IntelliMirror is a set of technologies that allow users' data, settings, and applications to follow them to other computers on the network—or even off the network, in the case of laptops. The technologies that provide this ability are really just outgrowths of Group Policy. Briefly, these technologies are as follows:
- User Data Management is just a buzzword created to embody two technologies—folder redirection and offline folders. These technologies allow users to access their files from any computer on the network or from their laptops while disconnected from the network. Folder redirection is covered in Chapter 9, while offline folders is a fairly simple technology that you probably don't need much help with. (Consult the Help system or the Windows 2000 Resource Kit for additional information on offline folders.)
- User Settings Management is more simply known as roaming profiles; it allows users to log on to any computer on the network and have all of their settings follow them.
- Software Installation and Maintenance allows administrators to assign applications to users or computers so that they will always have certain applications available. Assigned applications are automatically installed from the network and can be uninstalled remotely by the administrator. Administrators can also publish applications in the Active Directory directory service, allowing users to install them when needed.
- Remote Installation Services (RIS) is closely related to the IntelliMirror technologies. RIS allows administrators to deploy Windows 2000 Professional to clients across the network. All the clients need to do is boot up from the network (using a network boot-compliant computer) and select the operating system (OS) to be installed. The rest is performed automatically.
Initially, there was a lot of confusion about how IntelliMirror relates to Microsoft's older Systems Management Server 2 (SMS). IntelliMirror and SMS each offer somewhat overlapping features, with each possessing several features the other lacks. This isn't really a problem, however, as the two technologies are designed to complement each other, with IntelliMirror providing easy and effective services for high-speed networks running Windows 2000 on the client machines and SMS providing advanced capabilities with all Windows clients and in complex networks with varying speed interconnections.
When choosing whether to use IntelliMirror or SMS (or, more likely, both), it is important to look at the features and implementation of both technologies (as well as of RIS, which is closely related to IntelliMirror). The following list describes each technology, highlighting their differences. Table 24-1 summarizes the best mix of services for your type of network.
- RIS Permits remote installation of Windows 2000 Professional on computers across the network, even if the computer is blank or nonbooting. Its functionality is similar to that provided by using unattended answer files and SysPrep, without the need to have local access to the Windows 2000 setup files or image.
- IntelliMirror Allows user data, settings, and applications to be available on any computer on the network as well as on roaming laptops that periodically synchronize with the network. IntelliMirror distributes data, software, and settings using a pull approach, meaning that the client requests data from Active Directory as needed. This approach works best when connectivity between the client and the nearest domain controller or software distribution server is at LAN speeds.
- Systems Management Server Manages the deployment of software over multiple sites, controlling the schedule and providing inventorying capabilities as well as providing planning and diagnostic tools. SMS can push software to clients using almost any version of Windows and to distribution points where users can then pull the software onto their computers or use IntelliMirror to do so.
Table 24-1. Technologies to use based on network type and client environment
|Client Type||Simple LAN, High-Speed Interconnections||Complex LAN or Multiple Sites|
|Windows 2000 ||IntelliMirror |
|Mixed Windows environment with some Windows 2000 clients ||SMS |
|Legacy Windows clients (Microsoft Windows 3.x, Microsoft Windows 95/98, Microsoft Windows NT) ||SMS ||SMS|