Automation for Application Packaging [Excerpt]

By Rory Monaghan

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If you ask any IT leader whether they plan to include more automation or less in the future, they will undoubtedly state their intention to bring in more robotic automation. In IT, automation has been commonplace for processes such as automated general base server builds, SQL Server setups, Web Server setups, Desktop deployments, and more.

Many vendors have tried in the past to automate application packaging and deployment but with very mixed results. As an anecdotal example, when I worked for a large Application Packaging Factory, we tested four different products to automate converting traditional app packages into App-V packages. We had a first-time success rate of about 28%. It was so low it made us question the value of even using the product.

 

While server builds, SQL Server setups, and Web Server setups are relatively easy to automate, application packaging and delivery are NOT. Laying down a Server Operating System and enabling the features you want to build on top of requires only a few options to be configured. SQL Server is a single application with a finite number of options to select for the setup. Web Server setups similarly have a limited number of options required during the setup.

While all of these builds are standardized, application installers are not. MSI attempted to bring standardization, but vendors did their own thing with it. Some used it as a wrapper for a setup.exe rather than using the tables provided. Due to a lack of good standards, no two installers are the same….so, how could you possibly automate this process when there are infinite variables to account for?

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