Deploying the ShoreTel Personal Call Manager through AD Group Policy!

May 19th, 2009

Installing a ShoreTel IPBX solution is a process not an event. I have previously published a book entitled “VoIP System Planning Guide” that can be download from the DrVoIP site. This guide covers the basics for planning and managing a VoIP deployment in general and a ShoreTel solution in particular. The “devil is in the details” however and though the process can be understood, the individual tasks required to complete the process generally prove there is no substitute for hands on experience!

Every installation technician comes to that fork in the road that deals with the deployment of the ShoreTel Personal Call Manager software. Deploying the actual telephone instruments is a pure act of labor, but the Personal Call Manager is an act of commitment! Each desktop in the installation will need to be touched by someone, and I do not consider an installation complete until the Call Managers are deployed and operational. There is a component of this effort that involves interVLAN routing, (e.g. getting from the desktop data network to the phone server), but I am now focused exclusively on the actual installation of the PCM software.

There are three strategies that are generally employed to accomplish this. The first strategy is obviously to visit each desktop with a DVD or Thumb drive and load the software! For the installer this is very labor intensive and requires that the install have administrative desktop privileges or maybe even domain privileges. The second option, is to push the software out to the desktops through and email link set from the ShoreTel Director portal to each ShoreTel user. This is a bit less labor intensive, but it still requires the desktop users to have administrative installation rights to their own desktop computers. Most large IT environments do not grant this privilege to plain vanilla users!

The third option, however, has the most promise as being both labor economical while maintaining network security. We can create and Active Directory Group Policy to push the PCM out to the user and have it installed without user involvement. To do this you will need to create a few objects, modify the organization unit containing the computers and users that will be effected by the new group policy. (Refer to Microsoft Knowledge base article 816102). First you create a Distribution point; the create a Group Policy Object, assign a package and then publish your installation package. This strategy is the preferred implementation practice for deployments of any scale and installation technicians should become familiar with the basics of implementing this solution. We will publish a video on both the blog and the DrVoIP site that will demonstrate this solution.

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