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When will come new Version of Ghost - GSS 3.0?

Created: 08 Aug 2012 | 231 comments

We are living  more than 3 years with ghost 2.5.  We need support for more system and new hardware. When will come new Ghost solution Suite 3.0

 

Raff

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EdT's picture

Rumours would indicate that it may appear at the end of the year, but I very much doubt there will be any advance notification of a release date.

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jon_sharp's picture

@Raff

EdT is right. On both accounts, unfortuantely.

Our goal has been to release a new version of GSS by end-of-year. It is now looking, based on our current milestones, like more of a 1st quarter of 2013 release date. I know we can't get this out soon enough. We're working hard to make it happen, but unfortunately our original plan is no longer realistic.

Thanks,
Jon

 

 

Sr. Product Manager
Endpoint Management and Mobility Group
Symantec Corp.

AnthonySHill's picture

thanks for keeping us informed Jon Sharp. We look forward to more updates.

KlausJ's picture

I sure hope they'll still include the DOS version - every single license I have sold to any client, involves the DOS client and bootable 1.44 floppies (these days, 1.44/2.88MB virtual flopies on CD-ROMs).

pkaurav's picture

Hi KlausJ,

It would be great if you can give more information about how customer use DOS  specially switches of different binaries , task , end to end use case.

Thanks

Pushpraj Kaurav

KlausJ's picture

We use the DOS Ghost.exe from Ghost Solution Suite 2.5.1 99% of the time. If any Symantec engineer wants to see exactly how, send me a personal message with an *@symantec.com e-mail address - then I'll email a small 5MB ISO file, containing a bootable .ISO - with a virtual 2.88MB floppy.

The 2.88MB floppy has a .ZIP packed ghost.exe + a RAM drive, allowing ghost to exist on the 2.88MB floppy, and also allow a mouse driver to save it's settings - despite being on a CD-ROM.

Unlike WinPE, it boots and shows Ghost in less than 5 seconds after boot - no user intervention needed before.

Usual switches needed when creating an image: -fro -sure -ib z9 -split=635 -ntexact -fdsp

Usual switches when cloning back to many PCs: -sure -ntexact

Usual switches when cloning back to a single PC: -sure -ntexact -fdsp

And...here's the coolest thing about the DOS version over the Windows version: it's VERY good at reading broken hard drives. When cloning broken drives, some times, we have to clone disk-to-disk due to network time-out's - that's understandable. When a drive, which is REALLY broken, and can't even be read in Windows and disk-to-disk cloning never finishes...we still try to clone it with DOS Ghost and then use a file recovery program which is able to scan the entire drive over a few hour's...and then recover at least SOME files. Only a week ago, I saved +7000 pictures for a customer who had dropped her laptop on the floor. Without Ghost...we couldn't have done it.

 

If we try the same thing with the Windows version...it usually just crashes.

We DO use the Windows version with BartPE. Some servers are just to odd to work with normal disk-builder in Symantec's PC builder. BartPE...let us do the magic :-)

ljtrombone's picture

I use ghost32.exe on a WinPE3.1 on a dc-rom or a bootable flash drive. It can be pretty slow to boot. Could you pass along any helpful details about your setup? Also does ghost.exe have any performance issues compared to ghost32.exe? I go to many remote libraries and many use the bootable cd and images on a portable hard drive for several reasons. A quicker boot with comparable performance would be great! Thanks.

KlausJ's picture

We don't use WinPE unless needed, we use BartPE - the PE builder available at http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/ allows us to integrate any controller and LAN driver as we see fit. Instead of using WinXP as source OS, we use Win2K3 R2 - it already contains a lot of native drivers for older IBM ServeRAID controllers etc. + you don't have any memory limitations (DOS version of ghost has crashed a lot on us if the source disk is severely fragmented).

Why do we use DOS Ghost? Because the DOS version only needs a LAN NDIS2 driver + it's a lot better at handling defective drives. We have also noticed that as long as we're speaking non-UEFI systems, the latest ghost solution suite doesn't seem to have any issues with Windows 8...

Xavier Ronteix's picture

Hi al,

 

Do you know at least if there will be soon a version compatible with Windows 8, as many troubles are encountered in imaging (capture and deploy) and client sides.

Please send Private Message if you need some early adopter to test the latest version/patch.

 

Best regards,

 

Xavier

KlausJ's picture

I second that - we're running on Microsoft MSDN Windows 8 here, so feel free to contact your's truly for help with testing any DOS/Windows version of Ghost (full cloning, not app. deployment).

Nitin's picture

Hi,

As Jon mentioned that our original plan for GSS is no longer realistic, you still can achieve Windows 8 imaging via Deployment Solution (DS) in ITMS (named as Orion) which is releasing shortly. There will be limited support for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 imaging (create and deploy image on same hardware, no Deploy Anywhere support), scripted os install (SOI) in DS, UEFI support for SOI in DS, UEFI PXE boot support in Network Boot Service in DS.

