Getting Out of the Repair Business

David Jensen, technology manager for The Bush School in Seattle, was faced with the never-ending problem of keeping a disparate collection of PCs up and running.ulf Coast District Gets Disaster-Ready


...Relief from too much computer maintenance protection and integrity
Our school had become a breeding ground for donated and“retired” computers. Keeping them patched and runningconsumed too much of our time and money. Maintaining acornucopia of spare parts was not the best use of ourstorage space, either. With a total IT staff of only one fulltimerand one half-timer to support 680 students, faculty,and staff using 240-plus computers spread over a nineacrecampus, standardization went from a wish to a need.
...Affordable computers that could remain viable
Too many times, we’ve had to deal with the legacy of IT purchasesthat were made to solve an immediate problem, butthe question, “Will this still be viable four years from now?”was never asked. More often than not, buying the cheapestsolution is not the most cost-effective; 64-bit processorsare out there now, but are they the right solution?
...168 hard drives without installation woes
Hard drives are the bottleneck when it comes to performancein today’s gigahertz world. To maximize the performanceof our new computers, we decided that they wouldbe configured with two hard drives, one for the operatingsystem and one for applications. If the job of installing168 hard drives were left to our 1.5-person staff,we’d still be at it.
...Tools for quick deployments and updates
It’s impractical for a small IT staff to do handcraftedsetups of individual computers and have to visit eachmachine to update basic components like the BIOS ordrivers. Spending only 10 minutes at each one, we wouldneed 40 hours just to update the BIOS on our entire fleet.


CDW-G, Hewlett-Packard, IBM/Lenovo
Rather than replacing computers as needed, or replacing25 percent of them each year, we replaced all of them atonce through CDW-G. Buying in bulk gaveus four times the purchasing power with our vendors—that meant bigger discounts. Now every desktop computeron campus is a Hewlett-Packard dx5150,and every laptop is an IBM/Lenovo R52.This has dramatically reduced support incidences, and wehave been able to donate busloads of our retired computersand parts to InterConnection.
No one can argue that 64-bit computing is ready for everyonein today’s desktop world. That won’t be the case fouryears from now, either. But as more and more applicationsare written to take advantage of it, its performance andsecurity advantages will be evident. HP’s 64-bit desktopdx5150 allows us to run in 32-bit mode today and move to64-bit tomorrow, so four years from now, people won’t bescreaming, "These computers are so slow!"
It would have been impractical for us to install all thosehard drives ourselves, and it would have taken too muchtime and money to arrange to have someone come in anddo it for us. At no extra cost, CDW-G installed the harddrives for us so they arrived ready to go.
Microsoft, HP
Microsoft’s remote installation services,built into Windows Server 2003, let us deploy a labfulof computers within an hour, going from bare metal to fullyfunctional PCs with updated BIOS and firmware. Anotherbenefit of new hardware is the support tools from the manufacturers.HP’s System Software Manager allows us toupdate the BIOS and drivers from one central location.

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This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2006 issue of THE Journal.