Software distribution and management of software configuration data in computer networks is a costly process for network administrators. There are several software products available carrying out centralized distribution of software packages but there are no generic solutions available supporting centralized distribution of product configuration data. Thus, every software product relying on centralized configuration management requires a proprietary solution.

Independent of the applications used for managing computers and users in the network software-distribution solutions commonly use their own applications and databases for managing the necessary information. This requires mechanisms for synchronizing the topical network configuration information with the database used by the software distribution solutions to avoid inconsistencies. On the other hand, most of the network management systems use directory services for storing the necessary information. These directory services are expandable and would be capable in storing the additional information required for software distribution.

This thesis includes the design and development of prototypes for a centralized software distribution and configuration solution, which mainly relies on the underlying network directory service. The design should be generic enough supporting different kinds of software products (especially for centralized software configuration) and that the underlying network directory is used for maintaining management-information. For this purpose the demands on central software distribution and software configuration are discussed and expandable network directory services are evaluated and compared each other.

The development of the prototypes was done using Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0, the network directory service used for the prototypes is the Windows 2000 Active Directory, which leverages the X.500 directory services standard. The prototypes, introduced in this paper, can be using other directory services as long as they rely on the X.500 directory services standard and provide LDAP support for communication.

Finally, possible extensions are discussed that would be necessary before the prototype can be brought into play for commercial use. The prototype implemented within the scope of this thesis consists of several loosely coupled modules showing the underlying technology.