Lanovation introduces distribution tool

As a follow-up to its PictureTaker re-packaging software that takes a snapshot of the hard drive for software distribution, Minneapolis, Minn.-based Lanovation announced the PrismXL technology in April and launched the first product in the line of software this month.

As a software tool, Prism Deploy allows network administrators to distribute software and updates across the network to local and remote computers, said Kristina Halvorson, a spokesperson for Lanovation. According to Halvorson, customers liked the PictureTaker software but wanted a network software distribution application, so the company developed PrismXL.

“What we’ve consistently heard from customers is ‘You’re re-packaging technology for distribution is so good, but then you leave it up to me to distribute it.’ So in other words, we help them create the file that they’re going to send out to install or update software on multiple PCs. And they wanted us to go a step further and actually become a full-scale distribution solution so that we would actually provide the distribution mechanism,” Halvorson said. PictureTaker, as well as the company’s Conflict Checker Professional, is being incorporated into PrismXL-based software.

Fred Broussard, a senior research analyst with Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp. (IDC), said software distribution is one of the biggest issues in computer networking right now.

“Companies are always distributing software applications,” he said. “I’ve heard of companies distributing maybe 100 applications in a year.” Often enough, the applications being distributed to the network are software packages or software updates, but anti-virus updates are also pushed out.

Halvorson assured Prism Deploy is easy to use with its graphical user interface and allows for flexibility in multi-operating system (OS) environments. Most of Lanovation’s customers do not solely run on one OS, nor will they ever, she said.

“We specifically designed our technology to excel in mixed environments,” she said.

Prism Deploy is installed to a local hard drive, not a server. Lanovation recommends using a clean machine dedicated to Prism Deploy. For example, if a company wanted to roll out an update to Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), the network administrator would install the Lanovation software to the clean hard drive and Prism Deploy would take a baseline picture of the hard drive as it exists. Then the IE update is installed to the hard drive and Prism Deploy examines how the hard drive has changed. It captures the changes into a group of files, which can be edited or customized by the administrator. Chances are, each hard drive configuration within the network is going to be slightly different – different version of Windows, different location of IE on the hard drive, etc. Prism Deploy can be instructed to check for different configurations and update IE accordingly.

“It’s one of the reasons we don’t depend on any type of inventory application to first go out and scan the target PCs and tell us what’s on the hard drive. We don’t care what’s on there. Our smart variables will handle the different configurations on the individual hard drives,” said Paul Newell, vice-president of marketing at Lanovation.

John Peters, a consultant with OTG-Systems Inc. of Brooklyn Park, Minn., said he uses PictureTaker to manage a wide area network for Honeywell International Inc.’s Home & Building Control business. The network is made up of 120 Microsoft and Novell servers with 7,000 users scattered around the U.S., Canada and Mexico in 90 cities. At press time, Peters had only been briefed on Prism Deploy and had not yet seen a demo, but he said he will use the new application if he likes what he sees.

Peters said he likes the small update files because there are more than 300 remote users connected to Honeywell’s corporate network over a low-bandwidth Internet connection. The small compressed file is supposed to be easily downloaded and installed.

Prism Deploy is available now. Pricing starts at US$2,000 for 100 licences. For more information Lanovation can be found on the Web at