Supporting Systems Management

Located in Richmond, Virginia, Commonwealth University (VCU) is a Carnegie Research University, a research doctoral institution in the state of Virginia. The medical campus at the university is the Virginia Commonwealth Health System—a comprehensive academic healthcenter.

The university’s extensive information technology (IT) network supports a range of operations, including human resources, finance and administration, records and registration, and business services, as well as faculty and students.

The Challange
Supporting the systems of two university campuses spread over 129 acres and encompassing 162 buildings takes work—and a lot of it. At VCU’s administrative customer support center, our Client Services team wears many hats: desktop technician, system administrator and Help Desk support. To manage their systems’ complex demands, we’ve come to rely on LANDesk Management Suite.

We support more than 1,000 desktops all across the sprawling campus, which before LANDesk was not fully centralized in desktop management. This meant that the staff often spent a good part of the day catching the shuttle from one onsite call to another. Adding to the challenge, our team sometimes arrive at a campus destination, only to find that the PC had “corrected itself,” or that the customer and PC were not available. A particular challenge in the academic environment is the limited window of time available to do PC lifecycle management, given the vacations, short days and nine-month school year.

Every area has such specialized system requirements, it’s very time consuming to have to install applications on some of the switched machines, and remove applications on others. As a result, each staff member was only able to work on about three PCs a day. Yet with everything so tightly networked any downtime, brings most of the university’s functions to its knees.

The Implementation
We were able to quickly show ROI, helping to reduce costs, increase IT efficiency and end-user productivity. We can better manage assets with fewer people. Other benefits including allowing teachers and administrators to focus on their day-to-day jobs and not hassle with computer issues. At least once a day someone says how much easier and more efficient things are since implementing LANDesk Management Suite.

Now the staff can schedule and distribute software applications and files automatically, take control of remote desktops to fix problems, maintain compliance with software licenses, capture the latest hardware and software inventory, and keep servers up and running.

VCU uses LANDesk to troubleshoot problems remotely, tally the inventory data and upgrade applications. It’s saved us much time because we can help people on the phone while doing something else like scanning a system for viruses. In the half-hour it would have taken a technician to walk to someone’s office, we’ve already completed 10 or more fixes over the phone.

Before implementing LANDesk Management Suite, Client Services was harried and stressed by deadlines. Because the implementation help to refine the process, customer support and technician job satisfaction have improved. Many extra hours were spent upgrading software, but with LANDesk Management Suite, many client applications are completed in minutes.

Better Budget Planning
Often times the IT and software inventories used to be out of date as soon as completed. But with LANDesk, the inventory is automatically updated daily. The cost savings of that feature alone have saved us thousands of dollars. We are able to manage our licenses better and compliance is no longer an issue. As for service, by remote controlling the desktops, VCU increased our ability to handle work orders exponentially. And LANDesk was the only product that handled our Mac clients as well as PC clients.

With VCU’s information technology infrastructure under control, we were able to apply a new level of business intelligence on the use of software licenses and scale of technology needs in the university’s many departments. We were better able to recommend purchases for the next budget year and determine asset management data required by senior management. We can also do ad hoc queries to better plan needed upgrades; we can tell who has what software before we do an upgrade, or whether it can even be done at all.

LANDesk Management Suite has reduced the downtime for our end-users—they are no longer waiting days for a resolution. We can have our new PCs in the field faster. Our users are much happier in general—and therefore so are we.

Well-managed computers for students and teachers has been integral in the success and high education standards of VCU.

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