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I was recently interviewed by Rae Clemans, Microsoft System Center Alliance Project Manager, for a Microsoft internal sales podcast. With Rae's permission I'm sharing the transcript (or the bits I can publish!).

RC: “It’s another fine day for a System Center Alliance Filling the Gap: System Center Extensions podcast, and I’m Rae Clemans, SCA Marketing Project Manager. We’ve covered a lot of ground in this series already, but we haven’t talked about how our SCA partner ENGL extends System Center to simplify the management and deployment of Windows drivers with SCCM 2007 and MDT 2010. When your customers are talking about how difficult it would be to deploy the latest version of Windows, this gives you a great opportunity to talk about how they can do it easily with SCCM and ENGL Driver Manager. Your customers would get simplified deployment, higher productivity, less down time and all the benefits that SCCM and the latest edition of Windows can bring to their business.”

“So who is ENGL? ENGL is based in Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom, AND like Microsoft they are a company with global reach and their product applies to all our System Center customers. ENGL specializes on writing tools and solutions that help administrators deploy Windows. Heath Upton has been with ENGL for almost 12 years, and is the Director of Engineering. Welcome to the podcast Heath, I’ve been looking forward to getting you and the ENGL story online.”

“First and foremost, explain to me just what is ENGL Driver Manager?”

HU: “Driver Manager is an enterprise driver management solution, that reduces the cost and time associated with deploying hardware drivers, as part of an existing Windows OS deployment.”

“It’s REALLY easy to use. Administrators import SCCM hardware inventory for the different machine models into Driver Manager. A search for the latest drivers for a Windows version and platform, for example Windows 7 64-bit, is sent to the ENGL Driver Repository on the web. Driver Manager then receives details of the latest Windows drivers that match the hardware inventory. Drivers are then automatically downloaded from the machine manufacturer and OEM web sites. Each driver is analysed to determine the best installation method, then SCCM driver and software packages are created that automate the driver installation.”

“Behind the scenes, my team is continuously data mining machine manufacturers and OEM’s to find and match the latest Windows drivers. Drivers for new machine models are typically available to Driver Manager within 1-2 weeks. If a customer finds a problem with a driver, for example a broken link or an installation failure, an ENGL support ticket can be raised from within Driver Manager.”

“We recently ran a poll targeting System Center administrators and I’d like to share some of the results with you. Over 60% of organisations have more than 2 machine manufacturers, 75% try to standardise on a single manufacturer to avoid driver deployment issues, 80% find it hard to locate the correct drivers, and 90% use trial and error to automate driver installation. Following those results you won’t be surprised to hear that all administrators polled admitted to spending more than one day PER machine model, PER OS platform, finding and packaging the Windows drivers.”

“So, Driver Manager saves organisations time and money by streamlining the processes around finding, downloading, packaging and installing Windows drivers.”

RC: “I understand that Driver Manager helps organizations to deploy Windows 7, can you describe the experience so the sales force can understand the pain you are answering for customers?”

HU: “Even thou Windows 7 and Windows 7 SP1 were released with updated drivers, there is most likely a need for enterprises to use Windows 7 drivers provided by machine manufacturers.”

“As you’ll recall from the survey, customers find deployment of drivers a major challenge and it’s often the reason why customers haven’t yet migrated from Windows XP to Windows 7.”

“If an organisation is running Windows XP now, using Driver Manager the latest Windows 7 drivers can be download, packaged and tested prior to a full OS rollout.”

RC: “Will it be able to deploy the next version?”

HU: “If you’re referring to Windows 8, then the answer is yes. As soon as the machine manufacturers and OEM’s make Windows 8 drivers available, we’ll begin checking the driver compatibility and adding them to our database.”

“It’s also worth mentioning, that we’re working on a new version of Driver Manager that will be compatible with SCCM 2012 and MDT 2012.”

RC: “I think we get the picture, but can you detail the kind of customer that would most want ENGL Driver Manager?”

HU: “Driver Manager takes away the pain from managing Windows drivers. The more machine manufacturers and models an organisation has, the more help Driver Manager will be. It’s all about time and resourcing. Each time a customer buys a new machine model, it could be a server, desktop, laptop or tablet, how much is it costing to get a consultant or internal resource to package drivers? Wouldn’t it be better for the customer to own a supported solution that enables it to manage drivers internally at an overall lower cost?”