Districts Seek to Automate Software Management

IT managers appreciate tools that streamline patching and updates.

People know a good deal when they see one.

That was the case for Volusia County (Fla.) Schools when it entered into a campuswide agreement with Microsoft several years ago.

Alex Kennedy, assistant director of infrastructure and technical services, says that upon signing the enterprise agreement for Microsoft Office 365, the software maker packaged System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) at no additional cost. That offer was too attractive to refuse.

Kennedy recognized immediately that SCCM was well suited for software management of the district’s 40,000 devices. By pushing out software, patches and updates in groups as opposed to individual devices, SSCM enables the district to save several hours of administration. “And because we get SCCM as part of the agreement, we no longer have to maintain and upgrade multiple servers for our Altiris system,” he explains.

8.8%

The percentage of organizations in the optimized stage of software license management, which links the asset management solution and information such as IT service and financial management, purchasing and capacity planning

SOURCE: IDC, “IDC MaturityScape Benchmark: Software License Optimization,” June 2015

Because SSCM integrates well with Microsoft Active Directory, the Volusia County Schools can specify roles and policies more easily. “For example, we can tell the system that all the people who work in the media center have access to certain types of graphics programs,” Kennedy says.

SSCM also provides power management by enabling the district to put computers in sleep mode from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. or have computers go to sleep after 90 minutes of inactivity. Amy Konary, a research vice president for IDC, says that agencies also use asset management software to be more proactive.

“Organizations should not be looking to just avoid an audit, but also to obtain information on usage and license status that can be used to support future software purchases and negotiations,” she says.

Steve Bratt, director, IT infrastructure and operations for Vancouver Public Schools in Washington, says the district has used Novell’s ZenWorks Configuration Management platform for operating system and software management for several years.

Vancouver Public Schools supports more than 15,000 Windows workstations and notebooks with about 20 staff, and Bratt says ZenWorks’ automation delivers many benefits.

“We have had automated software deployments for more than 10 years, so we don’t have any hard data on savings,” Bratt says. “However, I do know that without these tools it would take 20 to 30 additional staff to manage software installation tasks alone, and it would take longer to deploy new titles or updates, so the savings in real dollars and time are significant.”

rzoze19/Thinkstock
Nov 20 2015

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