4-page Case Study
Posted: 12/22/2010
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Palm Beach State College College Saves $500,000 Through Technology Consolidation and IT Efficiency Gains

Palm Beach State College faced declining budgets and the need to support a growing student body with the right technologies to foster learning. The college added the Microsoft Enterprise Client Access License Suite agreement to its existing Microsoft Campus Agreement to conserve costs while getting access to a range of technology solutions, including those that enhance IT management, security, and user productivity. As a result, it has eliminated many third-party products, gained IT staff efficiencies, improved communications capabilities, and streamlined operations, saving U.S.$500,000 annually. These improvements make it easier for faculty and staff to provide high-quality education to the college’s more than 50,000 students, and using progressive technologies better prepares the college and its students for the future.

Situation
Palm Beach State College is the largest institution of higher education in Palm Beach County, Florida, providing bachelor degrees, associate degrees, professional certificates, career training, and lifelong learning to more than 50,000 students each year. Established in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, it offers more than 100 programs of study at campuses in Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, and Belle Glade.

The Palm Beach State College student population has grown by double digits each year for the past four years, yet it has not had any budget to add to its 60-person IT staff. Providing for an ever-growing student body without additional funds presented a challenge.

In fact, like many publicly funded institutions, Palm Beach State College has faced declining budgets for the last few years. At the same time, it has sought to improve its technology infrastructure to give faculty, staff, and students the tools that they need to support education and access to all the information that they need, from anywhere. “We try to make the most of technology to boost our service and efficiency and save costs wherever we can,” says Anthony Parziale, Chief Information Officer for Palm Beach State College.

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* It just made sense from an administrative and economics standpoint to go with the Enterprise CAL Suite. *

Anthony Parziale
Chief Information Officer, Palm Beach State College

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But putting the right tools in place to ensure that it was maximizing its resources was not always easy. For example, the college wanted to make full, intelligent use of its existing resources, including the workstations spread among its four campuses. Yet it had no good way of knowing exactly how all 4,000 PCs were being used, or even if they were being used. “We needed to determine if those resources could and should be used more efficiently and, if so, how to raise the utilization factor,” says Parziale.

In addition, the college maintained a complex IT environment and lacked a comprehensive solution with which to manage it. The Palm Beach State College data center, for instance, used a number of different tools to manage its disparate components. “Not only did it take an entire year for a new staff member to be fully trained to effectively manage our variety of networking gear and server systems, but afterward, that person was stuck monitoring seven different consoles and responding to separate sets of alerts,” recalls Mike Merker, Director of Technology Infrastructure for Palm Beach State College.

Further complicating IT management was that each of the four Palm Beach campuses had its own slightly different Altiris software setup that required an on-site manager for regular management tasks. “We had skilled IT staff members dealing with routine maintenance at individual campuses, rather than using their expertise to promote collegewide improvements,” says Merker.

The college faced a similar situation when it came to security software. It used Norton antivirus software on its desktop computers, and Symantec antispam software for its Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 environment. Not only did it take extra IT staff time to manage the disparate systems, but the antivirus program also significantly impeded user productivity. “Norton used to prevent faculty and staff members from using their computers every Friday morning for up to four hours as it conducted full-system scans,” says Chris Persaud, Director of Information Technology Customer Support and Quality Assurance for Palm Beach State College. “We heard disgruntled employees say that they shouldn’t even bother to come to work on Friday mornings, and other similar complaints.”

Palm Beach State College wanted to unify its IT environment, eliminate redundancy, and improve efficiencies across the board, from IT management and enhanced security to user productivity. “The reality is that we’re not likely to get any more funding, space, or IT staff members as the years go by, so we’re looking for ways to consolidate what we have and do more with less,” says Parziale.

