Boys have been studying at Winchester College in England for more than 600 years. Today, the college depends on reliable, technology and secure, well-managed PCs so that this tradition can continue. When IT staff members were considering the
renewal of the college’s antivirus solution, they decided on a more powerful, flexible option that eliminates the need for on-premises infrastructure and works better with the college’s security network: the Windows Intune cloud-based PC-management service.
With a powerful antimalware solution that detects more viruses than its previous solution and PC management services available through a web-based console, IT staff can better manage software upgrades and security updates. And for the first time, IT staff
can provide remote assistance and proactive support, so that the college’s staff, Dons (teachers), and students can work more productively.
William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor to Edward III, founded Winchester College in 1382. The original foundation included a warden and ten fellows, two schoolmasters, three chaplains, seventy scholars, and sixteen quiristers (choristers).
Most features of this foundation are still in place, including the quiristers, who continue to sing in the chapel. Today, in addition to 70 scholars, there are an additional 620 pupils, called commoners, and 100 full-time teachers, or Dons, living at the college.
Supporting Learning with the Latest IT
In stark contrast to its medieval buildings and grounds, the college depends today on a state-of-the-art, reliable, and secure IT infrastructure. The four-member IT department ensures that its systems, network, and applications run smoothly, supporting
both the learning environment and the administrative functions of the college. This includes managing the college’s PCs: more than 90 portable computers for the Dons and 500 desktop computers for classroom labs and academic and administrative purposes. The
IT department is also on hand to support more than 350 portable computers belonging to the students. Last year, the college deployed the Windows 7 Professional operating system to all of its PCs and mobile computers.
||We began this venture thinking of Windows Intune as a way to protect our computers from malware. The built-in PC management tools were bonuses that made the solution a must-have for Winchester College.
| Damien Digby
ICT Systems Manager, Winchester College
“Upgrading to Windows 7 was about performance,” says Robin Sanders, ICT and AV Technician at Winchester College. “We had just installed an electronic registration system that means the Dons have to log on and take registration within five minutes of a lesson
beginning. The previous operating system was not efficient enough for this to happen. Windows 7 gave us a huge performance boost, improving the logon speed so the Dons can power up faster than ever.”
Looking for a New Antivirus Solution
The early and global deployment of Windows 7 is an example of the college’s commitment to staying in the forefront of technology. So when the college’s long-standing antivirus solution came up for license renewal and a mandated server upgrade, the IT
staff decided to look for a new solution that was more flexible and user-friendly. The existing solution had not adapted well to the extra security precautions employed by the IT staff, which included an array of three firewalls between the client network
and the server network. “In the past, we had to open various ports through our three internal firewalls to allow communication between the AV [antivirus] server and client. Also, our antivirus solution had a habit of changing the port numbers used for definition
downloads,” says Damien Digby, ICT Systems Manager at Winchester College. “Deploying antivirus definition updates across the network was a slow and cumbersome process.”
“Testing the new version, we found that client computers were not reporting to the server as frequently as desired, so IT staff did not trust the accuracy of the information they got,“ says Digby. “Concerned Dons would call us, saying the system had flagged
a virus on their computer and we hadn’t seen anything. It shouldn’t be the Dons’ job to tell us. We needed a solution with more accurate reporting so we could be more proactive about ensuring endpoint security.”
PC Management Issues
When a computer problem occurred on campus during normal school hours, a member of the IT staff could provide desk-side support or take the computer back to the lab to reinstall software. After regular school hours, this could often require a trip back
to campus from home for the member of staff on call. Providing remote assistance to Dons or administrative staff travelling around the world on field trips or college business was a greater challenge. “When our fundraising manager was in New York, she encountered
a problem on her laptop,” recalls Sanders. “I remember it was quite a challenge to diagnose and fix the problem over the phone.”
To update software on its PCs, the IT staff used Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), which requires an on-premises server and the care of a server administrator. “Windows Server Update Services has lots of wonderful features for blanket fixes for the
network, but we wanted more geo-location flexibility for delivering updates,” says Michael Facer, Network Manager at Winchester College.
