What PolicyPak basically does is to manage almost all the configurations in Windows programs, through GPOs. This is great news for IT administrators, because it allows to configure all the Windows environments under Active Directory (AD) from a single point, keeping good practices and stable environments.
How does it work? Configurations are stored in "Paks". These Paks are configurations packages than can be customized. PolicyPak includes reconfigured Paks for many popular desktop applications, such as Mozilla Firefox, WinZip and so on.
In this article, I'll be focused on the most interesting characteristics of PolicyPak. The installation is not a big deal, and there are other features worth to mention. Anyway, I'll list the requirements for the program, and the basic structure to install it.
1 Administration Computer (XP, 7, 8) in an AD domain: You'll control PolicyPak from here.
- GPMC must be installed. Get it here for Windows XP (we'll use this OS at the end of the article) or here for Windows 7/8.
- PolicyPak Admin Console.
- PolicyPak Creation Studio (Optional. It is used to edit our own customized Paks)
- The "pp-WinZip.dll" file in the C:\Program Files\PolicyPak\Extensions folder. You can find the dll file in the installation package, in the following path: PreConfigured PolicyPaks - Production(556 or 557).zip\PreConfigured PolicyPaks - Production\WinZip (14 and Later).
- PolicyPak CSE.
- WinZip installed. Get an offline installer here.
- Administration computer: Windows 8. To use GPMC, I had to install Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8. And make sure that the user assigned to this computer is in the "Domain Admins" group in the Domain Controller.
- Client computer: Windows 7 with WinZip installed.
- Domain Controller: Windows 2008 R2.
- Domain: test.com
Now let's see some cool features of this useful program:
Simple app management
First a simple example. Create a GPO for testing:
1. In the Domain Controller, create an OU and include the client machine on it. Also, include the user that will be using that computer in that OU. You'll get something like this:
I created an OU called testools, and included the client machine and a user in it.
2. In the Administration Computer, open GPMC and create a new GPO on the OU you just created. In my case, I created a GPO called "Pak" on the "testools" OU:
3. Let's try some basic features of PolicyPak. We are going to configure the columns of the main screen of WinZip. To do this:
3.1 Right click on "Pak">Edit
Here are a couple of amazing features I wanted to write about:
This is interesting. If you are following my actions, you may have noticed that even if you change a setting, the user can still change that setting and use the application that way until it is closed and opened again. This weakens control over apps. Nevertheless, PolicyPak includes ACL Lockdown. This feature consists in literally locking the settings you want to lock, even if the user changes it in a session. Here's an example:
1. The user opens WinZip. It will be configured according to what was set with PolicyPak. In this case, I'm setting the minimum password length to 15.
Item Level Targeting
This feature may sound familiar to those who work with GPOs a lot. It basically consists in filtering the different Paks that you have with almost any criteria you may want to use. In my example, I'll use two client computers, one with Windows 7 and other with Windows XP (with WinZip, of course). I'll use just come methods to apply the Paks, but that's enough to let you know the great possibilities of PolicyPak.
First, we'll have both computer inside the same OU, in order to apply the Paks properly:
Here you can find an enormous collection of ways to filter the application of Paks. I'm going to pick IP Address Range, just because it was the first thing I saw. To do that, click on New Item.
As a conclusion, It could be said that PolicyPak equals Control. This is one of the most useful and powerful tools I ever used, and it works right how we want. I recommend it.
For more information, visit: http://www.policypak.com/