For Seattle University in Washington, asset management comes down to dollars and cents.
Dennis Gendron, executive director and chief technology officer, says by using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, the university saves several thousand dollars annually.
The university saves $2,500 annually by moving away from its legacy imaging technology and another $33,000 by using the security features in SCCM. Gendron relies on SCCM for inventory control, asset and patch management, endpoint protection and computer imaging, he says
“We no longer need to run specialized security equipment, so overall, we’ve been able to reduce our desktop team by one position and reassign it to our understaffed server team,” he adds. “Another benefit is that it used to take us a week to image 20 or 30 desktops. Now we can do that in a day, and it’s all done remotely. Our software is now in much better compliance with SANS Institute security standards as well.”
Seattle University started using SCCM in production mode during the start of the fall semester. Gendron says SCCM came as part of the university’s campuswide licensing agreement for its 2,000 notebooks and desktops. Additionally, Seattle University signed on with Microsoft Premier, which offers 180 hours of premium support.
“Our staff now gets plenty of training time on SCCM,” he says. “Microsoft is also available to us to do Level 2 and higher troubleshooting.”
Amy Konary, a research vice president at IDC, says that colleges also use asset management tools so they can be more proactive.
“Organizations should not be looking to just avoid or better prepare for an audit, but also to obtain information on usage and license status that can be used to support future software purchases and negotiations,” Konary says.
Understanding San Jose’s Big Fix
San Jose State University in California has used IBM’s BigFix as its software management tool for the past two years.
CIO Terry Vahey says they selected IBM’s tool because of its ability to work across multiple platforms (30-plus systems) and manage software across multiple domains. Its no-cost third party application patch management and competitive pricing were also big draws.
“The Microsoft volume discount is appealing if the organization is only concerned about Microsoft patches, but to consistently patch third-party applications, it requires that we subscribe to additional services. It’s also not as easily applied cross-platform as some of the competition.”
Vahey adds that more effective software management keeps university systems secure. She says it lets them keep hundreds of applications on the latest versions for thousands of computers with minimal effort. It also allows for consistency.
“Everyone is on the same version, we can ensure all our default software is deployed with no effort, and the tool gives us excellent software inventory,” Vahey explains.
As for cost savings, Vahey says where they used to have two people assigned for several days per month to patch management, they now can accomplish the same task with one person in just a few hours per month.
Streamlining Software Management
Matt Walters, service owner for software asset management at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, says there are any number of asset management software products in use at the university, which spans some 30 schools, colleges and departments.
“We know of some people using SCCM and some homegrown systems as well,” he says. “In some cases, people are tracking software with spreadsheets, something we’d really like to change.”
Walters says he’s recently met with many of the IT staffs at the various departments and colleges to better understand their needs and work toward deploying a universitywide asset management solution. He says the university hopes to be in the design/build stage by the summer of 2016.