64-bit ImageRight support? – The "drivers" are in control.

The disaster recovery testing is touching more areas then I even though possible related to what options we can consider in our production and emergency environments. It’s bringing to light how interconnected software has become, and how those connections can sneak up on you, even when one is dealing with them everyday.

A basic premise of our recovery plan is to provide access to our recovered systems remotely, until we can make office space and desktop systems accessible to everyone. In order to keep things “simple” and provide the quickest possible up time, the plan calls for using Windows Terminal Services (aka “Remote Desktop Services” in 2008 R2) technology.

Due to the improvements in the offerings available directly by Microsoft related to remote access and the relatively small number of applications we need to make available, we determined that bringing terminal services up initially would be faster than recreating our Citrix environment during an emergency.

In conjunction with this (and the fact that we have only a small amount of remote use in production) we are currently planning to reduce licensing costs by only providing access using Microsoft products. Windows Server 2008 (and now R2) has many of the features we were looking to Citrix for in the past. While it’s possible for us to meet most of our needs with Server 2008, we’d much prefer to use 2008 R2.

While I was at the Vertafore Conference, one of my goals was to find out their schedule for 64-bit support. As one of our main enterprise applications, its important that it’s available on our remote access solution. Since I was unable to run the software on my 64-bit Windows 7 computer, I wanted know how far they were from addressing that.

Turns out, it all comes down to third-party drivers for peripherals. ImageRight works with several popular hardware vendors when it comes to scanners, including Kodak, Canon and Fujitsu. This allows customers to take advantage of more of the built-in scanner features that come with the hardware, instead of writing a generic scanner driver that could reduce the functionality native to the device. They also use the drivers to provide desktop features that allow end users to import documents directly from their PC.

Because of this, 64-bit support for the ImageRight software is directly related to how quickly scanner vendors make 64-bit drivers available. ImageRight claims that the makers of these key peripheral devices are complaining that Microsoft didn’t give them enough warning between Windows Server 2008 and the release of Server 2008 R2 regarding the official “death” of the 32-bit version of the OS to provide 64-bit drivers for all their devices.

ImageRight is planning to have support for 64-bit operating systems by the end of this year. We aren’t planning on a widespread upgrading of desktop hardware to 64-bit any time soon and will be able to wait without too much suffering. However, it does alter our plans for our remote access changes in the next 3-6 months. A disappointment for sure.

Also, the delay doesn’t help existing ImageRight clients or upcoming new ones that hope to run (or at least begin to test) an important software product on the most current hardware and operating systems available. An interesting domino effect that ends in needing to reconsider what I’ll be using for remote access during my recovery testing this month.

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