 

 

Regards,
Nitin

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jimmynwade's picture

"Hey guys! No GSS, but you can buy Altir... I mean ITMS! It's not covered under existing maintenance contracts, but hey, you've got money to spend on a product that does way more than you need, right?"

kghmmond's picture

My managers are asking us if we should renew our maintenance for GSS and after a few years of virtually no updates, I am having a hard time giving them any justification to keep it.

GSS 3.0 appears to be VaporWare.  I think it is time to move to SCCC/MDT/WDS for imaging.

We loved you Ghost, and we miss you.  Have a good life.

Kevin

jswood727's picture

I too had to make the decision to renew or not.  I hope this thread is not just additional vapor ware from Symantec.  If this project does in fact get canceled again, there will be some upset customers, me being one of them.  I have other Symantec products and this would be the straw to make me switch to alternative vendors.  That being said, I would like to make a recommendation that version 3 contain a multi-user console.  This is a major issue with the current product. 

jimmynwade's picture

Are there any details you can provide re: 3.0 that techs can use to justify renewing maintenance? We've got an SCCM 2012 implementation in the works, but I love the simplicity that I got out of GSS. That said, it's a line-item on a budget.

jon_sharp's picture

All-

We are still planning on GSS 3.0, and have a team of developers working on it now. I know this is very long-coming, but I want to reassure you, as best as I can without actually handing you code--which I'd like to do, but can't yet--that we are actively working on it. I hope that when we release it, the wait will be worth it.

Thank you.

Sr. Product Manager
Endpoint Management and Mobility Group
Symantec Corp.

EdT's picture

Is this a part-time undertaking or is there an actual project plan that would allow you to estimate a completion date?

If your issue has been solved, please use the "Mark as Solution" link on the most relevant thread.

Kurbycar32's picture

 

Limiting my complaining to one paragraph:

GSS is so far behind the times I have had hardware rolling in for months now that I can’t support with the current product.  The only other alternative is to use WDS which has come quite a long way since I last used it and once its implemented I can say there’s probably 0% chance of coming back to Symantec.

We are having similar problems with BackupExec not supporting server 2012 but they at least have "pending" kb article”

 http://www.symantec.com/business/support/index?page=content&id=TECH196108&actp=SUBSCRIPTION

Can the GSS team make a similar KB that we can subscribe to so we get updated on its release?

eric26's picture

Hi there, any news from GSS 3 ? If you need an alpha/beta tester contact me, i'm so inpatient to see what new features come with the console ! Do you have some screenshots available ?

EdT's picture

As you can see from this thread, progress updates are few and far between. Patience is necessary, and if you see hell freezing over, assume it's not going to happen.  ;-)

If your issue has been solved, please use the "Mark as Solution" link on the most relevant thread.

eric26's picture

i hope that if they give up, they release the source code at least ....

jimmynwade's picture

Well, I tried. They won't renew maintenance without some kind of evidence that a damned thing is happening. Congratulations on creating the Duke Nukem Forever of imaging suites.

jswood727's picture

It would be nice to at least have an update on the progress (if any) and a new release date.  I highly doubt this is a real project

Pete Gomersall's picture

This is what I have been told by third party with "big links" with Symantec:

I did get a response from somebody a bit higher up within the Symantec organization and they stated that they would not be launching a version 3 for GSS…

jswood727's picture

Which makes the statements above by Symantec employees all the worse.  Just kill the product. 

EdT's picture

It's all smoke and mirrors. Let's face it, the customer base for any future Ghost releases is dropping every day and Symantec are not going to invest development time in a product where they may not recoup their dev costs. They just buy a product/company and then use it as a cash cow for as long as possible before retiring it. I expect the same will happen with Ghost in due course.

If your issue has been solved, please use the "Mark as Solution" link on the most relevant thread.

jswood727's picture

I agree and most companies have moved on.  The thing that bothers me is them saying once again that they restarted the development. 

eric26's picture

Altiris is way too much expensive. I think there is a real market for GSS with Small and Medium Business because of its price. Who wants to spend 40$ per machine for a deployment software ??? it's way too much !

EdT's picture

WinPE includes their imaging/compression tool "imagex.exe".  It is not that difficult to use for imaging machines from a network server or from local USB devices.

If your issue has been solved, please use the "Mark as Solution" link on the most relevant thread.

jimmynwade's picture

WDS and MDT are free, and the multicast model is pretty awesome.

EdT's picture

Nothing from Microsoft is <free> - there is always a cost overhead in there somewhere....;-))

If your issue has been solved, please use the "Mark as Solution" link on the most relevant thread.

jimmynwade's picture

Fair point. FOG (http://fogproject.orgis free, however, and it's been acting as a great GSS replacement for several organizations I've worked with.

Kurbycar32's picture

I think if they could just allow the end user to install the latest version of PE into the boot wizard many of the compatability issues would be resolved (EUFI and GPT).  I tried replacing the PE source files myself but the program choked on it

EdT's picture

It's not a case of allowing it - the structure of WinPE 3 and 4 is different to WinPE 2 so different software is needed to handle driver insertion, etc.

If your issue has been solved, please use the "Mark as Solution" link on the most relevant thread.

