WinINSTALL Stretches the Boundaries

The name WinINSTALL makes one think of packaging up applications, testing for conflicts, and automating the deployment of new software. The newly announced WinINSTALL 8 does all that, but has enough extras that its developer is looking to rebrand the tool next year.

OnDemand Software is itself no stranger to rebranding. An independent developer founded in 1994, OnDemand got bought by Seagate in 1996, which was then snapped up by storage powerhouse Veritas. Software installation and desktop management was never core to the Veritas mission and last year, OnDemand was spun out as a private company owned by key OnDemand executives and Veritas, with a minority stake, said company president and CEO Jack Palmer in an interview this week.

The new independent OnDemand is sticking to its WinINSTALL roots, while at the same time pushing the technology envelope, a lesson it learned from former owner Veritas. And pushing the envelope isn’t an option: With savvy competitors such as Wise and InstallShield, it’s a requirement.

Version 8 is the first step in a major effort to broaden the product line that will continue throughout the coming year. In addition to packaging and distribution, Version 8 adds inventory management (tied directly to installation), patch management and PC migration.

At WinINSTALL’s core is a central database, either the built-in MSDE, the full-blown SQL Server, or Oracle. The database “holds all of the information about software packages, conflict assessment checks, inventory to the file level and the ability to relate that to machines in your network,” the company explained.

The key advantage is the inventory data, which tracks hardware and software, and can be used to pinpoint potential conflicts by exposing “the relationship of package contents, conflict assessment results and real fine inventory in our database. … You now have the ability to compare a machine's file inventory with package contents and conflict assessment results to truly understand where conflicts truly hide,” the company added.

WinINSTALL also tracks directory data, including NT domains, Active Directory, and NDS. OnDemand, and its customers, collect conflict information and feed it into a knowledge base on the company’s web site.

The tool offers a range of software distribution options, including:

  • Drag and Drop,
  • Inventory-based Distribution – deliver software based upon their configuration,
  • Scheduled distribution,
  • User-driven Distribution -- end users can pick and choose the programs they need, and
  • Internet and e-mail-based distribution.

    OnDemand plans to broaden WinINSTALL further by adding PC migration early next year, and then a problem resolution agent, said company president Palmer. Look for competition in this space to heat up dramatically this year. Altiris recently acquired Wise Solutions, and can further integrate Wise’s packaging and conflict management technology into a range of Altiris management offerings.

  • About the Author

    Doug Barney is editorial director of Redmond Channel Partner.