Solution
Palm Beach State College decided to revamp its environment using Microsoft technologies designed to work together to streamline management and boost user productivity. The college opted to sign a Microsoft Campus Agreement featuring the Microsoft Enterprise Client Access License (CAL) Suite. “We’ve watched the features, functionality, and stability of many Microsoft offerings mature and become viable options for us,” says Parziale. “The way the Enterprise CAL Suite licensing is set up, we’re able to save money by migrating some of our existing products to Microsoft products. Plus, when we added up the licensing costs for all the different Microsoft products and considered the complexity of those separate client access licenses, it just made sense from an administrative and economics standpoint to go with the Enterprise CAL Suite.”

Adds Merker, “We also receive the added management and cost benefit of essentially having to renew only one license.”

Anywhere Access
Along with the Enterprise CAL Suite, Palm Beach State College also added the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack and virtualized its software assets using Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 4.5, which is part of that software package. Virtualization makes it possible for faculty and staff to access their software and personal settings from any computer on the network. “Our faculty and staff frequently move among our campuses, and we didn’t want them to worry about having to have specific computers in order to teach and do other work,” says Persaud. “They can log on to any computer—on any of the campuses or off—and see their personal settings, documents, applications, and other data, and they can print from any computer.” By placing everything on the college’s storage area network (SAN), all users’ information and print capabilities essentially stay with them, accessible through their logons.

Migration of IT Management Tools
Virtualization is just one step toward a more efficient environment. From an IT perspective, it was critical to centralize management and provide the college’s IT staff with a more comprehensive set of management tools. Therefore, Palm Beach State College embraced the Microsoft System Center Client Management Suite. First, it switched from its Altiris tool to Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007, a move that enabled the college to rethink its approach to desktop deployment. When the college upgraded its PCs to the Windows 7 operating system, for example, IT staff permanently moved its entire IT profile (from personal settings, configurations, applications, and data) to the college’s SAN and transferred all the applications onto App-V, so that they are accessible from anywhere.

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* By the time we’re done, we’ll be saving nearly $250,000 annually in licensing costs alone; and, if we factor in soft savings, we’ll achieve savings of half a million dollars a year. *

Anthony Parziale
Chief Information Officer, Palm Beach State College

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“We used System Center Configuration Manager 2007 to deploy all the software, so we only needed to deploy a raw image of Windows 7 to the computers, which made the process more straightforward and less time-consuming than manual imaging and software installations. It helped us establish a foundation for the ‘anywhere access’ that we want to provide,” says Persaud.

The college also plans to adopt Microsoft System Center Service Manager 2010. “Once we tie System Center Service Manager to System Center Configuration Manager, we’ll be able to build a change-management or service-request task and have our tools automatically track the task, create the event, and manage it, along with other tasks,” continues Persaud. “We’ll have metrics regarding how many times we’ve done one task or another, and all the information will be presented with the same familiar Microsoft look and feel. Using System Center Service Manager also will make it easy for employees to transition among the different parts of the System Center suite.”

Changes to the Security Infrastructure
Palm Beach State College also used its Enterprise CAL Suite investment to replace its previous Norton and Symantec security tools, ultimately opting to deploy Microsoft Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server and Microsoft Forefront Client Security. The college conducted a side-by-side comparison of products from McAfee, Avira, and Microsoft prior to making its decision on antivirus software for the environment. “When we looked at benefit versus cost, we got the best value from Forefront,” says Parziale. “It was more than ‘good enough’ and an excellent value.”

Adds Chuck Zettler, Project Manager for Palm Beach State College, “We also appreciated that the Forefront products recognize Active Directory Domain Services and that we can manage Group Policy for security more easily through Microsoft System Center products than with Avira.”

Upgrades to Communications Capabilities
As it examined all the opportunities to derive value from adding the Enterprise CAL Suite to its Campus Agreement, Palm Beach State College realized that, by moving to a Microsoft Unified Communications solution, it could replace its aging Nortel voice system, which had become expensive to maintain. “It just wasn’t cost-effective to continue to pay about U.S.$25,000 per year for the Nortel licensing and maintenance, and we were unable to expand the number of licenses without upgrading that hardware, which would have required an investment of more than $400,000,” says Parziale. “Plus, we knew that we wanted to move from our digital system to voice over IP.”

