Sep 16 2008

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Desktop management tools ease the administrative burden on IT.

Perhaps the biggest appeal of today’s desktop management tools is their ability to reduce the manpower needed to support state and local agencies’ growing responsibilities.

For example, Jason Potts, network administrator for the city of Franklin, Tenn., uses the Kace KBOX desktop management appliance to ease software distribution, patch management and security updates for the city’s 400 desktops. “Since we got the KBOX in place, we had one staffer go out on maternity leave, and we’ve actually had to let two people go, so staffing is very tight,” he says. “The KBOX is definitely helping us there because we can get more done with fewer people.”

Potts initially looked to the KBOX as a way to stream updates to client workstations without the need for granting individual users administrative rights. “Those updates are tedious, but they have to be done,” he says. “And you tend to put them on the back burner if you’re not having problems.”

Automated updates help the bottom line. Potts estimates it saves the work of one or two employees, bringing a return within the first six months of deployment. “You could spend $10,000 to $15,000 on a KBOX, or $40,000 to $50,000 on a support technician. That’s a big difference,” he says.

Plus, the KBOX eases software distribution for the city. “It lets us approve certain pieces of software, so if you have multiple departments that need the same piece of software and you don’t want to set up a managed install, you can simply approve the software for the user portal and allow users to click a link on your intranet and run the install themselves — all without having administrative rights,” he says. “It saves a lot of time. It’s the time it takes to install it on one machine versus 100, without the KBOX.”

And it should facilitate the installation of a citywide wireless network. “When that gets close to going online, we will probably work with Kace to see if we need to add an additional KBOX to the network. But the KBOX works over wireless and doesn’t take up a lot of bandwidth, so it should make managing the move easier,” Potts says.

Overall, state and local IT shops would be wise to revisit desktop management, Potts says. “From an IT standpoint, desktop management tools can address different aspects — whether it’s compliance, security, asset management, software management or installing software. It will definitely help, especially when staff is tight.”