One of the largest private universities in the U.S.
An alternative imaging solution to Symantec Ghost that’s more efficient, easier to use, and saves time
Keeping a large campus community up and running
For one of the largest private universities in the United States, size is both an asset and a challenge. Serving an enrollment base pushing 40,000 students and 16,000 employees, the institution’s Desktop Support Team staff is charged with the task of keeping thousands of systems up to date and running smoothly. This includes managing, regularly modifying, and deploying system images, which is often a complex and time-consuming process. With that — and the continued growth of the university in mind — the team’s leadership knew it needed to find a faster, easier way for its support technicians to maintain and deploy system image updates across the organization.
By switching from a Symantec-based solution to SmartDeploy Enterprise, the university has been able to streamline and accelerate its image modification and deployment processes — at a cost significantly lower than it would have been to upgrade its previous solution.
“We knew we needed a faster, easier way to manage system image deployment, but the solutions on the market that we looked at were very cost prohibitive,” says the university’s Desktop Support Lead. “SmartDeploy offered an affordable solution that was remarkably fast and easy to use. Ultimately, with SmartDeploy, we’ve been able to boost productivity — not our budget.”
Maintaining multiple images was a struggle
The university maintains eight system images in its library, and technicians make modifications to these once per month. To accomplish this with the organization’s previous solution from Symantec, technicians needed to perform a tedious multistep process which involved booting into a ghost machine, making changes to the image, and then redeploying it. If technicians inadvertently made an error, they would have to restart the process from the beginning. And obtaining driver support for the system meant paying additional fees for the associated UI tool.
As the Desktop Support Lead says, “Updating images using Symantec was a nightmare. It was tedious and time consuming. If you made any errors, you would have to start over — wiping out all of the progress you had made up to that point. It was really getting frustrating.” The Desktop Support Team considered upgrading the existing system to help combat these challenges, but with a limited budget, the cost was simply out of reach for the IT department.
“We’re not just saving in terms of eliminating the extra infrastructure required for deployment, but also in the simple fact that SmartDeploy is the most affordable system out there.”
— Desktop Support Lead at Large Private University
Discovering streamlined, single-image management
After looking into several alternatives, the university decided to use SmartDeploy, the first hardware-independent imaging toolset that uses boot-time driver injection. Because it does not impose infrastructure requirements, includes powerful COM API scripting capabilities to manipulate nearly every point in the deployment process, and requires only a single image for each build, SmartDeploy dramatically reduces the time and cost to modify and deploy disk images across any platform.
With this system, the institution’s Desktop Support Team is able to deploy system images across the organization’s desktop computers faster and easier than ever before. “Now that we’re using SmartDeploy, we have more time to focus on proactive desktop management projects,” says the Desktop Support Lead.
True independence, flexibility, and powerful manipulation
SmartDeploy is hardware independent, providing true separation between software content and platform support. Users can create one master image and capture device drivers and other platform-specific software separately through Platform Packs. Rather than injecting these hardware-related components directly into master images, users can simply add device drivers and hardware support files to these Platform Packs at the time of deployment, thus eliminating the need to create large volumes of images or frequent updates across many images over the network or on physical media.
For the university, this translates into reduced storage, less IT worker time on updates, and the survivability of master images that can be used indefinitely — even when changes are made to hardware or software. “With SmartDeploy, we can add hardware updates after deployment, so we don’t need to spend hour after hour recreating images,” says the Desktop Support Lead. “Having a master image stay intact is invaluable — it definitely saves us the headache of having to restart the modification process from scratch.”
In addition, SmartDeploy includes powerful COM API scripting capabilities, giving IT staff the flexibility to integrate advanced manipulation of images. “We can manipulate nearly every point in the deployment process with SmartDeploy’s advanced API interfaces,” the Desktop Support Lead points out. “I haven’t seen anything comparable to this in any other system I’ve used.”
Faster, easier image deployment
With multiple desktop hardware models dispersed across the organization, the university’s IT staff found it challenging to manually create and manage images for each desktop. Through delta images, software changes can be released across systems to remote network endpoints while working with existing master images. Deltas can also be used to provide updates to branches outside of an office headquarters, regardless of bandwidth constraints or connection integrity. Overall, the university is finding that these features are accelerating distribution time and reducing the impact on the infrastructure.
“There are far fewer steps required to deploy system image updates,” indicates the Desktop Support Lead. “Using SmartDeploy’s delta images has made it so much easier to manage desktops across the organization. And we can complete deployment updates faster — about 95% faster actually.”
SmartDeploy is enterprise-ready, yet its ease of use — and infrastructure-free design — makes it optimal for mid-market organizations. The system doesn’t require server or network infrastructure to create, manage, or deploy images, and it uses simple wizards to help users automate common tasks and accelerate the overall image-capturing process.
“It’s remarkably easy to deploy images, thanks to the wizards included with SmartDeploy,” says the Desktop Support Lead. You don’t need to be an IT guru to capture and deploy system images. With Capture Wizard, you’re done in three steps, and the Deploy Wizard lets you keep an answer file for low or even zero-touch deployments in the future.”
Inexpensive, yet more effective
The Team Leader of Desktop Support reports that with SmartDeploy, the university has realized savings of more than $20,000 over the Symantec upgrade. And because it streamlines and simplifies Windows deployment from the data center to the desktop to the branch office, the institution’s technicians now have more time to focus on other projects.
“We’re not just saving in terms of eliminating the extra infrastructure required for deployment, but also in the simple fact that SmartDeploy is extremely affordable,” he says. “It’s fast, easy, and cost-effective — I’d say SmartDeploy is the smart solution for any organization,” he adds with a smile.
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