The college quickly switched from using the Nortel unified messaging system, CallPilot, to Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 R2 for voice mail. “Our users like Communicator, particular the presence functionality and the ability to access voice mail through Outlook Web Access from off-campus,” says Persaud. “The Nortel system gave us problems, so it was great to deploy a Microsoft product that’s integrated with what we’re already using for messaging. Now users get their voice mail through Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.”

Palm Beach State College is using Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 functionality to support communication among faculty, staff, and students. “I’ve already taken our conference-call bridge—which cost us 8 to 10 cents per minute per user, which equated to between $5,000 and $25,000 per year—and replaced it with conference calling through Microsoft Unified Communications,” says Parziale.

Also, Palm Beach State College no longer uses its video-conferencing system, in favor of Microsoft Office Live Meeting and Office Communicator. The IT department plans to continue replacing the components of the college’s Nortel system with Microsoft Unified Communications.

The college also intends to move to Microsoft Lync Server 2010, a communications solution that provides a single interface uniting voice communications; instant messaging; and audio, video, and web conferencing. “We’re optimistic that Microsoft Lync Server 2010 will fit our environment, especially since it offers flexible options for our faculty and staff,” says Parziale.

Future Plans
The college has not yet finished implementing all the technology solutions that are covered by its Enterprise CAL Suite investment. It is in the process of planning its upgrade to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 to accompany its adoption of Microsoft Lync Server 2010. “We have a goal of having software that is only 12 months old or younger,” says Parziale. “We’re interested in upgrading to Exchange Server 2010 so that we have not only the latest functionality, but also the ability to adopt other products that require advanced messaging functionality to get the most value from them.”

Palm Beach State College also would like to foster online collaboration for faculty and students through the addition of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 portal capabilities. Plus, it wants to adopt a cloud-based solution for more-scalable data storage. The college also is looking to further safeguard its workstations by taking advantage of Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010.

Benefits
Palm Beach State College has seen tremendous gains from its Enterprise CAL Suite investment in terms of overall cost savings, operational efficiencies, and user productivity. “The steps we’ve taken to optimize our environment through the Microsoft Enterprise CAL Suite not only support our operations, but also mean that we now can rise to meet the college’s demands without needing additional internal resources. Those funds can instead be directed toward enhancing the student experience in other areas,” says Merker.

Annual Cost Savings of $500,000
Palm Beach State College anticipates saving considerable resources each year because of its Enterprise CAL Suite investment. “By the time we’re done, we’ll be saving nearly $250,000 annually in licensing costs alone; and, if we factor in soft savings, we’ll achieve savings of half a million dollars a year,” says Parziale.

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* Users don’t need to wait for us to help them with routine things, such as setting voice mail for them when they’re out of the office, because the Microsoft solution provides user self-service capabilities. *

Mike Merker
Director of Technology Infrastructure, Palm Beach State College

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In addition to the staffing efficiencies, the college’s savings are due to the elimination of third-party software and the consolidation of its many software licenses. That consolidation was made possible with the adoption of System Center Configuration Manager 2007, which helped the college’s IT staff identify its many versions of similar software so that it could choose one version and eliminate the licenses for the others.

“It’s a major win for us to finally be able to see the myriad applications that our faculty and staff are using and simplify our whole environment,” says Persaud. “Particularly for products like those from Adobe, we had all sorts of versions that different departments had gone out and purchased separately, but without the visibility that we now have through System Center tools, we had no way of knowing how many copies—and licenses—were out there.”

More Efficient IT Management
For Palm Beach State College, adopting System Center tools helps IT staff stay productive and streamline operations. “It’s valuable for us to have one set of related tools for IT management,” says Persaud. “We can use the System Center Client Management Suite to handle operations, virtual machines, services, and configuration.” Having that single set of tools makes managing software updates and other tasks more approachable. For instance, the college went from about 25 percent compliance with software updates to 96 percent compliance after the implementation of System Center Configuration Manager 2007.

