Wilson & Company, Engineers and Architects

Building an 'unbuildable' desktop image.

Network management - more All-Stars: Wilson & Company, Engineers and Architects.

The IT staff at this fast-growing Albuquerque, N.M., firm was up to its elbows getting desktops ready for new hires and maintaining older ones that employees use for office, geospatial and computer-aided-design applications.

In February, network administrator Brett Maltbie and his team invented a method to create a single base image that loads Microsoft XP Service Pack 2 on more than 85 models of workstations from eight manufacturers - this despite Microsoft's claim that most hardware abstraction layers require their own image.

He created the ultraflexible image using Microsoft's Sysprep, Bart's Preinstalled Environment PE freeware and the Notification Server and Rapid Deploy features from Altiris' Client Management Suite.

"We can take our image and convert it to pretty much any HAL that exists," he says. "The coolest part is that . . . a rebuild takes under two minutes and used to take two hours." The project cost a mere $3,000 and saves $12,000 a year, Maltbie estimates.

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