Hangman669's picture

I could've swore Symantec announced the end of GSS a year or so ago. I thought 2.5 was the last version and gave up on ever getting a new piece of software.

uoft's picture

A sales agent I spoke with wasn't aware of 3.0 coming out so it is either dead or not even close to release.

EdT's picture

Sales agents won't necessarily know. The posting by Jon Sharp on 21st December 2012 is probably the nearest to those in the know as he is the PM for Ghost, but he has been awfully quiet since then, which indeed suggests little prospect of any release in the forseeable future.

If your issue has been solved, please use the "Mark as Solution" link on the most relevant thread.

Alamosa's picture

Once again, another Symantec Product (much like backup exec) that we have depended on for years and years falls dead.  I can no longer wait.  I won't be renewing.  Last chance Mr. PM.  You just keep locking threads, starting new ones and still NOTHING.

 

I'm DONE.  No Ghost, No Endpoint, NO BACKUP EXEC.  No SYMANTEC!  I WANT A REFUND FOR 20 YEARS OF LOYALTY!

 

jswood727's picture

I would say no update from the PM since December pretty much indicates this product is yet again dead. 

Kurbycar32's picture

I just finished my Windows Deployment Services (WDS) project after Ghost wasnt able to deal with any of my new equipment.  I am currently in the middle of implementing Data Protection Manager to replace Backup Exec since it doesnt support Windows 8 or Server 2012.  We dumped Norton enterprise about 6 years ago after it was triple the price of Sophos and paired with terrible support.  We also implemented a Barracuda email archiving system when your own solution came in quoted 50 grand higher.  We probably would have dropped about a quarter million dollars on your software over 10 years if they kept up with the times and priced themselves competetively.  In the end I guess thanks for removing yourself from the competitive marketplace and saving me a mint in licensing.

BugTastic's picture

This just seems to be the case with symantec in every product of theirs i've came across. Maybe if they spent less on marketing and more on developing, they might be some light at the end of the tunnel. Symantecs mantra is '"The next release will fix that!"

Keith Hemmelman's picture

You know Symantec, a simple note indicating the GSS product line is dead would be sufficient.  It's not like you're going to loose any sales from anyone here if you announce the end of life for GSS, because everyone here already paid for it years ago.  No need to string anyone along even more.

I think this little professional courtesy is not too much to ask.

If you are going to surprise the world and produce a new version that supports Windows 8, UEFI, etc., then you have kind of missed that boat because in case you haven't noticed, those items have been out for some time now and we've all had to scramble to find alternative solutions, already leaving GSS behind on those items, which as you can imagine has left a somewhat negative impression towards Symantec.

 

kghmmond's picture

Keith and to the rest ---

 

I was just reading that the ghost consumer product has been EOL as well.  Basically put, I don't think the ghost.exe in any way shape or form will ever support EUFI / GPT, etc.

Symantec has unofficilly, officially, killed ghost in all shapes and forms.  Why, got me, it was the standard forever.  It did everything we needed and it worked.  I just don't get it.  You have a industry standard product and you just stop making it.

Not to get too far on a tangent rant, but I am getting tired of all these companies buying each other up and killing products.

I still miss Lookout.  Microsoft bought and killed that and somehow turned it into MS Search.  I just wanted a search tool for Outlook, not a whole OS search tool.  Oh well, what can we do...

jon_sharp's picture

Ghost Solution Suite (GSS) was not EOL'd. That was Norton Ghost. That product is not the consumer version of GSS, but really a different product. The two aren't related (though they might have been at some point). I state that just to make sure you all are aware that the EOL of Norton Ghost has no effect on GSS. 

GSS has not been EOL'd. Nor, at this time, do we anticipate doing so. I've stated before on this forum that we have a release planned. Unfortunately, with a new CEO put in place, all our products were put through a more rigorous evaluation. This has delayed GSS significantly. 

I know we are very far behind for some of these platform support items, so we are working as fast as possible to get this update into your hands. 

I hope that clarifies things. 

Sr. Product Manager
Endpoint Management and Mobility Group
Symantec Corp.

EdT's picture

As the poster commented, it was the retail version of Ghost that was EOL'd. This was based on the old Partition Magic product that Symantec acquired many years ago, and drove into a wall. PM was one of my toolkit apps back in the floppy disk days, and I'm guessing that Symantec tried to capitalize on the Ghost name when they re-engineered PM into the rather poorer retail version.  I think the relationship was nothing more than sharing a name.  Frankly, the Paragon Partition Manager product is what retail Ghost should have been competing with, but it failed on both price and performance, and there is, I suspect, no money to be made in this part of the market given the cost of developing something that works properly with modern hardware.

Jon - I don't envy you your position.

We, as users, well understand the need for a product to recoup development costs and make a profit as well, otherwise there is no point in spending any money on developing it. Given the lack of clarity within Symantec, it is up to you to try and maintain some level of hope in what remains of your customer base, but that hope is fading day by day as you/Symantec are unable to give any real information on your intentions. Of course, the potential market for Ghost is also dropping day by day and sooner or later, a point will come when the development cost of a new version exceeds the potential market, and you will be forced to tell us that the GSS product has been EOL'd as well.

