How Goverlan helped Graves County Schools green their IT department and slash energy costs.
Company: Graves County Schools
Pushing patches school wide
Limited options to share, customize & automate actions
Interrupting teachers while performing support tasks
No power management options to automate power on & shutdown of computers school wide
Needed real-time access to users/computers
Quick detection & auto-installation of software patches
Push technology-based customizable/shareable actions that can be pushed to users/ computers school wide, run ad-hoc or automated
Background processes for unobtrusive support
Simple power management - automate power on & shutoff
Powerful search capabilities to access users/computers in real-time
The Graves County School district, consisting of 11 schools spread across four cities in Graves County, Kentucky, including Elementary, Middle, and High schools, is guided by a student-centered philosophy with teachers at its core, and fosters an educational environment where schools, parents, and communities work together to help students reach their highest potential. www.wkatc.kyschools.us
With three systems administrators in charge of supporting an entire school district, comprised of 15 locations distributed across four cities in Kentucky and approximately 2,000 machines, the Graves County Schools IT Department needs to be able to act fast to resolve issues.
When Oracle's Java 7 Update 10 security vulnerability CVE-2013-0422 left the school district's network infrastructure vulnerable to potential security threats and many users confused and frustrated, the team needed to mobilize their efforts full tilt. In addition, it became vital to detect users and machines in real-time in order to pinpoint the source of the problem. Other important challenges included performing day-to-day support tasks with minimal user interaction and reducing energy costs.
A colleague recommended Goverlan during a technology exchange meeting to John Wilkins, District Network Technician for Graves County School District. Shortly after downloading the software, Wilkins was able to begin using it immediately and find ways to improve his work tasks.
"Goverlan is very easy to use. I had also spent some time using Kaseya earlier in my career and the products' abilities are analogous. Newcomers only need to explore Goverlan to see the vast abilities it offers to help you get things done," affirmed Wilkins. Discovering the advantages offered by Goverlan, the Graves County Schools IT team implemented Goverlan within their infrastructure.
Powerful Search & Detection, Global Patches & Updates
When Java 7 Update 10 exposed a zero-day vulnerability that could be exploited by attackers to run remote code and command, Wilkins and his team had to move fast to patch their systems to Java 1.7u11 (Oracle's solution to the vulnerability).
With Goverlan's powerful search and detection, Wilkins and the team isolated those computers with the flawed Java version, and then used the Custom Actions feature to push the new patches to those machines school wide.
"Goverlan saved our hide and gave us the quick access and agility we needed when solving the latest Java issue. With Goverlan's Scope Actions, I was able to create a remote console command (which I named 'Java version reporter') to detect and isolate machines with Java 7 Update 10, and then patch Java on those specific machines, without having to drive into or RDP the users' machines. If computers were turned off, I created a Custom Action to selectively wake those machines via Wake on Lan and then push the Java patch to these individual targets.
On some machines, the Java installation became corrupt if the version being patched was already installed (a side effect of some users inadvertently downloading the update when prompted by a Java pop-up), requiring time-consuming manual uninstall/reinstalls. To circumvent this, I modified a Scope Actions to detect existing installations and bypass any that match the version I'm installing.
The most powerful part of Goverlan's Scope Actions is being able to create a fully customized action in less than 5 minutes, save it as a template, and then simply click to run school wide. I can also share these customized actions with the team, saving them a great deal of time," explained Wilkins.
Unobtrusive Support for Teachers
Another aspect of Goverlan that has proven essential to the Graves County Schools IT team is the ability to perform troubleshooting tasks without interrupting the users' work. "A teacher can continue a PowerPoint lecture while I perform my tasks unobtrusively in the background; they usually don't know that I'm doing anything until I notify them they're fixed!" stated Wilkins.
"[Goverlan's] 'invisible hand' at the keyboard offers so many options to get things accomplished that any network is bound to benefit - be it one with 10 machines or nearly 2,000 machines. Goverlan has proven invaluable for instant issue resolving and machine updating; if I can see the machine in Goverlan, I can make changes to it in real time," he added.
Green IT Made Easy
Additionally, as part of a recent district-wide initiative to implement a greener IT and reduce the schools' power consumption and operating costs, the team began using Goverlan to automate the shutting off and turning on of machines. "We can now easily shut off machines at the end of the day and then start them early in the morning prior to students arriving," noted Wilkins.
Value to the Enterprise
"Goverlan has not only helped us overcome our [geographical] challenge, but it has changed our model of response, saving us money and time. When possible, we now respond virtually first, cutting down the number of tickets that we have to physically respond to. Responding physically in our district is a challenge in itself, but it also costs money. Not only do we spend money on gas and vehicle wear and tear, but we also spend time behind the wheel," noted McMillen.
Despite declining operating budgets, the Graves County Schools IT Department can continue to provide on-the-spot support to their schools. "Our budgets have been shrinking in public education for years; with Goverlan, we can provide a higher quality of service while operating on a smaller budget. Also, by cutting the lead times on our responses, we gain good will with our end users by allowing them to get back to normal operation faster," he added.
With Goverlan, the Graves County Schools IT team now saves more time and effort in performing their daily support tasks, and is better equipped to handle any challenge today's complex IT environment throws their way. Additionally, they have been able to reduce their energy footprint and costs by automating the powering on and off of school computers, implementing a greener IT. "Goverlan offers very useful, time-saving features integrated in one console; I can dispatch a GPUpdate to a group of machines network wide with a simple right click instead of having to create a batch; I can quickly pull all local printers off, migrate them or install new ones – all with a Custom Action I can set up to right click and go. In addition, having a remote command line in one program along all these other tools has also proven very useful," concluded Wilkins.