Twenty-First Century IT Service

It seems counter intuitive to spend money in order to save money, but that’s what happened with LANDesk. The team estimates that the solution paid for itself within the first year, and it continues to save the Hutto school district money every year.

Do you remember the days of elementary school?

Recess, classmates, and teachers were a part of my elementary school experience, and let’s not forget the computer lab. I remember feeling quite safe on my computer, accessing my education applications.  Thinking back, there must have been a lot that went in to keeping my computer safe, secure and up-to-date.

Travis Brown and Keith Reynolds are IT administrators who actually make such an experience possible for the kids they serve at Hutto Independent School District.

In order to prepare students for a twenty-first century workplace, school districts must provide twenty-first century instruction—and that means technology. Yet in today’s tough economic times, finding the funds to provide the technology and also to manage it efficiently requires a careful balancing act. Faculty and staff are requesting more applications all the time. But while Hutto’s IT environment grows every year, the IT staff does not. Keeping the systems and applications up and running so they are available to teachers and students every day is a constant struggle. Over the years, as the District grew in size, IT struggled to maintain the environment because they had to perform every task manually.

Imaging PCs was an especially big problem for Travis and Keith.  They reimage each PC every summer, and they only have a three-week period in which to do that, but because it took an average of two and a half hours to image each one by hand, they never met that deadline. Travis and Keith always ran over into the start of the school year, which caused some disruption in the classrooms. They also had to deal with 10 different images, which complicated the process even more.

Taking inventory was another time-consuming process. Inventory affects many aspects of managing the districts environment.  Having real-time statistics is the first step to troubleshooting a PC, which is the team’s most common IT task. They also need accurate numbers for budgeting, justifying purchases, and more. Before, it used take weeks or months to perform a full inventory and even then, because of human error, they could never be sure the final count was correct. They ran the risk of purchasing too little or too much software, and they spent extra staff hours ensuring everything was correct.

Patching PCs by hand was another job that was impossible to keep up with. It was such a time-consuming and overwhelming task that Travis and Keith applied patches once a year when they reimaged the machines, and after that on an as-needed basis only. As a result, viruses were a constant struggle. They needed an automated solution that would address all of these big concerns, especially considering how fast the school district was growing.

Brown and his staff reviewed four of the leading automated systems management products on the market and chose LANDesk. They did a proof of concept on all of the leaders and LANDesk came out on top for its intuitive interface, flexibility, reliability, and overall cost. It seems counterintuitive to spend money in order to save money, but that’s what happened with LANDesk. The team estimates that the solution paid for itself within the first year, and it continues to save the school district money every year.

The solution significantly decreased imaging time. Because the entire process is now automated Travis and Keith average fewer than 10 minutes of hands-on imaging time per PC. That’s a nearly 95 percent reduction, which frees up IT staff to tackle more mission-critical issues. And now, each summer they meet their three-week imaging window with time to spare. And LANDesk allowed them to replace the 10 previous images with one platform-independent image, making the process even easier.

Accurate, real-time inventory numbers are just a click away. The IT team can generate a precise, up-to-the-minute inventory report in a matter of minutes. That has made troubleshooting significantly easier and faster. Now the team can manage hardware settings, identify which machines need replacing each year, track the software on each PC—you name it. LANDesk reduces the time they spend on mundane tasks by up to 70 percent or more. Travis and Keith would need at least four more technicians to do what they do today with LANDesk—and even then they would still have issues with human error—which is a cost avoidance of some $160,000 a year in salaries alone. The IT team now fixes 80 percent of user problems in 24 to 48 hours, versus taking up to several weeks before.”

Automated patching has nearly eliminated virus outbreaks. LANDesk has given the team a lot of peace of mind. They have not had a virus attack in years. Patching is now conducted on a periodic basis, allowing Travis and Keith to stay current and confident with their security level. Before it would take two or three days out of the team’s week to do what patching they did. Now it takes minutes to thoroughly and accurately apply all patches. Due to education funding problems on the state level, all Texas school districts were forced to downsize. Even though they lost two technicians on their already small staff, they maintained the same high level of support thanks to LANDesk. In addition, by implementing the solution’s power management features, Hutto School District saves thousands of dollars each month in electricity costs and extends the life of their PCs by shutting them down when not in use. Those savings really impressed the school board. LANDesk is indispensable at Hutto School District. The team says they literally could not manage without it.