What I believe Symantec is overlooking is how its general reputation is being damaged by this form of negative marketing. Technicians talk to each other, and todays first line support technicians will become the CIOs of the future, and will remember the tales of Symantec they heard from their colleagues and the events they saw for themselves.

The phrase "I no longer trust Symantec because of........" is becoming commonplace amongst my peers and unless your new CEO is somehow able to change the entire culture of Symantec, then I really fear for your future. 

If your issue has been solved, please use the "Mark as Solution" link on the most relevant thread.

KlausJ's picture

I just hope that, if a new version is released, it won't be totally redone like Backup Exec 2012...where so many functions and options have been pulled out...

eric26's picture

Well, who the hell is your CEO so we could write him and tell him what we think ? An other finance guy who doesn't understand anything in IT i guess !

GSS was cheap compared to alternative products, and just worked fine. It just needed some new functionnality. Now we're stucked with Microsoft's crap !

And ghost could could clone my dual boot (Win/Linux) computers, that was for us a greeaaat feature !

Symantec has to put more staff on this project, to release a new version before 2014.

EdT's picture

Type "symantec ceo fired" into Google - pretty much tells you all you need to know.

If your issue has been solved, please use the "Mark as Solution" link on the most relevant thread.

jswood727's picture

Customer communication is lacking.  First we are told a new version is coming hold on.  Again we are told a new version is coming.  Then no communications from the project manager for 4+ months.  This leads to the speculation that we are once again being strung along by Symantec.  The previous post mentioning reputation is dead on.  Many of us are not only current/former Ghost clients but also use other Symantec products.  This type of customer service (new CEO or not) will kill the company because I for one will always think twice about purchasing additional products if this is the way the company will treat its clients.  Just communicate a schedule, say you dont know, or state the project is dead. 

Keith Hemmelman's picture

Jon, I appreciate the reply, but unfortunately it did not clarify anything.  We have operating systems we need a solution to image & deploy today, not at some unknown potential date in the future.

jon_sharp's picture

I understand that my reply doesn't give you much to go on. What I'm avoiding, in case it wasn't clear, was giving you seemingly concrete information that really is subject to change. 

Is there a GSS 3.0? Yes. I've seen it installed and (somewhat) functional. It isn't complete yet, (it isn't even beta quality yet, or we wouldn't be having this conversation) but it's much more than a list of requirements. 

Will it arrive when you want it to? No. For that, it would have arrived in 2011, not 2013. I regret that I was unable to deliver that solution to you guys sooner. I recognize that for some of you (the broad "you" that is not just those watching this thread), we're too late. I wish that were not the case, and I hope we can win you back. 

Let me address Windows 8. Hopefully you've all seen our support KB. While not everything works with Windows 8, some things do, and we support those things. Here's a link to the KB: http://www.symantec.com/docs/DOC6337

For UEFI: We're working on an update to GSS 2.5.1 (knowing that GSS 3.0 is further out) that will address UEFI. It won't be complete, but hopefully we'll address 80% of what customers need. This should be available in the coming months. That's what we're heads-down working on right now and it is our top priority. 

I hate to hijack this thread, but as I need info to do my job, let me pose a question to those of you on this thread: Are you GSS console users, or do you mostly just use the various tools? So we don't over-run this thread, please PM me if you'd like to respond. Thanks!

I hope this info is helpful. I'm certain it is nothing like the "GSS will ship on such and such date with features X, Y, Z" but I hope it has provided you with some helpful info. 

Thanks for listening.

Sr. Product Manager
Endpoint Management and Mobility Group
Symantec Corp.

EdT's picture

Is any of the GSS 3.0 work new, or are you still working with the code that the dev team produced before they were disbanded a few years ago?

Also, a version of Ghost is bundled with DS - is this being updated in line with the standalone product?

If your issue has been solved, please use the "Mark as Solution" link on the most relevant thread.

jon_sharp's picture

@EdT:

Some of the work is net-new, some of it is part of the original GSS 3.0 work. Yes, the Ghost tools that are bundled with DS are also being updated along-side the GSS 3.0 work. Both products benefit from some of the work that's going into GSS 3.0. 

Sr. Product Manager
Endpoint Management and Mobility Group
Symantec Corp.

Pete Gomersall's picture

We use GSS 2.5.1 in a variety of ways.
1) Build simple DOS boot disks for mcast sessions.
2) Build MS PE with ghost tools embedded.
3) Use the console to image whole buildings of machines at same time via multicast sessions. We install Ghost client on our images, create imaging tasks and separate rename and join domain tasks. We can image a whole building without ever physically attending\touching a machine.
4) Use Console for executing commands and pushing files - however this has been taken over by PowerShell remoting.

Items 1 and 2 would be easy to go without as free MS tools and a bit of scripting would suffice. However for us the item 3 the Console is crucial tool. It has a light footprint is easy to setup and maintain and just works. Even the current version based on Vista still has never failed us. Obviously when we come to discuss Windows 8 and forward - then we are at a standstill. I for one would like to move the build of our machines to Windows 8, but this will not be possible until we get an update to GSS that provides full support for Windows 8 within the Console. Currently the standalone tools work fine; we just need the Console updating.
Regards,
Pete

HTBG's picture

Like Pete, we use GSS 2.5.1 as a critical part of our imaging system. When it came to investigating deploying Windows 8 at our school, I did a test run and every step works perfectly to a point... I can capture the image, I can manually deploy the image via WinPE from the target machine.

