Details“R”Us - Tech Learning

Details“R”Us

By Ellen Ullman With all the things your IT department does, keeping track of your district’s computers, along with their OSs and software, shouldn’t be an added burden. Thanks to asset management software, it isn’t. This product takes the onus
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By Ellen Ullman

With all the things your IT department does, keeping track of your district’s computers, along with their OSs and software, shouldn’t be an added burden. Thanks to asset-management software, it isn’t. This product takes the onus off your IT department and offers an efficient, effective, and easy way to get a handle on all your equipment.

GLENDALE– RIVER HILLS SCHOOL DISTRICT
Glendale, WI

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WHAT DO YOU USE?
JAMF CASPER SUITE, WWW.JAMFSOFTWARE.COM

WHY DID YOU BUY THIS PRODUCT?
When technology coordinator Jeff Johnson came to the district three years ago, he needed tools to manage the infrastructure more efficiently and effectively. “I had worked in other districts for 10 or 12 years, but here I’m a one-person department.” He heard that Casper Suite would let him automate software installation, and though it was costly, he thought it would help him be successful.

LIKES/ DISLIKES
It is a little expensive, but he’s worked it into the budget. He has no dislikes on the user side, saying it’s both well designed and well developed. “It works out of the box. There are three or four ways to do things, and you can customize the program, which is really helpful. There’s an active online community and an email newsletter with lots of information.”

EASE OF USE
JAMF has a three-day training that Johnson recommends. “They don’t make you get the training, but it’s a good idea. It takes a bit of time to understand the functions. It’s a complicated system, but JAMF wants you to be successful right away. The average person won’t just get it.”

WHAT DO YOU TRACK WITH IT?
“I can track our computers, in real time, to find the last time a specific computer was online and the software installed on the computers. If the board wants a report, I can access the information quickly.”

WHAT IS THE COST-BENEFIT OR ROI?
Johnson estimates that there’s a savings of $60,000 every year. “Since I’m a one-person IT department, this allows me to not have to hire another person on my staff, and a medium-level person would cost about $60,000 a year and this is a fraction of that cost. Plus I get the efficiency of being able to generate information on the fly. I do inventory searches every day.”

REFUGIO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT
Refugio, TX

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WHAT DO YOU USE?
CROSSTEC EMS, WWW.CROSSTECSOFTWARE.COM

WHY DID YOU BUY THIS PRODUCT?
“We were looking for something to help us track our users and monitor where they were going online,” says Matt Jones, district technology director and network administrator. “Even though it does asset management, we didn’t buy it for that purpose.”

LIKES/ DISLIKES
“I like being able to track all the users and that I can pull up a seven- or 30-day snapshot to see all the Web sites visited and ranked in order. If an administrator needs to know which sites were visited, I can do that easily.” He doesn’t like some of the interface options, but that is just a small concern.

EASE OF USE
It’s easy to use, especially because Jones was familiar with Remote Control.

WHAT DO YOU TRACK WITH IT?
Jones tracks users and online destinations. Next year he’ll buy new computers with Windows 7, so he’ll start using the product to track OS upgrades and more traditional asset-management concerns.

WHAT IS THE COST-BENEFIT OR ROI?
This isn’t applicable yet, but Jones is confident that once he takes over inventory management from the library, he’ll see a return on his investment.

JOHNSTON COUNTY SCHOOLS
Smithfield, NC

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WHAT DO YOU USE?
FOLLETT SOFTWARE’S ASSET MANAGER, WWW.FOLLETTSOFTWARE.COM

WHY DID YOU BUY THIS PRODUCT?
Diana Freeman, executive director of instructional technology and library media services, noticed that library records were beginning to list equipment in addition to reference materials and that this was throwing her reports off. She had been using Access but wanted to combine records for all 30 schools. Since there was no standardized solution, she searched for a new one to fit her district’s needs.

LIKES/ DISLIKES
Johnston County had used Follett’s Library Manager for three years, so learning Asset Manager was easy. The media coordinators and tech facilitators knew how to enter data and had trained the central service team, who in turn had trained feeder schools. “Everyone is in charge of his or her data. That’s powerful,” Freeman says. The only negative—and it’s a necessary evil, she adds—is that it took a lot of training in the beginning.

