basic Target being created.

Targets

  1. Browse to the Quick Delivery Task to schedule/execute.
  2. Under the setting page, under the Task Status section, click on New Schedule.
  3. Choose Now or a specific schedule using the radial button and applicable controls. Due to the nature of a Quick Delivery, for this example I'll use Now.
  4. Under the Input section, click Add v > Target.
  5. Click the Add Rule button.
  6. Leave the selection exclude resources in, and the type to Filter.
  7. Type Windows Servers and click the dropdown arrow in the third field.
  8. Select Windows Servers from the dropdown (we will be excluding all Windows servers based on our criteria).
  9. Click Update results to see what is returned. See this screenshot for an example:

  10. Click OK to apply the Target.
  11. Done! You can now execute the task or set the schedule for execution.

Alternatively you can create your own Filter, to exclude or not exclude, a list of computers. The Filters can be static or dynamic. In this way it gives you full flexibility when setting up your targets for a Quick Delivery Task.

Task Server

Task Server is the engine behind Quick Delivery Tasks. These Tasks are no initiated on the Altiris Agent side, but are pushed down from the Target system's Task Server at the scheduled time. The process is as follows, in high level view. Use the previously covered items to fill in the specifics on this process:

  1. An administrator configures a Quick Delivery Task by choosing a Software Resource and a Command Line.
  2. A Filter, or basically a collection of computers, is selected to receive the Task.
  3. A schedule is set. A popular choice is the "Now" option.
  4. The Notification Server passes the Task to the applicable Task Servers.
  5. The Task Servers take the Task and pushes it down to the Client Task Agent running within the Altiris Agent at the Target Systems.
  6. The Client Task Agent accepts the Task and executes the Task.
  7. This Agent first employs the Package download mechanisms within the Altiris Agent to download the package. Normal statuses for the download are passed up as with any internal NS policy or Managed Software Delivery policy.
    NOTE: I've stated it before but it's worth mentioning again. The download is considered part of the Task's execution time.
  8. Once the package is downloaded, the Command-line is executed per the configuration within the Software Resource.
  9. The execution completes and provides the applicable exit code back to the Client Task Agent.
  10. The Client Task Agent passes the status up to the Task Server.

If your Task Server environment is healthy and properly distributed (Site Servers configured to spread the load out) the Executions should begin in real time. Latency is minimized and the completion of the Task should occur quickly when you allow for the length of the execution. If there are few task servers for a large target, the tasks will not all execute at once as the Task Server moves through the list.

Return to Symantec Software Management 7.1 Best Practices, Part 2

Read: Symantec Software Management 7.1 Best Practices, Part 4

Comments 5 CommentsJump to latest comment

Rick D's picture

Joel, 

You may want to correct "Coming soon:  Part 4" at the end of the document. 

Awesome articles, keep up the Great work!

Rick

https://www-secure.symantec.com/connect/articles/symantec-software-management-71-best-practices-part-4

 

 

0
Login to vote
ohzone - CherylPeterson's picture

OOPS! That was "pilot error" - all on me... I've fixed that link now!

Thanks for the heads up Rick D

Cheryl

Endpoint Management,
Endpoint Virtualization
Managing Mobility
Community Manager
www.twitter.com/EMnV_symc
Need Altiris help? IRC chat #Altiris

0
Login to vote
Kada's picture

Great article.

I have one experience with task. If there is Maintenance window active and you send task Get Ip Configuration the task will not run and will wait for Maintenance window. Example: Maintenance window is from 5PM till 6AM. You will send Get IP at 3 PM, the task will not run. Status of the task is incorect - running instead of not started. In log you can see task being put to sleep for 5 minutes.

 

0
Login to vote
Pascal KOTTE's picture

If running a task, the timeout seems to start from launch, so if the "delay" running is set to 30mn, the task will fail if next maintenance windows 1 hour later ! I feel !

The option "override Maintenance Windows" is very important to activate for a simple info command like sample from Kada :)

~Pascal @ Kotte.net~ Do you speak French? Et utilisez Altiris: venez nous rejoindre sur le GUASF

0
Login to vote
SK's picture

Does this still pertain to 7.5?

Connect Etiquette: "Mark as Solution" those posts which resolve your problem, and give a thumbs up to useful comments, articles and downloads.

0
Login to vote