The issue lies with the Ghost Client for Windows. It is not able to report the computer name / configuration to Console, and so we are unable to use Ghost for image push to whole rooms or buildings at a time, and the configuration task to rename the computer and join the domain no longer works.

I do not know the inner workings of Ghost, but it seems to me the issue lies solely in the client application, in that it cannot read and report the computer configuration correctly. If we could only get the client to function correctly, all else is fine.

We are already committed to deploying Windows 8 in 2013, so I will need to look into WDS or similar moving forward. I will keep an eye on this thread in hopes that Ghost updates soon, as if it was currently working our deployment project is already finished!

jon_sharp's picture

@Pete Gomersall, @HTBG,

Thanks for the feedback, guys. Very helpful. And Pete, I hope I didn't give the impression of getting rid of the console. I don't imagine there will ever come a day when that makes sense to do and it is certainly not part of our plans now. 

Yes, a lot of the issues you see with Windows 8 imaging comes from problems with the Ghost Client on Windows 8. That's not all of it, but it is the lion's share.

Thank you,
Jon

Sr. Product Manager
Endpoint Management and Mobility Group
Symantec Corp.

HTBG's picture

Thanks for your fast response @jon_sharp

As I image our school only twice a year on set dates (during semester breaks), and one is fast approaching (40 work days left), I have decided to do a one-time dirty deployment. As all our computers currently run Windows 7 and register in Console, I can push a Windows 8 image one time. I will write a script to join the domain in post-ghost.

Subsequently I will never be able to push from Ghost 2.5.1 again, but that will give me until December to develop an alternative or hopefully for Ghost 3.0 to come out :)

This also gives me more time to focus on making our Windows 8 image the best it can be rather than delay it to develop a new system.

BMStealth's picture

Being that this is June 2013 and no sign or hint of a release date, I would bet on the release date to be when pigs fly.

I'm currently using GSS2.5.1 to image my labs fairly easy still with the latest hardware in the lab and ghost cast server. The only big issue right now is that, multicast needs to be updated so that you are not stuck at the speed of the slowest computer due to networking issues.

I've made it work this long with some add on tools and scripts that I wrote, but I think it's about time I move on to something that actually has support. Right now, I'm holding my breath that the next hardware release doesn't break my imaging processes with Ghost.

Good luck on that GSS 3.0 for all of you that are still waiting for it!

Nigel Bree's picture

The only big issue right now is that, multicast needs to be updated so that you are not stuck at the speed of the slowest computer due to networking issues.

Yeah, that's awful. But it's also a really hard thing to fix.
 
Once I'd had to take over maintaining GhostCast as well as my main job looking after the GSS management system, that aspect of multicast was one of the specific problems I spent a lot of time thinking on ways to solve. We made a lot of proposals for trying to help with it when I was still at Symantec but management didn't want to fund any of them. Admittedly, most of the proposals weren't ideal since the core Ghost codebase had been under-invested in for so many years and that massively limited our options - Ghost's core cloning just isn't compatible with most of the design techniques to do the networking better, and given Symantec's pitiful reinvestment rate in Ghost (the lifetime average was under 3% of revenue even then) the proposals which involved replacing the core cloning system with something better just never got seriously considered. It'd have cost maybe 5% of Ghost's revenue at the time to do it with the great team we had then (already in place with the right people and experience), and that was far too expensive to make it near the table.
 
After being laid off I set about writing a brand new imaging/backup-type product that could address Ghost's image distribution problems properly (along with eliminating a lot of the core limitations of the Ghost engine, like deduplication of image data and making efficient site-to-site replication of images possible); after about a year we had a working prototype that could image systems and restore systems my business partner showed it around and we really got no interest, including from Symantec, so we ended up looking for something else to do with the ideas other than deployment.

It's a catch-22 for me as a developer who would love to keep making products in this area, because the corporates like Symantec aren't investing in these product areas, but the primary customer base for products like GSS are corporates who in turn prefer their suppliers to be corporates rather than small startups from outside North America. It took years for Ghost originally to build enough business organically from its base in New Zealand to get noticed, and Ghost never really had a lot of corporate customers until after it was bought by Symantec - that's what gave the product the credibility to win the level of corporate business it eventually did.

But that time around the market was fairly empty, since it was a new product category. Now we have a stable market full of tools like GSS that aren't as good as they should be are still "good enough" for lots of people as well as giveaways from Microsoft and various other things clogging up the bottom end of the market where a small firm would normally try to sell to and grow organically, as it needs to do to get big enough to be able to devote money to solving the problems only corporate customers have.

Eventually someone will manage to get lucky and find a way to break through with something that can address the market GSS is in with some fresh thinking and better tech, but it'll take a while to do since the main avenues for getting there - funding-wise or for organic growth - are all clogged up.