The IT department also has gained improved reporting capabilities. “We couldn’t get nearly the depth of information from our Altiris system as we do with System Center Configuration Manager 2007,” says Zettler. “We needed to use our time and resources more effectively, and these tools are helping us be more efficient and better manage our efforts.”

In fact, Palm Beach State College has moved the four campus IT managers who used to do hands-on technical support for desktop computers into more strategic roles at a centralized location. “We’ve been able to reallocate key staff members and essentially regain four high-level positions, because one lower-level technical resource is now able to handle the needs of all four campuses,” says Merker. “And those four technical experts are able to focus on more strategic projects to further collegewide advancements. For example, we couldn’t have completed all our recent Enterprise CAL-related projects without that reallocation because we wouldn’t have had the technical talent available.”

The Palm Beach State College IT department also saves time because it uses System Center Configuration Manager 2007 to support a better deployment structure than the college had in the past. “We now have a clear, consistent deployment process collegewide instead of a convoluted, piecemeal approach,” says Merker. “We saved time on the operating system upgrade because everything was already prepackaged, and we didn’t have to worry about installing anything manually.”

Continues Merker, “We’ve also reduced our total number of applications from 5,000 to just 170 through better asset management, and we’ve made a commitment to using System Center tools to keep our desktop computers and applications current and to track utilization to prevent another proliferation of software in the environment.”

Greater User Productivity
Implementing Microsoft products that are covered under the Enterprise CAL Suite has made a difference to others, beyond the college’s IT staff; faculty and administrators also benefit from productivity enhancements. “For example, our switching to Forefront Client Security means that users can stay productive, because it doesn’t lock them out and keep them waiting like Norton did,” says Persaud. “Deploying that product alone relieves a severe impact on the college’s overall productivity.” The college also is looking to take advantage of Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 in the future.

Instructors and administrative staff have embraced the new communications improvements, and IT staff have noted a decrease in help requests. “Users don’t need to wait for us to help them with routine things, such as setting voice mail for them when they’re out of the office, because the Microsoft solution provides user self-service capabilities,” says Merker.

Employees from both the IT and non-IT side of Palm Beach State College have provided positive feedback about the college’s technology environment. “We frequently hear from folks who’ve visited other colleges or worked elsewhere that they didn’t realize how progressive our campuses are or how much they take our technology-enabled capabilities for granted,” says Parziale. “As the old saying goes, ‘You never know how good you have it ‘til you go someplace else.’ They see just how many technology tools we can offer them here to help them work effectively.”

Easy, Enhanced Access
The changes that Palm Beach State College has made to its IT infrastructure are helping IT staff achieve the goal of providing access to information and college resources from anywhere on the network. The college relies on virtualization to support the flexible scheduling that is necessary for a community college that must meet the needs of a varied student body. “With our students’ hectic schedules, we have to be highly accommodating as to when and where we hold classes, on which campuses, and in what buildings and rooms,” says Persaud. “By establishing critical capabilities through our Microsoft technologies, such as using App-V to virtualize software, we can give our faculty members the flexibility to be where they need to be when they need to be there. They’re able to successfully access and deliver their course content, and we no longer have to drop everything to do emergency software installs, for example.”

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* By establishing critical capabilities through our Microsoft technologies, such as using App-V to virtualize software, we can give our faculty members the flexibility to be where they need to be when they need to be there. *

Chris Persaud
Director of Information Technology Customer Support and Quality Assurance, Palm Beach State College

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Instructors—who frequently need to move among the college’s four campuses—no longer have to remember to contact the IT department for help. They now can be fully mobile, working and teaching from any campus classroom workstation, without having to lug around a portable computer. “We treat computer hardware as furniture that stays in its designated room, whereas software essentially moves with the people, accessible from any computer by logging in,” explains Zettler. “Giving faculty and staff access to virtual computers that look exactly like their desktops, rather than tying their work to a particular PC, not only helps guarantee a consistent experience for them, but also relieves IT staff from all the classroom setup and system troubleshooting that used to be necessary, saving us a huge amount of time.”

