Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Autodesk: Summed Up in a Sentence

So, I figured it was time to do a check-up with our friends at Autodesk regarding our never-ending hair-pulling with packaging their products for mass deployment.  We’ve been doing it our own way for several years (building the admin deployment image, then calling the individual pieces with msiexec and transforms, etc. and installing patches, etc.).  So I submitted a support request asking what the supported method is for performing an “unattended / silent uninstall of AutoCAD 2010 or Inventor 2010”.  We actually bundle more than that into each deployment payload, but I just wanted those two since they’re the primary culprits.

The response?   “We support uninstalls using Add / Remove Programs.  We do not support unattended installs.  Below is a link to a discussion thread that may help…”

So there it is.  Autodesk does not support unattended uninstalls.  This means when you have to remove it from 10,000 computers, they expect you to walk around to, or remote into, each computer and uninstall them one by one.  Given that NO enterprise environments will ever entertain such an insane idea, this indirectly means Autodesk does not support enterprise environments.

In case you’re wondering: NO. running the msiexec /x with the GUID’s in the registy does not perform a clean or complete uninstall.  The language packs, add-ons, hotfixes, and the extras that the SETUP.EXE module performs are all difficult to reproduce with a single package that produces identical results on 10,000 computers.  We’ve done a really good job ourselves, but it sure would help to get some buy-in from Autodesk.  Especially for the incredible amount of money we pay for “support” services.

Maybe it’s just me, but this just seems amazing.  I hate to think what the other competing vendors will say when they hear this.

Now, to be fair, Autodesk responded to my previous blog post about lack of support and have sent us a survey and invite to a customer council initiative.  We’re still waiting for the first real meeting to see where this is going, but we did have a few preliminary interview sessions for them to gather some key points.  Those went very well, and the people they chose to put on the case are very capable and friendly.

But, while we wait for the fruit of that effort to grow into something recognizable, this interim issue pops up like a mole in the midst of a perfectly manicured golf course.  Oh boy.

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