PetterOsterlund's picture

Nigel,

maybe a kickstarter project? :)

Nigel Bree's picture

Heh. Of course Kickstarter only do "creative" projects, and successful Kickstarters tend to be things that generate a lot of "buzz". Since what we're talking about are infrastructure products, as passionate as I certainly am about infrastructure, I can't see gaining the kind of word-of-mouth excitement it'd need. Mind you, looking at what Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs has done for people working on physical infrastructure, a Kickstarter for a "Mike Rowe's Dirty IT Jobs" special would totally be something I'd cheer :-)

More seriously, making something for this market - i.e., you guys - is not about making a product as much as it is about being a dependable partner in a relationship.

At our studio, part of that for GSS releases was that they were made and planned to a cadence that we kept up for a great many years - sure, it was disrupted by the cancellation in 2004/2005 and the loss of the consumer product line, but we got back to it as soon as we could. Our cadence was simple; X.0 releases take 18 months from the previous X.5, and after the X.0 there would be an X.5 in 12 months, with service packs and whatnot in between. We moved things around a little to avoid holiday releases, but that's the basic tick/tock we ran to.

Predicability like that matters. It helps customers plan their operations, it gives them a good reason to pay annual maintenance agreements that include upgrade insurance because you know you're actually going to get serious upgrades every year-and-a-bit so maintanance agreements are *good value*, whereas post-cancellation GSS not so much. And of course, there are lots of other advantages to having developers and customers able to discuss future product direction openly and like adults, as we were doing (including here on this forum, as much as we were allowed - we bent an awful lot of Symantec policies having Q&A and senior devs like me being so open here, including about bugs and getting fixes and patches out) before it all got shut down.

That's all somewhat at odds with the "event-oriented" nature of crowdfunding, and even with a lot of VC-type funding - a common complaint you'll see at startup-oriented culture sites like Hacker News is that tech VC's have a "go big or go home" mentality of doing things that hurt the long-term viability of a product or business becuase they are gambling on explosive growth for their exit via sale or IPO.

So, as much as there's big challenges in even getting to the start stage of having built a new product, the really hard part comes from the fact it's just a starting point for something that needs to be a long-term relationship and conversation - about what the next problem we need to solve is, or what else you want improved, and so on and so forth. Building trust that your product works and is dependable takes time, and demonstrating you're a trustworthy partner takes time too.

Ultimately, from my perspective as a guy who writes code rather than a showman or marketer, I don't know any better way to do that than the old organic-growth way of building something and then being seen to be standing behind it. Which takes years, of course.

EdT's picture

...and that may well be the true reason why Symantec are not investing in the product - they don't see a sufficient return on the costs of development.

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Nigel Bree's picture

they don't see a sufficient return on the costs of development.

This is, more or less, the same idea as the "Zero Marginal Productivity" attempt at explaining the employment effects surrounding the global financial crisis (see http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/07/zero-marginal-product-workers.html for a handy starting point, but it's a widely discussed idea).

In the case of GSS, it's clearly fairly wide of the mark; Ghost was and remains one of the two best investments ever made by Symantec (the most well-known of the two being Norton Antivirus), and despite all the incomprehensibly bad management actions taken during Symantec's stewardship of the product it was still very profitable when it was shut down in 2009.

[ As a side note, our team made a point of internal numerical transparency; it took a lot of digging to get the data (lots of internal barriers, generally, as well as the VP who cancelled Ghost in 2004 being dead-set against us having any metrics we could use to appeal his actions), but the cost and revenue numbers for GSS (or Ghost generally) were made available within the team so we could all see how well or otherwise we were doing. Note that during the relatively brief time Symantec half-heartedly tried to use Net Promotor Score, our NPS numbers were at the top of the scale too; our NPS numbers alone were the kind of thing that - if you believe in NPS, anyway - were pretty valuable just for the halo effect on Symantec's brand. ]

At the point our studio was closed in 2009, the mean revenue per employee across all the development and Q&A staff (since product Q&A was done on-site and it's really part of R&D expenditure) was around US$4m per employee, and remember the reinvestment rate was under 3%. We weren't just profitable, we were a cash cow, and despite the low reinvestment rate we had some useful things on the table for future releases (such as being able to clone *to* a system while it was still running, for example).

A more convincing explanation is this:

Other than general cost reduction due to the GFC, Symantec had - for quite some time - a general program of reducing real-estate expenditures by closing sites, especially sites outside North America but even including NA ones, and these frequently were done even though they would destroy products. This program of site closures existed prior to the GFC, but the GFC caused it to be massively accelerated.

pre-GFC PCAnywhere, for instance, was doing about US$20mil of revenue, still profitable (not Ghost-profitable, but enough since it was a "portfolio" product), and was about to release - literally months away - a cloud offering to compete with GoToMyPC et al as part of the Symantec Protection Network. However the real-estate people wanted to close the site in Newport News, VA in which the PCA team was housed (they occupied only a small part of the facility). The team was basically told to sell up - during a housing-market crash in Newport News due to the military force realignments underway - and move to the facility in Utah or leave. So, development on the PCA product was stopped, the launch of their new online product was pulled, they were all laid off, and PCA's maintenance moved to India.