Also, the college did not have tools to automate software and hardware inventorying. With an average of 30 applications on each client computer and a wide array of hardware specifications, Sanders spent a lot of time manually collating data to stay compliant
“While we started out looking for a new campus-wide antivirus solution, we ended up thinking about desktop management as a whole,” says Digby. “We identified several areas where we could improve our day-to-day efficiency and our ability to serve the college,
the Dons, and the students. We had been talking about our desire to simplify PC management and our need for a new antivirus solution to Dominic Bland at RKeyTec, our long-term technology partner. Luckily, he had been experimenting with a new cloud-based PC
management tool from Microsoft. It turned out to be the perfect solution for Winchester College.”
RKeyTec, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network with Gold competencies, had been piloting Windows Intune, the end-to-end Microsoft solution that combines Windows cloud services for PC management with endpoint malware (malicious software) protection.
It also provides remote assistance, software updates, and hardware and software tracking capabilities, and the ability to set security policies.
||Deploying antivirus definition updates across the network was a slow and cumbersome process.
| Damien Digby
ICT Systems Manager, Winchester College
To deliver management services using Windows Intune, the Windows Intune client software must be installed on the computers Winchester’s IT professionals wish to manage. Once the client is installed on the managed computers, the software returns information
on the specific PCs to the Windows Intune Administration console. The Winchester College IT team can just log on to the simple, web-based Administration console, gain insight into their managed PCs, and perform a number of management and security tasks. All
that’s needed is an Internet connection and a browser running Microsoft Silverlight.
RKeyTec had first-hand experience using Windows Intune. Beginning in October 2010, the company began working with the product while it was still in beta. “We were interested in Windows Intune to augment our PC management business for midmarket customers,”
says Dominic Bland, Director at RKeyTec. “With it, I could deliver a new level of service in configuration management that doesn’t require any investment in hardware. I knew that Windows Intune would be a great fit for Winchester College. It answers many of
the challenges that they are having with desktop management and endpoint security in one simple package.”
For Digby and his colleagues, the fact that Windows Intune was a cloud-based service added to its appeal. “We are fortunate enough at the college to have the freedom to explore new technologies as they come along. To simplify IT operations, we believe cloud
technologies are the way to move forward,” says Digby. “Windows Intune was a good chance to get started with cloud-based technologies. With the built-in Windows update services, we could retire our WSUS server; with Microsoft hosting the service, we would
reduce our overhead for PC management significantly.”
In December 2010, during the Christmas holiday, the IT staff started a pilot project running Windows Intune, still in beta, on 25 computers. “It was immediately apparent that Windows Intune was beneficial for the college. Client computers were immediately
able to communicate with the online server without having to open firewall ports to any of our own central servers. The whole suite of Windows Intune services available in one PC management solution really impressed us,” says Digby.
Next, the IT team ran Windows Intune on several computers in a classroom, whereupon the service immediately picked up malware that was missed by the original solution. “By that point, I was so impressed with Windows Intune that I asked Microsoft if they
would be willing to increase our beta test to all client machines at the college,” says Digby.
A few days later, Winchester College retired its antivirus solution. Working with RKeyTec, the IT team deployed Windows Intune, still in its beta release, globally. The IT staff decided to install the Windows Intune client software manually on all computers.
“We were supposed to be able to remove the previous antivirus solution using its console, but we noticed that it left behind small traces of itself,” says Digby. “So for a fair test, we went around to all the machines and thoroughly checked them. We also took
the opportunity to talk to everyone about Windows Intune. We are proud of our relationship with Microsoft, and the company is well-regarded here. Everyone was excited by what we were doing and looked forward to seeing the product in action.”
The IT staff took advantage of the solution’s flexibility to group its managed computers according to physical locations, instead of according to their operating systems. “Previously, we based our PC groupings on the operating systems, so we had a group
called Vista Desktops, and any machine running Windows Vista was included, no matter where it was located,” says Facer. “With Windows Intune, we could easily segregate and manage computers based on physical location.”
Although Sanders takes the daily responsibility of monitoring the college’s managed PCs using the Windows Intune Center console, all four IT professionals were involved in the project and use the console as needed.
