James Thurber’s classic short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” first appeared in The New Yorker on March 18, 1939. It also inspired the 1947 and 2013 films of the same name starring Danny Kaye and Ben Stiller, respectively.
I first encountered Thurber’s most popular story in junior high and loved it because I identified with the protagonist’s propensity to escape the real world, if only momentarily, through fantasies. We all daydream of different lives, amazing adventures, and heroic actions. In fact, I’m a fan of the Dos Equis beer TV ads and the “Most Interesting Man in the World” because he “once parallel parked a train.”
A Mitty moment hit me while running one morning recently. I saw myself playing nine holes on a lovely, local public golf course in a Salt Lake City suburb. The temperature was in the mid-70s with a soft breeze blowing and the snow-capped Wasatch mountain range as a backdrop. I played out of my head. I eagled the first hole, birdied the next, shot par on No. 3 and then sunk a hole-in-one on No. 4. And so it went, achieving my all-time low score of 27 for nine holes and beating my golf buddies handily.
Contrast this fantasy with a real-life experience on that same course. I was about to tee off on a long, straight par-4 with a row of houses stretching down the right side of the fairway. Just then the golf marshal pulled up in his cart and prompted us to speed the pace of play. I immediately pushed my drive to the right, to which the marshal muttered, “That ball is headed straight for my house.” Fortunately, none of us heard any rooftop “thunk” or shattering glass. The rest of my round was nowhere near Mitty-esque.
Herculean Feats in IT
I’m no IT professional, but I genuinely admire those who are. To me, they’re gifted enough to parallel park a train if they had to. Dan Lutter of Advocate Health Care sure could. You can read about his real-life Walter Mitty moment here.
The short story is this. Under Lutter’s leadership, Advocate Health Care uses LANDESK® Management Suite to automate the provisioning of 1,000 PCs per week, saving $17 million annually in cost avoidance. Advocate is the largest health system in Illinois and one of the top five in the U.S. It’s one of Chicagoland’s largest employers with 35,000 associates—including 6,300 affiliated physicians and nearly 10,000 nurses.
There was a time when Advocate administered its network of PCs by hand, but that gobbled up a lot of technicians’ time, especially when it came to migrations. Today, Advocate’s IT environment is much more complex and it extends well beyond the 35,000 PCs and mobile devices spread among 12 hospitals. Lutter’s team also manages hundreds of client server and web-based applications across the enterprise.
“At one point, we had to migrate 19,000 PCs from Windows XP to Windows 7,” said Lutter. “But because of the variety of software our users need, while we maintain a common base operating system image, we do not maintain images with different application combinations. Those 19,000 machines have thousands of unique variations of software installed on them, so performing such a migration manually would be impossible. In addition, about 60 to 65 percent of those machines are kiosks: one device with many users. We clearly needed an automated management system. But we did not want a tool that would simply migrate a machine from one OS to another. That’s the easy part.”
A Solution for Today and Tomorrow
Lutter continued, “We wanted a total solution that would help us map our hundreds of unique application packages to the appropriate PCs, and then automatically install those packages after the migration, plus restore each user’s data and settings. That was a tall order, but we were looking towards the future. We wanted a solution that would save us time and money on the total installation process for all future migrations. A one-off migration tool wouldn’t help us.”
Advocate researched the top six automated management products on the market and quickly narrowed the field to three. “After doing a proof of concept, we chose LANDESK Management Suite because we wanted a tool that would help us plan for the future by automating the entire migration and provisioning process. We felt LANDESK had the best solution to achieve this, and that they had a clear idea of where they were going with their product. I consider LANDESK a strategic partner in the end user computer space. And I would tell any enterprise, if you don’t have a client management tool, I don’t know how you survive.”
Share Your Own Mitty Moment
Like Dan Lutter, LANDESK customers around the world are accomplishing amazing things with our solutions. Care to share your own short story? Contact Leslie Bonsteel firstname.lastname@example.org or Chase Christensen email@example.com to learn how.