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What do you think of Ipods in a Windows domain environment?

By justin ·
Hi everyone,

First of all, thank you for reading my post. I've done lots of searching
on this topic without finding much useful information, so any
thoughts or experiences you might share would be greatly
appreciated.

First, a little backstory:

I work in the video production industry, mainly producing training
and marketing videos for mid to large-sized corporations. I did work
for a few years as a network administrator over a handful of Windows
2000 active directory domain environments, though most of my
knowledge is now somewhat dated since switching from Windows
workstations to Mac OS X systems. Also, I now spend my time
making videos and trying to find innovative ways to distribute them
for my clients.

Over the last ten years the method for distributing those videos has
changed from VHS to CD-ROM, CD-ROM to DVD, DVD to Web
Download, and Web Download to Web Streaming.

Most of the distribution methods I've listed have required little
interaction between my client and his IT department. The questions
I've asked most frequently are "What version of Windows Media Player
are you running?" and "Do you have a DVD player on your computer?"

Recently, I've gotten several requests from clients interested in
delivering training content to their fast-food stores via iPods. One, in
particular, has gone so far as to purchase 10 30gb iPods, load them
with their 40 hour training library (15gb), and send them to 10 test
restaurants. The store manager has the option to train one worker at
a time during high volume hours, or they can train several people at
a time by plugging the iPod into the television during low volume
hours. So far this delivery method is working well.

The problem, if you haven't already guessed, is that by preloading
content onto the iPod and Fed-Exing them to stores, there's no easy
way for the corporate office to update content. They already have
several videos that need to be updated, and there's no way for that to
happen without the hassle of having the iPods mailed back to
corporate for an update.

This is when they called me. They wanted to find out if there was a
different method of distributing content to the iPods without having
to mail them back and forth. In my mind, it sounded like they needed
a way to syndicate content, so I set up a test sight that featured a
video podcast subscription. I also secured the site, which had the
added benefit of securing the podcast. The client tried it, liked it, and
would like to roll it out as the distribution method for training videos.

So far so good. I host the content, update the feeds, and everyone's
happy... Until the client says,

"Will we need to get IT involved? I don't think anyone can install
iTunes..."

What followed was a lengthy discussion that involved me saying,
"Yes, we'll have to get IT's blessing - the sooner the better, since
they'll be the ones to approve / disapprove this method..."

So that's where the project stands. My methodology, at the moment,
revolves around the ability to install iTunes (or another podcast
aggregator) on several restaurant computers that are running (I
speculate) on a Windows 2000 or 2003 domain. I would also
speculate that each store manager is locked out of installing
applications on the system.

In my mind that means that the company's IT department would need
to bless the idea of installing iTunes + Quicktime onto at least 10
store computers (probably running Win2k or XP) for the purpose of
subscribing to a video podcast being securely hosted off-site by me.

My question, in a long-winded way, is what you, the network admins,
think of this scenario? Are any of you running iTunes + iPods in a
corporate domain environment? Has your experience been positive,
neutral or negative?

Also, I realize that iTunes + iPods are Apple products, and that I
might be better suited to advocate a different program and/or
device. Looking on Microsoft's Windows Media website, they list
several players, including CREATIVE's ZEN Vision:M as a platform.
It seems this would provide several advantages, including native
Windows Media support, although the host computer would need to
be upgraded to Windows Media 9 at a minimum and have CREATIVE's
software installed as well. Seems like it might be a wash, but I'm only
speculating.

So what do you think?

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