Have you been searching far and wide for one simple solution to install software updates and initial software deployments to computers on your network? Have you been making excuses for why you can’t stop making everyone a local admin on their machine? EminentWare could be that solution. I know there are several similar applications out there, not the least of them being Microsoft’s SCCM, Kaseya, KBOX, etc., etc., but many of these solutions are extremely expensive and may not be in the budget for the average SMB.
EminentWare works with Microsoft Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and/or System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). My review really only includes firsthand knowledge with WSUS, but I’ll hit on SCCM later. To install it, you only need to install the application on your current WSUS server and configure it to communicate with the proper servers. The installation is fairly simple, but the configuration can be a little convoluted. However, their website offers a ton of how-to videos to help you through the process. Also, if you need more help, they are quick to respond back to you to give you a live demo or answer any specific questions you might have.
The beauty of this solution is that all of your third-party updates will now be delivered to your users via Windows Update, which can be controlled using default templates already existing in Group Policy. So there are no more scheduling hassles and making sure everything lines up right with machine restarts, patch downloads and installs, etc. It can all just be done from the same place. Although, EminentWare does offer some more granular scheduling if you need such a thing. Since this is all distributed through Windows Update, the end user does not need to be a local admin on the device, either. Not only are you keeping your users up to date, but you’re securing the desktop at the same time.
Some of the third-party software packages that they offer are Adobe products, Java, iTunes, QuickTime, and a few other commonly used applications (many of which get updated often). It also allows you to build your own packages for applications that you might use and update in your organization. Their patch catalogs are usually updated with new patch releases within two to five days after a patch has been released. They will also notify you by email when a new patch has become available.
The pre-built third-party packages are great, but another thing that’s nice about EminentWare as compared to just using the WSUS MMC is the reporting. The WSUS MMC leaves a little to be desired, which we all just seem to expect from any MMC. EminentWare offers some nice, succinct reporting that can be very useful. EminentWare also offers the ability to schedule update clean ups on a regular basis. This can take forever with the old WSUS MMC, because most of us probably leave it until we absolutely have to run the cleanup.
I haven’t gotten to test how the product works with SCCM, as my company doesn’t use it. However, I was curious about what you might gain using it with SCCM. The answer I received is that although SCCM can easily distribute patches and applications, someone still needs to create the packages. SCCM uses System Center Update Publisher to create packages and at least in the past SCUP has not been well received by administrators. That’s when many IT departments decided to turn to companies like EminentWare and just subscribe to the product update catalogs.
I have started testing EminentWare with WSUS and after some trial and error and a couple of emails back and forth with their trial support team, I was able to get everything up and running. As I mentioned before, it seems a little counter-intuitive as it feels like there are about 15 different steps you have to follow to get one update published and approved. However, after working with it a bit it has become very simple to distribute patches. Also, a lot of the steps were just initial configuration and not something you have to do every time. Other than that, I’m very happy with this software and the support services offered. I’m not sure how Solar Winds taking over will affect the company. In the short term, though, I’ve seen that there has been a large price decrease (almost 50%!) and a couple discounts added on.
This will definitely decrease some headaches I’ve gotten from working with other products that either require an agent, or haven’t been updated since 1998. The key thing for me with this software is the third-party packages, but I’m not going to complain about better reporting and more granular control! Is anyone else out there using a similar application that they like or loathe?