This has been an ongoing thing in Symantec; usually there's enough pushback to see that it mostly only affects dead products or really underperforming teams, but this affects lots of sites. Pretty much the only Symantec site outside NA or India that was able to escape the closure program is the former Altiris one in Talinn, Estonia - they do good work, but their survival really owes the fact that their cost structure is even better than New Zealand's (where during 2004/2005, we were picking up products like WinFAX to maintain at our site because our R&D costs were so low and we had spare developers since Ghost was cancelled during those years).

Anyway, the bottom line is that due to strange forces like real-estate portfolio management, Symantec has a number of times in the past (and probably will again in the future) kill off profitable and not at all ZMP products for reasons that really have nothing to do with the product itself.

EdT's picture

You could not make it up...

Thanks for the clarification - it is really hard to imagine profitable products being wiped out due to property management decisions, as it is contrary to what would be common sense to successful businesses I have worked with in the past 3 decades. 

This is a level of business sabotage that cannot be reasonably explained. Go figure.

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Tech_75's picture

Despite the efforts of jon_sharp, GSS 3.0 is dead. Symantec does not want to admit it for trying to sell yet GSS 2.5.1

kghmmond's picture

Assuming Jon Sharp is still a Symantec employee. :)

NYPA Bob's picture

GSS 3.0 is vaporware 2.51 was the last update, It's still cranky but works. We just purchased Acronis and if they get the starch out of there pants and give use the support we asked for, that's all we'll be using.

EdT's picture

How long before Symantec buy Acronis ?

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jswood727's picture

Jon Sharp, it has been almost 3 months since your last post.  Any updates on the progress or a decision to abandon again ?

rscovel's picture

Greetings,

I can't comment on the release of GSS 3.0, but can comment on the recently released WinPE4 / UEFI updates for the GSS 2.5.1 product.

Please view the following article for information on contacting support for obtaining the binaries needed to add WinPE4 / UEFI support to your GSS 2.5.1 product.

http://www.symantec.com/docs/DOC6587

Also, Jon Sharp is still with Symantec, and is still the PM of the Ghost Product.

Best Regards,

Russ

Russ Scovel
Inside Systems Engineer

Altiris SOS – Endpoint Management and Mobility
Symantec Corporation 
www.symantec.com

Keith Hemmelman's picture

Russ, I read throught the article, but not sure what exactly it's trying to tell me.  We have our own custom WinPE that boots up 32/64 bit UEFI systems.  All we need are Ghost executables (32/64 bit) that support UEFI partitions so we can simply 'ghost' the hard drive to an image and then back to a UEFI system like the Surface Pro or HP ElitePad tablets.

Would there really be a need to rebuild a 'different' WinPE boot disk?  Or is the purpose of this article to simply let people know that there are updated Ghost64 fles you can get and it's as simple as just copying those new files over when you build your WinPE the same way you do now?

Also, the info references this is only for 64-bit UEFI systems and that if you edit an image with Ghost Explorer that this won't work, so you can understand this really isn't a solution for folks, but regardless, if you don't have a support agreement it's a mute point anyway since you won't be able to get the files.

What we all want, and need, is to know if a new version of Ghost will be released we can buy that simply "just works" with UEFI, Windows 8, etc. and when this will happen.  Looking through this entire thread I think you will admit it's understandable why someone might think Symantec is leading everyone along and that a new version will never be released.

KlausJ's picture

Sadly, the contents of that page doesn't help much - one needs a valid support contract to get the files. And we, who paid years for upgrade etc. and got nothing, don't have any valid support contracts anymore (why pay for something that never returns anything).

So...thanks for nothing.

EdT's picture

I agree with KlausJ - if Symantec are serious about remaining in the Ghost business, then they need to offer either a GUARANTEED roadmap for product development, or at the very least make these minor upgrades available free of charge.

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Kurbycar32's picture

Nailed it EdT.  In this organization I use the product directly, collect the renewal quotes and only one person is between me and cutting the checks.  After years of having to explain why there were no product updates, and that we were paying thousands per year for the privillage, we decided no maintenance contracts without a new version.  I still dont see a new version and we arent paying for maintenance to get something that should have been developed 2 years ago.

Steven Moran's picture

What are the plans to continue/discontinue support for Deploy Center in GSS 3?

EdT's picture

There is no GSS 3.0 in this forum as far as I am aware.  Is this part of a deployment server product?  If so, I would recommend posting in the main product forum. The Ghost Solution Suite product has no development team as the team was disbanded several years ago, and any development is just rumours at the moment.

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Morris_ISD's picture

I read this thread two months ago, and then was blown away today when I received this e-mail from Symantec:

-----

Greetings!

The Endpoint Management team at SymantecTM values your insights, and we'd like to know more about your experience with Ghost Solution Suite 2.5. Please take a few minutes to fill out our brief survey as your feedback will help us to improve your experience with Symantec and to provide better quality products. Your individual response will remain confidential and will not be used for any purpose other than internal research conducted by Symantec Corporation.

