Pragmatic Rollouts update
Over the last year plus I have been working on a Small Firm “flavor” of Pragmatic Rollouts. Something that is more affordable for sole proprietors up to say 10-15 staff. I have never liked the idea of removing functionality just to meet a price point, and I have always wanted both the pricing and functionality differences between the different flavors to be fair.
What I have been experimenting with, and testing with a couple of alpha testers, has been a purely PowerShell approach, something more like my VBScript based Pragmatic Rollouts version 2. This worked from a pricing standpoint, the Single Location & Multiple Location flavors where easier to use and more powerful, for a cost. But in the back of my mind I never liked this solution, because it puts the burden of learning PowerShell, and debugging PowerShell, on the firms least likely to actually have the time and interest in doing this. I have played with various approaches to formatting the code, and documenting things, and providing downloadable code “recipes”, and nothing made the code based approach feel right. Not only that, but the prospect of managing the code and training resources for two completely different approaches was not something that gave me the warm fuzzies.
In the meantime, I have been continuing to work on the new Jobs feature, which will allow en mass updates of multiple machines remotely. This is something that can be done now using SCCM or similar technologies, but I have found that even the very large firms don’t always have someone on staff with the SCCM experience needed to really leverage this approach. And SCCM doesn’t easily allow for focused targeting of machines and useful reporting of update results. But PowerShell has had a Remoting feature for a number of years. It is in fact the preferred way to manage a modern Microsoft server infrastructure. But it’s useful for managing workstations as well. So the Jobs feature will use PowerShell Remoting, and allow targeted updates: all machines in an office, all machines with Revit, all machines for a project team, whatever targeting criteria makes sense. With things like scheduled update windows, immediate reporting of update status and other niceties. Combined with Conform Sets (including multiple conform sets, and nested conform sets) and ongoing management of office software becomes entirely less sucky.
And that has led to a bit of an epiphany. That Jobs feature is really nice when you have 50 or more machines to manage. And “How did I live without this?!” useful for firms with hundreds of machines to manage. But, for a small firm with 10 machines? Probably just setting it up is more work than it’s worth really. So, here I finally have the differentiator I have been looking for. Pragmatic Rollouts for Small Firms will be a full featured implementation of Pragmatic Rollouts v3 with XML based “Definitions”, basically what I sell today as the Single Location flavor. Moving forward Pragmatic Rollouts for Single Location Firms will have the added feature of Jobs, and Pragmatic Rollouts for Multiple Location Firms will be Single Location with the addition of Location tokens, the Relocate capability, and Deployment migration utilities. All on the same code base, and all with shared learning resources. In a word, WOOT!
In addition, once all three flavors are finalized I am looking at a Pragmatic Customizations course, that will address customization of various tools: Revit, AutoCAD, Navisworks, BlueBeam, etc. This will be the same information available to Pragmatic Rollouts customers, but without the automation tools and associated cost. And, likely an ideal solution for Sole Proprietors who don’t need the consistency and automation aspects of the Rollouts products.
And as always, upgrades will be reduced by the full cost of the product being upgraded from.
Gonna be a busy winter!