University of Central Lancashire
Keeping Macs up-to-date
Educational environments can present some unique challenges when it comes to client management—offering up a virtual Rubik’s cube of departments, computer usages, IT teams, and users.
For Criss Myers, Senior Business Support Analyst at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK, most of these challenges begin and end with keeping the 300 Macs situated across the university’s Windows-based network up-to-date.
Criss knew he had to start looking for an alternate solution after UCLan’s first deployment of Macs in 2007, which left every machine from loan-out laptops to those in the specialty labs with an identical image. Supplying each machine with the right software required either a cumbersome amount of client-side monitoring or the tedious task of configuring each machine manually. Neither solution promised to preserve a workable level of consistency for long, so Criss sought to “streamline management of the client” with the Casper Suite.
Easy remote maintenance
A high level of maintenance is essential when there are thousands of end users logging in from different machines at different times and trying to access different applications. Problematic software must be removed quickly, updates deployed in a timely manner, and new hardware scoped to the appropriate computers. But a streamlined approach to this kind of maintenance requires a certain amount of finesse, especially when different clusters of technicians are responsible for managing the machines in each department.
Criss’ team in the central IT department is responsible for tying it all together—creating the initial image, testing and approving additional software, and making that software available to the appropriate teams of technicians.
Recently, when there was a security issue with a piece of software, Criss was able to uninstall the application quickly using the policy feature. When a secure version was ready to be distributed, he simply created a policy to install it.
“So simple!” he exclaimed. “And doing that before would have been a headache!”
In addition, Criss was able to transfer a large part of the installation process to the departmental technicians. Each technician is now able to identify the software they need and install it themselves through the Self Service application. Distributing software through Self Service also provides restrictive capabilities, allowing Criss to make available only tested, pre-approved software.
Along with a streamlined approach to maintenance, Criss discovered a web of unexpected advantages.
“There’s so much in the Casper Suite that you can do,” Criss said, going on to identify the modular approach to imaging, support for Adobe CS installs, and ease of use. “One person can create packages, put them into Casper Admin, assign them to Self Service or create a policy to push them out... We’d have no problem increasing our number of Macs exponentially. One person could still manage them.”
Criss is constantly discovering new ways to use the Casper Suite.
“I keep finding new things over the years I use it. It’s actually more fun...and it’s always great checking out the new features.”Download PDF