When Microsoft SCCM just isn’t the right fit

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Menasha 01
Menasha logo

Education, K-12

Organization profile

Public joint school district in Menasha, Wisconsin

Organization size

7 schools
3,500 students
600 teachers and staff

Business needs

Faster, easier computer lab refreshes

Finding a reliable software solution

The Menasha Joint School District in Menasha, Wisconsin, consists of seven schools with 3,500 students and 600 teachers and staff.

Paul Reed, Systems Engineer, is one of four people in the district’s Technology Services Department. Like many school districts that have growing responsibilities for projects and equipment with a fixed headcount, Paul wears many hats: he manages networking, PCs, copiers, and even security cameras. With this breadth of responsibility and limited staff, Paul and the rest of the Technology Services team need software and equipment that they can rely on.

After months of troubleshooting and frustration, the conclusion was made that their existing tool, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, wasn’t meeting their standards.


“If I don’t lose the days in the summer trying to fix an issue with SCCM, and if the images are all deployed and ready to go when the students and teachers show up with SmartDeploy, that’s worth it.“

— Paul Reed, Systems Engineer, Menasha Joint School District

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Big project. Tight timeline.

The Technology Services Department does 80 percent of the annual computer imaging in the three months of summer due to required annual lab refreshes. If there are any issues, the time before students and staff return from the summer break doesn’t change. “If we’re not ready when they come back, it becomes a nightmare,” said Paul.

SCCM had a lot of great features that Paul and the rest of Technology Services team did not need and never used. When SCCM worked, it worked well. When it didn't work, it really didn't work. “I would spend days and days determining what caused an error and how to fix it,” Paul explained.

Getting technical support on SCCM was both challenging and quite expensive. Paul needed something simple and reliable that did imaging really well. And if he had an issue, he needed someone there to help him. That’s when he found SmartDeploy.

Despite SmartDeploy adding additional upfront and yearly costs compared to SCCM under Microsoft’s volume licensing for education, the amount of Paul’s time to stay current on SCCM and to troubleshoot when there were problems and the cost of technical support all outweighed the additional SmartDeploy cost.

Paul said, “When I bought SmartDeploy, I looked at the price, and I looked at what we’re paying for SCCM. But then I had to also include the value of my time, and that’s what the decision really came down to. If I don’t lose the days and days and days in the summer trying to fix an issue with SCCM and if the images are all deployed and ready to go when the students and teachers show up with SmartDeploy, that’s worth it.”

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SmartDeploy wins over SCCM

Beyond being a much easier solution to use, SmartDeploy’s Platform Packs have saved Paul a significant amount of time.

SCCM required Paul and his team to manually reconstruct driver packages whenever there was any driver update to any of the district’s PCs. The SmartDeploy team not only updates the Platform Packs when there is a driver change, but the SmartDeploy console automatically notifies Paul and his team that there is an updated Platform Pack that is ready for download and deployment to the district’s PCs.

While Paul has used SmartDeploy just for imaging, the next step will be to use SmartDeploy’s application deployment functionality. It offers the same simplicity, reliability, and ease of use for deploying applications as SmartDeploy does for deploying images.

SmartDeploy received an “A” from the Technology Services Department at the Menasha Joint School District because it simplified and streamlined the imaging process, enabled them to reliably finish their imaging projects in the limited summer months, and had a US-based support team that was easy to contact and more concerned about helping than getting a credit card number.

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