I'm employed by a medium-sized school district in Wisconsin. We currently have close to 2000 PCs and several hundred laptops. All of our PCs, laptops, servers and printers are HP and gain connectivity to the network via ProCurve switches. Our WAN consists of eight buildings scattered across two villages. We are fortunate enough to have these buildings connected with fiber. All the switches are managed with ProCurve Manager and the PCs with HP Client Manager and Altiris Deployment Server.
The Problem(s) We Face:
The window of opportunity that we have for updating our PCs, laptops and switches with the latest versions of software, service packs and code shrinks every year. We have the normal school year and several sessions of summer school during the summer months.
The programs offered in our computer labs tend to install all different kinds of applications, drivers for multimedia equipment and shareware on the PCs. When one particular program ends the next program finds that the software that's been installed on the PCs conflicts with the software they need to install.
The laptops we utilize in the district have somewhat similar issues. Staff members like to evaluate new applications and ideas on them while at home at night or over the weekend. After a while the laptops get all hosed up with all the different software evals installed on them.
Our solution? Altiris Deployment server. We did look at other options including Deep Freeze but Deployment Server worked out best for us with its versatility.
We were able to create one PC image that worked on all the different HP models we have. Utilizing Deployment Server we are able to schedule each lab to rebuild the PCs. Making the most of Deployment Server's versatility we are able to run pre and post scripts to capture any custom PC settings such as environment variables and ensure those variables stay with the PC during the rebuild process.
We have found that scheduling the lab to rebuild in sections seems to be quicker than hitting the lab all at once. It's not uncommon to rebuild all of our labs over the course of a weekend and the success rate is fantastic. When needed, we can rebuild labs overnight (during the week) knowing that things will be good to go the next morning.
Our laptop population is rebuilt as needed. We have a staff member connect the laptop to the network and rebuild it within 30 minutes. We decided to maintain several laptop images due to the way they are used but using Deployment Server's scripting features we can create one rebuild job that detects the laptop model and pushes the correct image to the laptop.
Our ProCurve switch code and PC BOIS updates are managed with tools such as ProCurve manager and Client Manager. Both due a great job of keeping our network up to date.
Return on Investment:
We have a small IT department like most school districts. To spend time traveling to each lab and rebuilding the PCs manually is not an option for us. Our staff members cannot afford to lose their laptops for a day or two either. If we need to update the code on a switch we can do so without visiting the IDF it's located in. The dollar amount we're saving is huge when you figure in contracted service hour rates. We are able to eliminate almost all of this cost.
Our staff members expect 24x7 network access and we are able to provide that utilizing Deployment Server and HP management tools.