Technology Brings Installation Efficiency to District Labs
When the Pendergast Elementary School District was formed in Ph'enix, AZ in 1912, there was no information technology department, let alone hundreds of personal computers to configure and manage. Today, there are six children to each one of the 1,250 computers in the school district.
In the summer of 2000, the school district purchased computers for student use and asked John D. Moreno to be the director of their Management Information Systems. One by one, Moreno and his team began manually installing software on each individual computer system to prepare them for the new school year. Moreno soon realized that a three-hour manual disk-image installation per computer, plus hour-long manual loading and configuration to install additional application software, was not the best solution. It was simply taking too long. And the new school year was fast approaching.
The answer to Moreno's efficiency need came in the form of a product from systems management company, Altiris, Inc., called eXpress LabExpert with RapiDeploy software. Moreno remembered that he had worked with Altiris products before, and he took this opportunity to become more familiar with them. Before long, he found Altiris eXpress LabExpert to be a good solution, because it was specifically designed for PC classrooms and labs. Moreno knew that LabExpert could significantly reduce the time required to configure and manage his hundreds of PCs.
"It was taking forever to install the workstations. But by using Altiris eXpress LabExpert, we were able to cut total configuration time for each machine from four hours to just 45 minutes, saving more than three hours per PC," Moreno notes. The reduction in configuration time saved about $60,000 in potential labor costs for the district. In addition, Moreno and his team were able to configure more than one computer system at a time because the Altiris automated loading process d'es not require technicians to watch the PC continuously.
"Before we started using the Altiris product, three of us were forced to sit there in front of each PC with a stack of floppies and CDs, while another would actually deploy the system to the schools. Now, with Altiris eXpress, one person handles our rollouts, allowing us to get things done quicker, easier and cheaper," Moreno says.
As the school year approached, Moreno and his team drew closer to their goal of finishing the computers in time for the students. Using Altiris eXpress LabExpert, one technician would set up a master console on a single Compaq Deskpro system in a computer lab and load all other Deskpro systems from the master console. By the first day of school, the computers were ready for the 7,800 students in the district.
Moreno says he was so impressed with Altiris eXpress LabExpert that he arranged for the Pendergast School District to begin using Altiris Vision in its computer labs and libraries as well. With this product, the school's instructors monitor all PCs in a classroom from a single system. They can also remotely demonstrate assignments from one system to many others, monitor activities, chat with students and log out or shut down individual PCs with Altiris Vision.
Moreno and his technology staff are able to control all the districts classrooms and labs from one location. "I will definitely not miss those long hours of manual installation and resetting," Moreno says.
This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2001 issue of THE Journal.