Largest public university in the state of Utah
Faster, easier computer lab refreshes
The perfect solution for a unique project
As technology has evolved over the past decade, Utah Valley University’s (UVU) IT team has searched for turnkey solutions to make their daily tasks and large projects as efficient and effective as possible.
The team has just a few summer months to prepare 31 labs for the return of 40,000 students. Knowing that saving valuable technician time can have a major impact on the college’s overall IT budget, Director of Student Computing, Kim Leseberg, wasn’t going to settle for an imaging solution that was less than perfect for the unique environment — even if it meant a decade of testing the top Windows deployment solutions including Symantec Ghost, Altiris, Windows Deployment Services (WDS), Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, and SmartDeploy.
“Reimaging a lab of 56 computers took four to five hours with Configuration Manager. With SmartDeploy, it took about an hour.”
— Mitch Mechan, Systems Administrator, Utah Valley University
A decade long journey
With just four people on the desktop support team to maintain and manage the school’s computers, reliability is essential. The unique environment — consisting of 24 academic labs, six open labs, and a coveted e-sports lab — complicates matters, and Windows operating system version updates, new hardware, and changes to the way students use technology over the years just increase the complexity. Every summer, the team is responsible for refreshing more than 1,100 lab computers. This can be a daunting project if the software, as Leseberg explains, doesn’t “just work.” She knew that hours of troubleshooting could be saved with the right tool, and so the journey to a perfect imaging solution began.
In 2010, Leseberg’s team began using Symantec Ghost for the summer lab refresh projects and unplanned PC break-fix scenarios. However, managing dissimilar hardware with a hardware dependent solution, like Symantec Ghost, can be time consuming, as a separate image is needed for each computer model being deployed to. Two years later, UVU made the switch to Altiris. When Altiris didn’t meet their needs, they tried WDS and then Configuration Manager. With Configuration Manager, multicasting and imaging took hours, and corrupt applications caused many headaches.
While these other solutions may work in a simpler setup, Leseberg was determined to find something that met every requirement of UVU’s demanding environment. In 2017, they tested SmartDeploy. During the free trial, it worked seamlessly. Utah Valley University system administrator Mitch Mecham explains, “We got our trial, and by that afternoon we imaged five computers, and they were out in production the next day.” But was it too good to be true?
After making the switch, SmartDeploy continued to impress. Mitch states, “Reimaging a lab of 56 computers took four to five hours with Configuration Manager. With SmartDeploy, it took about an hour.” Although in the past they needed multiple images to deploy to dissimilar hardware, now they needed to maintain only a single image thanks to SmartDeploy’s library of more than 2,000 downloadable driver packs (Platform Packs). To date, UVU has downloaded more than 150 Platform Packs that they’d otherwise be responsible for finding and maintaining themselves with any other imaging solution.
SmartDeploy stays ahead of the pack
SmartDeploy continues to keep up with the constant evolution of the technology landscape and even stay in front of Windows 10 and its updates. Within the past six months, major features have been rolled out to continue to make the lives of Leseberg’s team and others simpler. Cloud Deployment, for example, lets users deploy over Wi-Fi, by using their existing cloud storage account, to remote users who aren’t connected to the network. It integrates with Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Microsoft OneDrive for Business.
SmartDeploy also offers application deployment so customers like UVU no longer need additional software like LanSchool or PDQ Deploy. Constant upgrades and additions to product features ensure that organizations and schools, like UVU, don’t outgrow the software. And as technology continues to evolve over the next decade, UVU will have a reliable solution that “just works,” regardless of the changes happening with Windows operating system versions or OEMs.
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