Published on 25-Feb-2011
Validated on 19 Nov 2012
"We recently patched and updated 16,000 Microsoft Outlook clients overnight….This would have taken us at least a week previously." - —Richard D’Amours, Senior Network Analyst, Edmonton Public School Board
Edmonton Public School Board
The Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) operates a primary and secondary school system that educates 80,000 students at 228 facilities throughout the Edmonton, Alberta metropolitan area.
Reduce cost and improve quality of IT operations; reduce need for in-person service calls; implement a “Tech as a Utility” internal market business model.
With a comprehensive endpoint management solution, software upgrades and asset inventory now take a fraction of the time that they previously required, saving resources and making it easier for staff to use existing equipment and maintain compliance with licensing requirements.
Reduced patch management staffing requirements from 3 - 4 full-time employees to one person focusing on patches part-time; eliminated laptop theft tracking service at a cost of $130/laptop; enabled updates to be sent to, installed on, and validated on thousands of computers from a single laptop.
The Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) operates a primary and secondary school system that educates 80,000 students at 228 facilities throughout the Edmonton, Alberta metropolitan area. The IT infrastructure supports teachers and administrators in addition to student computers used in classrooms, computer labs and libraries.
Time-consuming processes impede educational process
Days or weeks of staff time were typically required to upgrade software applications and collect asset information from devices across the school system. This drain on valuable time and resources drove EPSB to search for a solution that would automate frequently required management services, including software distribution, asset inventory and security policy management.
Because the primary EPSB mission is education, not computing technology, the school board needed a solution that would not require administrative expertise or ongoing intervention. BigFix® technology, now IBM® Tivoli® Endpoint Manager, was already in place to distribute system security patches, and EPSB was excited about the opportunity to use the same infrastructure to provide the additional services.
Containing costs through automation
In recent years, the School Board has implemented a “Tech as a Utility” business model, where individual schools can contract with internal or external providers for computer management and maintenance services. While the School Board’s in-house Information Technology Services (ITS) organization has retained a majority “market share,” it understands that it has to compete for business against external service providers. Furthermore, the model calls for a single, all-in service charge to individual schools—and IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager, built on BigFix technology, helps the ITS to contain costs and deliver the highest possible quality services to individual schools contracting with them.
Specifically, the solution allows EPSB to automatically distribute software, collect asset inventory information, and update security policies using the same single-agent architecture that was already in place for patch distribution. The school system considered competing solutions, including one that did not require any initial software expenditure. However, competing solutions required up to 95 percent network bandwidth during the evaluation process while endpoint management software built on BigFix technology required less than one percent network bandwidth. When labor costs and hardware investment were taken into account, BigFix technology, now IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager, won easily against all the alternatives.
Dramatic time savings
Using IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager, EPSB has realized dramatic savings each time new software is distributed. For example, the board had originally estimated that 55 person days would be required to install QuickBooks throughout the district. Instead, the job was completed by one person in a couple of hours. In another instance, an EPSB staff member was able to update Adobe software in 15 minutes. Staff had estimated that previously this update would require a week of individual, manual, computer-by-computer upgrades.
IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager also enables EPSB to eliminate a tracking service—which cost $130 per laptop—in case of laptop theft while enhancing the organization’s ability to recover lost and stolen laptops. While the earlier solution never worked, according to Richard D’Amours, senior network analyst, endpoint management software built on BigFix technology helped retrieve a laptop that was considered stolen but turned out to have been misplaced and deployed from an unexpected site. IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager allows a stolen machine to be reported to the ISP it is using or to have the machine’s hard drive remotely wiped out to prevent data leakage.
Additionally, EPSB can track and more effectively use capital equipment—even devices that cannot run the software agent for technical reasons. IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager distributes the scanning activities across local agent-managed computers, allowing the system to locate and track even the printers, projectors and video conferencing equipment that do not have an operating system.
For example, the IT services staff can identify Wyse thin clients, network routers, and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) servers on the same console that they use to control Tivoli-managed computers. They can even monitor and manage the Board’s 15 PolyCom video conferencing systems. The PolyCom systems cost up to $9,000 each, so this level of real-time visibility automatically yields significant cost savings.
Automated software upgrades have helped the ITS department exceed customer expectations and enjoy unexpected benefits. During the QuickBooks upgrade, the solution found numerous installations where the school system was running more copies than were licensed. The district was able to proactively rectify the licensing issue, which enabled it to avoid incurring additional fees for being out of compliance.
Additionally, patch management capabilities have reduced the time required for patching from weeks to hours, improving first-pass success rates while cutting the need for in-person service calls. “We recently patched and updated 16,000 Microsoft Outlook clients overnight,” says Richard D’Amours. “Outlook can be a very tricky thing to deal with, and this would have taken us at least a week previously.”
An extensible endpoint management platform
School systems are always looking for ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency without losing critical focus on their major educational mission. Specifically, EPSB’s Tech as Utility model raises the bar on its IT service level agreements, and, with IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager, the district can exceed customer expectations while cutting costs and improving security. By using IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager to automate software distribution and asset inventory, EPSB is able to save weeks and months of staff time while making life easier for end users throughout the network.
The EPSB IT Services department originally used the solution for operating system security patching. With the extensible system management platform, adding software distribution and inventory tracking capabilities was a straightforward and cost-effective move that involved minimal effort and investment.
Additionally, the software’s custom policy-authoring capabilities offer differentiated value to the Board—allowing staff to automatically implement ad hoc configuration checks, security controls and other remediation techniques as new threats emerge.
Thanks to this unified endpoint management solution, EPSB can continue to solve IT challenges by adding new IT services to the existing portfolio. EPSB will look for additional capabilities that can lower costs and improve services, while preserving the critical resources that are needed to advance the Board’s primary educational mission.
For more information
To learn more about IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager, built on BigFix technology, please contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/tivoli/endpoint
You can get even more out of Tivoli software by participating in independently run Tivoli User Groups around the world. Learn about opportunities near you at: www.tivoli-ug.org
For more information on Edmonton Public Schools, visit: www.epsb.ca
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
Tivoli Endpoint Manager
© Copyright IBM Corporation 2011 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America February 2011 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, BigFix and Tivoli are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Microsoft is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. TIC14159-CAEN-00