Keeping Track

6/29/2012 By: Ellen Ullman

From knowing where every piece of equipment is located to the moment a software license expires, the benefits of asset management software are seemingly endless. Technology directors sing the praises of these products, and note the following benefits—a reduction in wasted time, effort, and money—at the top of their lists.

Here are some other asset management software packages:

Faronics System Profiler
www.faronics.com

IBM Maximo Asset Management
www.ibm.com

LANDesk Management Suite and LANDesk Patch Manager
www.landesk.com

NetSupport DNA
www.netsupportdna.com

SchoolDude ITAMDirect
www.schooldude.com

Symantec Altiris Asset Management Suite
www.symantec.com

Wilson Independent School District
Wilson, Texas

What do you use?

CrossTec EMS
www.crosstecsoftware.com

What do you use it for?

“With this product, I can have complete inventory of all the systems attached to it,” says Justin McKibben, IT director at Wilson ISD. “I can track serial numbers, owners, maintenance schedules, key codes, Windows updates, and software updates. I can also install programs onto some, many, or all of the computers in the district.”

What do you like or dislike about it?

“There is nothing I don’t like; I love it. It makes my job a million times simpler.” At the top of McKibben’s list of likes is software deployment. He says, “Let’s say I have 200 computers that all need Adobe Flash Player. Instead of spending a month or more going to each machine and installing it, I can put it on my main server, click, and it’s distributed to whichever machines need it. That takes anywhere from two seconds to 20 minutes. It’s the biggest advantage.”

How is the interface?

“It’s super easy and very straightforward. The buttons at the top of screen are similar to the Office 2010 interface. The options are straightforward and not overly technical. You can customize it to be more techie, but even districts without a full-time technology person could use it easily.”

Does it have a mobile console?

There’s no mobile console, but McKibben can use remote-login software on a smartphone to access it on the server.

Has it helped you save money or time?

“Yes,” says McKibben. “It monitors the energy output of any computers on the EMS network and the length of time they are on. It also reports back these findings in a chart. You can change power settings to take the power consumption down and save money.” McKibben says the product also helps him save money on maintenance. His staff no longer “changes the toner in a printer willy-nilly” because CrossTec EMS tells you when it’s time to replace it.

Lincoln Public Schools (LPS)
Lincoln, Nebraska


What do you use?

Absolute Manage
www.absolute.com

What do you use it for?

Kirk Langer, director of technology for LPS, has used Absolute Manage for five years to manage laptops and desktops, including tracking and imaging the devices and managing licenses. “It helps us know when it’s time to take a product out of service by doing data-warehouse work,” he says. “If we need a minimum amount of storage for something, it kicks back the answer. We use it to understand our assets.” Recently, as his district has begun deploying iPads, Langer has begun using Absolute Manage to manage them as well.

What do you like or dislike about it?

“It’s evolving to answer market and customer needs and will continue to be a good product,” says Langer. “I’d like to see Absolute lead the way with understanding that the new trend of ‘mobile device management’ isn’t right. Device management is device management, and PCs will be with us for some time. I’d like them to blend mobile product offerings into Absolute Manage so that existing customers can reap those benefits in a unified, cost-effective environment.”

How is the interface?

“It’s essential for the process of knowing our fleet of devices and to be able to glean information easily. It also helps to make decisions regarding efficiency.” Langer likes that the product is malleable enough to build custom fields so he can track things in specific ways.

Does it have a mobile console?

Although there is some mobile usage, Langer doesn’t use that functionality.

Has it helped you save money or time?

“We used to have three or four products do what Absolute Manage does in a single product. We expect to do even more as the remote control piece comes in. It allows us to skinny down our portfolio, decrease license fees, improve efficiencies, and save time. In May 2011, our district office burned down and everything was lost. Our insurance carrier wanted detailed records to show our loss, and the IT department did that more accurately than anyone else in the building. We had verifiable evidence, thanks to Absolute.”

Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School (MICDS)
St. Louis, Missouri


What do you use?

Dell KACE K2000
www.kace.com

What do you use it for?

