Automated deployment of master PCs saves time

Wednesday, 01 September, 2010

Located in the Geelong region of Victoria, Christian College is a K-12 school focused on quality education. It has a current enrolment of around 1800 students and 240 administration and teaching staff across five campus locations.

Christian College has always invested in the school’s IT system, aiming to provide students with high-quality classes and IT facilities. It recently bought 1000 new workstations as the old ones were getting more and more unreliable. The IT team was required to set up all the machines in a short time so the students and teaching staff would have new computers to use in the new semester.

Ashley Walters, Director of IT at Christian College, explained that it is a long and painful process to build up 1000 computers, install all the necessary software as required by the teaching staff and join each workstation to the domain. “For a team of five technicians including myself, the task was almost unmanageable in that timeframe. Plus daily maintenance jobs and other projects, we just couldn’t afford the time,” said Walters.

To solve the issue, Walters and his team looked at a few imaging solutions, such as Windows deployment services, Ghost and some Linux-based solutions. None of them were easy to set up, while Acronis Snap Deploy 3 impressed them immediately with its ease of use and affordability.

“The biggest challenge for us was the set-up. We were facing a strict deadline for the deployment. All we needed was a solution that was simple to install and could achieve PC deployment on the network quickly. Acronis Snap Deploy does exactly what we wanted, and it is very well priced.”

As a result, Christian College purchased 1000 Acronis Snap Deploy 3 Workstation and Acronis Universal Deploy licences, an add-on component that allows the school to deploy standard images to dissimilar hardware.

It only took Walters and his team three days to install the Acronis solution and deploy the master image to the 400 student desktop computers and another three days to image all the staff and student laptops on the network. “We were amazed at the simplicity of the installation process,” recalled Walters. “The graphical user interface is extremely easy to use. The staff training was completed in one hour, and none of my staff has returned with issues since the day we deployed the solution.”

With Acronis Snap Deploy 3, Christian College is able to create images of the standard configuration of the master PCs, including the operating system, settings and applications. Stored in a central location on the network, the images can be deployed to multiple workstations simultaneously, which dramatically cuts down the time required for a manual reinstall or initial set-up.

The pre-deployment feature gives Christian College the ability to easily configure system settings such as networking settings, domain/workgroup settings, computer name, user name, and apply them to the image before deployment. Walters’ team can also schedule to distribute the master image at a specific point in time in advance.

“Pre-deployment and scheduled deployment features increase the flexibility and productivity of the deployment plan. Once set, the process is automated and requires very little intervention from our technicians,” added Walters. “Acronis Universal Deploy also gives us peace of mind by eliminating the hardware constraints. No need to have identical hardware across the entire network.”

Christian College also uses Acronis to take images of the older workstations. When breakdowns happen, the images can be used as basic backups on the new machines.

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