A locally owned farm cooperative that markets and distributes farm products, equipment, and supplies like grain, propane, and animal feed
22 locations across Northwest Ohio
An effective endpoint management solution to support a rapidly growing organization and remote work opportunities
Growth and opportunity
A longstanding agronomy business, Mercer Landmark has seen exponential growth in recent years. This is largely a result of increasing agricultural productivity nationwide, made possible with the advent of new technologies, innovative solutions, and process improvements across the industry. Today, Mercer Landmark has more than 280 employees spread across 22 locations throughout Northwest Ohio. With the rapid growth of its business, efficiency and productivity became key priorities for the farming operations company, as they strove to improve their operations to better serve their customers. For example, a recently launched Logistics Division added a new fleet of tractors and drivers to meet rising demand for farming supplies, thus providing a more efficient and streamlined experience for customers ahead of the harvest season. As they continued to innovate and expand their offerings, the needs of the business changed dramatically, and Mercer Landmark’s small IT team knew that they needed a more efficient and effective way to manage the growing number of endpoints within the organization. This was essential to ensure that critical functions such as monitoring crop and livestock and managing a wide array of business and operational activities could be performed effectively.
The challenges of managing a growing organization
Like 33% of all new SmartDeploy customers, Mercer Landmark did not have a reliable or effective endpoint management solution in place prior to using SmartDeploy. At one point, they were building the deployment and endpoint management process from scratch but quickly realized that this was not a sustainable approach. There were other, older software solutions but these were either no longer supported or did not fully address the scenario that the team was facing – having an increasing number of new endpoints without the resources to manage them efficiently.
As an added complexity, only 60% of its endpoints were desktops that were located on premise. The other 40% were laptops used in remote locations by employees who were working in multiple locations, remotely or out in the field. Their inventory also included a range of different makes and models that had been in use since before transitioning to standardized hardware models two years ago. Over time, failure to manage endpoint devices adequately not only compounds the maintenance problem, but it can also lead to serious security vulnerabilities.
“Given our small team and limited resources, the enormity and time-consuming nature of the task made deployment and endpoint management incredibly challenging. With 200 endpoints and counting, we knew we needed to look for tools that could facilitate that process.”
— Adam Farmer, Chief Technology Officer
A modern endpoint management solution that does the job and more
“In the beginning, I was setting up and managing our endpoints manually. It didn’t take me long to realize I needed a different approach. And as we continued to grow, it also got to a point where we really needed an effective solution to the problem,” said Adam Farmer, Mercer Landmark’s Chief Technology Officer.
While looking around, he discovered SmartDeploy through a YouTube video on Linus Tech Tips, a popular online media channel that features the latest technology news, guides, and reviews. After a quick trial of the product at no cost, Farmer knew that he had found the solution he had been looking for and converted to a full subscription without hesitation. As a bonus, there was no disruption or additional implementation time as the team was able to retain the work done during the trial period.
With SmartDeploy, Mercer Landmark could now carry out zero-touch OS and software deployments easily. Guided by a simple wizard-driven interface, users can be completely new to imaging yet still learn and set up SmartDeploy in a matter of hours. Using the SmartDeploy console, Farmer only needed to create and maintain one golden image, pairing it with model-specific driver packages called Platform Packs, and the application packs he needed for specific endpoints. It was a streamlined, automated process that saved a tremendous amount of time and resources. Instead of having to contend with the arduous task of driver management, the team could simply leverage SmartDeploy’s library of Platform Packs which enables support for more than a thousand business-class hardware models, all maintained by SmartDeploy’s team of driver experts.
Greater flexibility when deploying applications
SmartDeploy’s layered deployment process has also provided a new level of flexibility when it comes to deploying specific applications to different endpoints across the organization. Unlike conventional imaging and deployment software, SmartDeploy allows the flexibility for applications to be deployed and managed as part of, or independent from, the OS layer.
To date, Farmer and his team have successfully deployed over 150 applications via SmartDeploy’s Application Packs and have yet to encounter any issues. They have also deployed both security-related scripting as well as a remote access tool for those utilizing SmartDeploy. Under Mercer Landmark’s IT security policies, the team controls Windows updates and software patches, pushing them out to endpoint devices using network deployments after they have been properly tested.
Setting up for future success
Since coming on board in the summer of 2019, the Mercer Landmark team now relies fully on SmartDeploy for efficient day-to-day endpoint management as well as OS and software deployment during new hardware rollouts or when carrying out Windows migration. The process was seamless, reliable, and efficient, resulting in significant benefits in terms of time and resource savings.
As the shift to remote work continues, Farmer and his team will continue to lean on and develop capabilities and solutions that support the changing work environment. The movement to a hybrid work environment will greatly affect their overall operations but Adam is confident that SmartDeploy can support their organization through this change.
SmartDeploy is designed to enable cloud network deployment, where OS and software can be easily deployed to out-of-office staff even if they are not connected to the corporate network. Via the SmartDeploy agent, IT teams can quickly and fully integrate SmartDeploy with their Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or OneDrive for Business account to securely deploy Windows images, applications, and drivers and run tasks remotely. VPN connectivity is not required.
Moving forward, Mercer Landmark will continue to utilize SmartDeploy as they navigate a rapidly changing business environment, which will include intricate software updates and the ongoing push for the flexibility to work from home. As the tool of choice for many companies like Mercer Landmark, SmartDeploy is constantly working to include and improve the features and functionalities that customers require, through regular updates and releases. “I really like the direction SmartDeploy is going with its product development. There’s a genuine desire to help businesses succeed and I see this in the way the solution is continually developed to reflect what customers really need,” says Farmer.
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