“It helps us mange our help- and service-desk processes, do data analysis, create frequent-failure and process-improvement reports, and track assets,” says Tom Wyman, director of technology at MICDS. “On the PC side, we use it to push Windows and Office updates. Our 5th through 12th graders have computers, and we need to know they are patched and secure.”

What do you like or dislike about it?

“The biggest con is the pricing. It’s a commercial price, which is a tough swing for a lot of educational institutions. In terms of functionality, I have no issues. Like many others, we have iPads in the classrooms and I’d like to be able to track those more than just as assets. I’d like to know where they are, but Dell is already working on this.”

How is the interface?

“It’s easy to use. I’m in the system all day, every day. We can set up several different ticket queues, such as typical help-desk and day-to-day stuff, project management, and new requests. When someone wants a new piece of equipment or software, I can capture all of that and communicate about status.”

Does it have a mobile console?

“There’s a Web-based interface, so you can use it through anything with a browser. I can do everything from home, and there is a limited amount of imaging that can be done from home.”

Has it helped you save money or time?

“Having this in place has freed us to do other things. The value goes beyond the labor hours saved. Over a one-year period, we’ve saved in the high hundreds of hours. Just the ability to push software through the system can save me 150 hours a year.”

Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD)
Palm Springs, California


What do you use?

Destiny Asset Manager from Follett Software
www.follettsoftware.com

What do you use it for?

“We recognized the need to track the ever-expanding number of electronic items such as netbooks, iPads, and iPods that are loaned out to teachers and students for educational purposes,” says Bryan Denk, database systems analyst for PSUSD. “We’ve chosen to create asset records as generic object-descriptors—digital camera, for example, instead of Canon PowerShot SD940-IS Camera—with all detailed attributes entered in the copy record only. We feel that this will make summative school- and district-level reports easier to evaluate.”

What do you like or dislike about it?

“Follett gives great training and support. After just three days of training, we were able to go live,” says Rebecca Abeyta, director of purchasing for PSUSD. “It’s easy to use, and I don’t have any problems. Even when we had some questions about the reporting cycle, our Follett rep gave us training and all was fine.”

How is the interface?

Denk says his users have expressed mixed feelings about the interface. Those with a great deal of experience using Destiny’s Library Manager and Textbook Manager find the interface intuitive and easy to use. However, he gets frequent calls for assistance from intermittent Asset Manager users who are confused by the multi-layers of tabs, menuitems, sub-tabs, and icon-buttons.

Does it have a mobile console?

The product is Web based, so it can be used from any Internet-connected computer or device.

Has it helped you save money or time?

“This is our first year implementing it, and we have not yet had a debriefing session with the site users to assess their experience with the software,” says Denk. “However, users have expressed that they appreciate the ability to get a quick visual accounting of the status and location of items, as well as the ability to hold students and faculty accountable for borrowed items.”

Enterprise Elementary School District
Redding, CA


What do you use?

Kaseya
www.kaseya.com

What do you use it for?

“We primarily use it to manage computer assets,” says Eric Zane, technology director. “We have a little over 800 computers and eight different sites across the district. It’s a challenge to keep track of where the computers are and who’s using them.”

What do you like or dislike about it?

Zane likes the agent approach. “It gives me a complete view of what that computer has in terms of hardware and software.” He says the only challenge is figuring out how to use the product to manage other assets, such as VOIP telephones, network switches, and networked projectors. “That’s more of a training issue for us; we’re still in implementation mode,” he adds.

How is the interface?

“It’s good and well thought out, but it does require training. That’s not a factor of the tool—it’s more about the breadth and the depth of the Kaseya product.”

Does it have a mobile console?

Yes; the product is Web based so it’s accessible from any browser. Zane says he uses it from home and from school sites.

Has it helped you save money or time?

“Definitely! We needed to upgrade 180 of our interactive classroom units; with Kaseya we were able to automate the software installation and upgrade. In the past, that would take about 160 hours. It took us only 40. It will probably take us only 20 hours next time.

“Also, Kaseya has helped us to streamline teacher training. Since we can do software updates so rapily, our teacher trainers can train everyone on the same system. We used to start a rollout at one end of the district, but the trainers were training on different versions and causing a lot of frustration.”

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