The perfect computer imaging solution for higher education

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WallaWalla 01
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Higher education

Organization profile

A Christian institution of higher education founded in 1892

Organization size

1,100 endpoints
1,000+ students & faculty members
5 campus locations

Business needs

An efficient way to reimage student, staff, and faculty devices across distributed campuses

The challenge of managing distributed campuses

At Walla Walla University (WWU), thousands of students enroll in its academic programs each year, supported by hundreds of faculty and staff members. With multiple campuses in different states, the university’s IT team is kept busy making sure that endpoints are secure and run smoothly.

With more than a thousand user devices to manage, computer imaging is crucial to maintain a consistent, productive, and updated online environment. Without the right computer imaging software, the team could end up spending countless hours on time-consuming IT tasks — from regular lab refreshes to troubleshooting break-fix scenarios. This would leave them with less time to focus on more strategic business and organizational needs.

Searching for the right computer imaging software

Director of IT Client Relations at Walla Walla University, Brandon Aberle, knows this struggle all too well. His IT team of 11 technicians manages approximately 1,100 endpoints with about 50 hardware models across one local and four remote campuses.

Before Aberle and his team discovered SmartDeploy, computer imaging was a manual process that took a lot of time and effort. They spent weeks building images by hand before deploying them. Even then, there was still a high chance that there would be issues with the image during deployment. This resulted in a lot of tedious troubleshooting and significant frustration to end users. What the team really needed was a way to reimage computers more efficiently.

In the past, Aberle had tried several desktop management solutions such as Microsoft Configuration Manager (previously known as Systems Center Configuration Manager or SCCM) and Symantec Ghost. But these solutions were complex and challenging to use. And the process to reimage computers remained unreliable and labor intensive. As a result, the team continued to struggle with completing their reimaging projects.

SmartDeploy takes the guesswork out of computer imaging

Once Aberle found SmartDeploy, it was a huge turning point for the team’s imaging strategy. The team can now reimage computers from a virtually managed, single lightweight Windows golden image. And this golden image can be deployed to any endpoint across their multiple campuses.

It was much easier to manage device drivers as well. Instead of manually downloading and maintaining drivers one by one, Aberle could simply download from SmartDeploy’s library of 1,500+ prebuilt driver packages or Platform Packs. “This feature is in and of itself worth the money,” he said. Platform Packs eliminate the task of gathering the necessary model-specific drivers by including them, and the ability to update firmware, in the image automatically. Now when Brandon deploys an image, he’s confident it will perform well on the endpoint, reducing the tedious break-fix process included with previous solutions.

WWU’s IT department was also able to get SmartDeploy up and running in a matter of hours thanks to the product’s ease of setup and use. With an intuitive dashboard and wizard-driven workflows, SmartDeploy is designed to be a “fool-proof solution” that most techs of any level can master. This allows Brandon’s entire team to use the software easily, boosting overall department productivity as the workload can be more evenly distributed. As Aberle sums up, “SmartDeploy is worth every penny we’ve spent.”

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