If you’d like to discuss your Ghost related business needs with a Product Manager or be involved in a console prototype preview, please send an email to Jon_Sharp@symantec.com.

Thank you in advance for your participation!

-----

Here's the link to the survey.  If you're at all interested, feel free to give Symantec an earful (like I did) about how much they've been neglecting GSS.

PatPatriot55's picture

Symantec representative in the first week of August and I asked about an update to GSS.

I was informed "we will not have that release out this calendar year as previously planned.

Using GSS 2.5 4 years now.

Jared Pickerell's picture

Russ and/or Jon,

I contacted support back in July and received the mentioned patch files for 2.5.1 for 64-bit UEFI systems. http://www.symantec.com/docs/DOC6587 I was told that there were patches for 32-bit systems being worked on and they should be available for testing in the next serveral weeks and that the related Symantec doc files/KB articles would be updated.

I had an imaging project that needed to be done before school started (around 40 HP Envy X2 hybrids which are 32-bit UEFI) so I found a solution with a Windows 8 based WinPE envinronment using batch files and the diskpart, imagex, and bcdboot utilites. It worked but not as nice as my trusty Ghost.

It's been almost three months since my support ticket and no mention online of 32-bit versions. Is there any chance to get a copy of those 32-bit patch files for testing? (I can go through support to get them as I have kept maintennce for now) Any updates at all on how GSS 3.0 is going?

-Jared

EdT's picture

GSS3.0 development was overtaken by glaciers earlier this year. Contact tech for any information on 32 bit versions as there is never any information of that type volunteered here by Symantec employees.

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Sven Suba's picture

Been looking at this thread for a year now hoping to see some news.  We have many clients using Ghost Solutions suite and have been paying maintenance on this.  It is our go to imaging solution and I'm not eager to change.

But this is starting to become a joke.  At least give us a road map on what the plan is with this product.  Is there ANY development on this product all all or plans for it?

EdT's picture

It's no joke - I believe there were some plans once upon a time, but time has passed and nothing has materialised.  The promises of Symantec with regards to Ghost are now a training ground for politicians to learn how to mislead the public and keep a straight face while doing it.

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PatPatriot55's picture

As an OEM that utilizes not only GSS bu other Symantec products we have quarterly updates (Roadmaps) from Symantec  and GSS is always an after thought for them. Never a straight answer, meanwhile most of "Symantec" team guys are gone.  Meanwhile I have been learning to use Microsoft's OPK tools. What a discouraging developement this has turned out to be.

Sven Suba's picture

No doubt :-(

We have offically given up and will start to spend some time looking at WDS and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 to find a similar working solution moving forward.

Kurbycar32's picture

Our WDS enviroment actually works much better than ghost did when tied with SCCM.  in fact i just dumped the 32/64 bit ghost executable into my WDS boot disk in case i needed to use an old legacy image for some reason.

PatPatriot55's picture

For me GSS provided an easier, cleaner option to create installable solutions. Something I can deliver to my customers.

WDS seems more suited for "IT" deployment.

Regards,

Cyndi Quin's picture

Why would anyone in their right mind discontinue a software package that so many people rely on and that is/was the best solution for enterprises?  To bad another company could not pick this up and run with it.

 

Sven Suba's picture

Agreed, doesn't make sense.  I'd be happy with a 2.6 update that allowed imaging of Windows 8 via the Ghost console and an updated WinPE with Win7/8 drivers) out of the box.

Keith Hemmelman's picture

I agree Cyndi. With Symantec killing off the corporate version of Ghost, (Ghost Solution Suite), my opinion of them has greatly been reduced. This is a source of "great" frustration to me and trying to adjust and find an alternate solution to making an image of UEFI devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet and the HP ElitePad 900 tablet. Using Ghost32.exe (or Ghost64.exe) in a WinPE boot disk is just so convenient to do on all standard desktop/laptops to quickly put our clone on these devices that I'm quite upset that Symantec won't address updating GSS to support these UEFI devices it can't clone.

There are other imaging products out there, but the few I took a quick look at have their corporate pricing and/or pricing "per workstation" too cost prohibitive. (Especially the ones that you have to "renew" a yearly maintenance agreement with to continue using the software. That's just not acceptable.)

So I would ask anyone that might still be following this thread what imaging product(s) have you switched to? We don't need "across the network deployment" or "deployment servers", etc. We simply boot up to WinPE and run Ghost and drop an image to the workstation. Simple, easy, effective, and no other infrastructure is required. Are there any comparable products to Ghost to provide a solution to how we perform cloning? Are these cost effective solutions for a larger entity? Do they work well and can image a UEFI device like a Surface Pro tablet?

EdT's picture

Have you looked at ImageX.exe which comes with the WinPE software free from Microsoft?

This creates images in much the same way as Ghost and can be automated, and of course you can roll your own WinPE solution quite easily and even write a GUI for it in HTA code. Since WinPE also runs WMI code you can easily create a bootable USB hard disk that automatically detects the target hardware and deploys the appropriate image to it without any mental loading on the technician doing the build.

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