EASE OF USE
“It’s a piece of cake to use, but as we lose media coordinators or add new schools, we have to keep people trained.”

WHAT DO YOU TRACK WITH IT?
When an item is entered, the replacement time is also entered, and this helps track service needs. “We don’t have to ask schools to tell us where their PCs are, and we can make all decisions that affect them.” The software also tracks licensing and copyright information, specialized software details, PC memory, processor speed, and financial information.

WHAT IS THE COST-BENEFIT OR ROI?
The district bought 100 laptops for a group of roving teachers. Before Asset Manager, 10 or more laptops would have been “lost.” Now, Freeman says, none are ever lost. “That goes for remote controls and smaller items as well. It’s a whole new level of accountability.”

SHARON PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Sharon,

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WHAT DO YOU USE?
SCHOOLDUDE’S ITAMDIRECT, WWW.SCHOOLDUDE.COM

WHY DID YOU BUY THIS PRODUCT?
The district has about 1,350 PCs to keep track of, says technology director Leo Brehm. “I sign out about 100 for individual use. It’s particularly important to track of when things are aging, when hardware needs to be upgraded, and so on.” He also likes being able to audit software usage. “If a license is specific and I have a limited number of seats, I can redirect that resource.”

LIKES/ DISLIKES
“I like that it’s software as a service; I don’t have to maintain hardware or servers to support it. It’s not dependent on another system.” He wishes the project template could be expanded and is working with the company to accomplish this. “I’d also like an iPad client, which I’m sure will come.”

EASE OF USE
It is Web based and very easy to use, Brehm says.

WHAT DO YOU TRACK WITH IT?
“I can track warranty, location, and ownership. It helps me plan for replacement and see who is using devices in classes and in public areas. It tells me about hardware type, which slots the memory is in, and if a stick of RAM goes missing. It allows me to track the amount of service done on machines.”

WHAT IS THE COST-BENEFIT OR ROI?
“The return comes at the back end. I have more efficient utilization of the hardware, I’m able to know what my resources are, and I can reallocate when needed.” Previously, Brehm could not analyze anything. Now he receives accurate and accessible information that allows him to get longevity out of the machines. “The little I spend to track our two million dollars’ worth of hardware is a drop in the bucket and worth every penny.”

ACADEMY SCHOOL DISTRICT 20
Colorado Springs, CO

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WHAT DO YOU USE?
Dell KACE 1000 Management Appliance (formerly known as the KACE KBOX appliance), www.kace.com

WHY DID YOU BUY THIS PRODUCT?
“We were looking to do two things: gather software inventory and push software out so our building technicians didn’t have to sneakernet anymore,” says Shelley Kooser, chief information officer. Formerly, she had to ask each building administrator to do inventory by hand, and accounting for the district’s approximately 6,500 machines was frustrating and time-consuming.

LIKES/ DISLIKES
At first there was a problem with Macintosh integration, but that has been fixed. The only other, minor difficulty is that if a machine isn’t checked in for 90 days, it drops off “and we lose visibility,” Kooser says. Her biggest likes are that she can run reports quickly to gain insight into her machines. “The product allows the building techs to tie help desk into it, and we can see if a piece of hardware is problematic. Trending is a big thing for our help desk and software and hardware. That plays a big part in our inventory audit process.”

EASE OF USE
It is easy to use, Kooser says, but as with anything deployed for the first time, it was challenging at first to manually install a client on every machine. Now there is a replenish cycle and deployment server, so it’s part of the imaging.

WHAT DO YOU TRACK WITH IT?
Software applications on the district’s current inventory of 9,500 machines (up from 6,500), OS version numbers, and help-desk information.

WHAT IS THE COST-BENEFIT OR ROI?
The IT department saves more than 15,238 hours annually and achieved ROI in less than one year. Using the Management Appliance reduced the time spent on inventory and audit by 75 percent and saved $65,000 in help-desk costs.

Other Asset Management Software

¦ ABSOLUTE SOFTWARE’S COMPUTRACE
www.absolute.com

¦ ALTIRIS ASSET MANAGEMENT SUITE FROM SYMANTEC
www.symantec.com

¦ NETSUPPORT DNA
www.netsupport-inc.com

¦ SASSAFRAS SOFTWARE, INC.’S K2 (KEYAUDITOR & KEYSERVER)
www.sassafras.com

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