The college has experienced a 50 percent reduction in calls to its help desk. “Our calls now are not requests for software but for legitimate troubleshooting—forgotten passwords and so on,” says Zettler. “Our ultimate goal for calls related to software is for the help desk to be able to resolve the issue by putting the caller in the appropriate security group, with no further time and effort necessary.”

Adds Persaud, “It’s great to empower our users to go anywhere in the world and have easy access to their desktops, documents, files, applications, voice mail, and so on. From instructors teaching from any room on any campus to our college president attending conferences and staying fully connected using any PC with an Internet connection, they’re able to get to what they need.”

Persaud gives a striking example of the benefit of employee access to the college’s virtualized software. A Palm Beach State College instructor had completed preparation for teaching six courses, but her house was broken into just one week before the semester started, and her portable computer was stolen. She thought she had lost all her work and materials for all her classes, but because of the college’s centralized document folder redirection, the instructor did not have to recreate her course content. “She was extremely grateful,” says Persaud. “We’ve never before been able to resurrect files for users who had lost them, and now we’ve made it possible for faculty and staff to do it themselves.”

Enhanced Employee Satisfaction
Palm Beach State College points to its Enterprise CAL Suite–related solutions as positively affecting the work environment for its IT staff, which is more fulfilled when using the latest tools and technologies. “Working with an array of Microsoft technologies is more engaging for our staff, and our environment and IT staff are all much better prepared for future initiatives, such as moving to cloud computing,” notes Zettler. “We feel as though the Enterprise CAL Suite promotes our progressive technology philosophy and offers a foundation that we can build on for years to come.”

Tools to Support Learning
Some faculty members who teach at Palm Beach State College are taking advantage of technology tools to interact with their students in creative ways. “They’re even using Microsoft Office Live Meeting to work with students,” says Parziale. “One of our biology professors regularly helps students understand complex material by holding evening review sessions, in which as many as 12 students join the conference from wherever they are, listening, watching demonstrations, and asking questions. Helping multiple students at the same time without requiring anyone to be in a particular location makes it easier for instructors to serve our students, many of whom also work and maintain busy schedules.”

Adds Persaud, “By providing faculty and staff with more powerful tools and keeping all our software current, we enable people to do an even better job and deliver an outstanding learning experience to Palm Beach College students.”

Microsoft Infrastructure Optimization
With infrastructure optimization, you can build a secure, well-managed, and dynamic core IT infrastructure that can reduce overall IT costs, make better use of resources, and become a strategic asset for the business. The Infrastructure Optimization model—with basic, standardized, rationalized, and dynamic levels—was developed by Microsoft using industry best practices and Microsoft’s own experiences with enterprise customers. The Infrastructure Optimization model provides a maturity framework that is flexible and easily used as a benchmark for technical capability and business value.

For more information about Microsoft infrastructure optimization, go to:
www.microsoft.com/businessproductivity

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about Palm Beach State College products and services, call (866) 576-7222 or visit the website at:
www.palmbeachstate.edu

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 2800 employees

Organization Profile

Palm Beach State College employs approximately 2,800 full-time and part-time faculty and staff, who serve the educational needs of more than 50,000 students each year on four campuses.


Business Situation

The college wanted to provide faculty, staff, and students with the ability to access all the information that they need from any computer at any location. At the same time, it sought to conserve costs.


Solution

Palm Beach State College chose to make a long-term investment in Microsoft solutions by adding a Microsoft Enterprise Client Access License Suite agreement.


Benefits

  • Annual cost savings of U.S.$500,000
  • More efficient IT management
  • Greater user productivity
  • Easy, enhanced access
  • Tools to support learning


Software and Services
  • Microsoft Enterprise CAL Suite
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2007
  • Microsoft Forefront Client Security
  • Microsoft Forefront Protection Manager
  • Microsoft Forefront Protection 2010 For Exchange Server
  • Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007
  • Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2007
  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007
  • Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization
  • Windows 7
  • Microsoft Active Directory Domain Services
  • Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 R2

Vertical Industries
Higher Education

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
Cloud & Server Platform

IT Issue
Personal Productivity

Languages
English

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