With Windows Intune, Winchester College acquired an easily deployed, easily managed cloud-based service that the IT staff can use to gain unprecedented insight into the college’s PC environment. “We began this venture thinking of Windows Intune as a
way to protect our computers from malware. The built-in PC management tools were bonuses that made the solution a must-have for Winchester College,” says Digby.
||We now have one console that can be accessed from any computer, anywhere with an Internet connection, and we can see the status of all client machines in an easy-to-understand summary display.
| Robin Sanders
ICT and AV Technician, Winchester College
Since deploying Windows Intune, Winchester College has improved endpoint security, reduced costs, simplified PC management, and enabled better IT support for the staff, Dons, and students.
Improved Endpoint Security
From the outset, Windows Intune demonstrated that it could improve malware protection for the college’s computers, successfully flagging viruses that the other solution missed. “Windows Intune handles viruses a lot more effectively than our previous
solution,” says Facer. “Before, when malware infected a machine and the previous solution could not delete it, I would have to take computers back to the office to reinstall software: on average this occurred once or twice a week. In the four months since
deploying Windows Intune, I haven’t had to do this once. ”
The IT staff is thrilled with the degree of information the service delivers about each managed computer’s health status, giving the IT department a new arsenal of data to keep the college’s PCs up-to-date and secure. “Now, when we come in in the morning,
we can easily see if and where a problem has occurred,” says Digby. “With Windows Intune, we can see the antivirus status of any single machine and look into the specifics of a problem. Also, we can now instantly look at a roomful of computers and see how
many of those machines failed to deploy a security update and look through the logs to determine why.”
Better Software Inventory
Instead of manually tracking software inventories, IT professionals at the college are using Windows Intune to track software and hardware assets. This means the IT staff has an additional tool at its disposal to ensure the health of managed computers
on campus. Although the college’s systems do not allow students to install programs on college computers, the students sometimes ran executable software, such as computer games, using USB flash drives. “Windows Intune software inventorying capabilities mean
we can instantly see when and who has added anything to our computers,” says Sanders.
When deciding whether to deploy Windows Intune, Digby and his colleagues conducted a basic cost analysis, comparing the cost of Windows Intune with that of upgrading its existing antivirus solution and then licensing additional third-party software to
perform inventory management, remote assistance, and more flexible update services.
“There were clear and obvious savings to be made and also practical implications by having all these tools under the one client install,” says Digby. “We could also retire our WSUS and antivirus servers, reducing the amount of physical load in our server
The IT staff estimates that Windows Intune saved between 20 and 25 percent of what the college paid to license and manage third-party software products that did the same work. “It was clear to everyone involved that Windows Intune delivered great value for
us,” says Digby.
Improved PC Management, Simplified IT
By using Windows Intune, the Winchester College IT team is finding many ways to cut down on routine tasks so that they can focus on delivering IT services of more immediate value to the college. “We now have one console that can be accessed from any
computer, anywhere with an Internet connection, and we can see the status of all client machines in an easy-to-understand summary display,” says Sanders.
Since he has been using Windows Intune to view and track the college’s hardware and software inventory, Sanders is saving 10 to 20 percent of his time. “This one capability in Windows Intune has freed up my time by a fifth. Now I can concentrate on fixing
computers, not on doing paperwork,” he says. “We can export this data to a form that helps us keep our asset register fully up to date.”
Using Windows Intune to define computer groups by location and to assign security and update policies to those locations means that the IT staff reduces the chance of accidently installing the wrong software on a computer and overwriting something crucial.
“We can quickly ascertain the health of computers in specific areas, instead of having to go the physical location and manually check every machine,” says Facer.
Also, by using the Windows Intune console, the IT staff can easily monitor, choose, and deploy security updates, software upgrades, and service packs to groups of computers or to individual PCs, even on remote machines outside the network.
Improved IT Support Services
With robust endpoint protection and PC management tools at their fingertips, the IT staff at Winchester College is using Windows Intune to raise the level of service it can provide to staff, Dons, and students. Remote assistance, not really possible
before, can be easily achieved using a standard Internet connection. All a staff member or Don has to do is initiate a service request, which appears directly in the Administration console. Any member of the college IT team can handle the request from any
computer that has an Internet connection, at home or at school. “Now we can offer support to our staff and Dons anywhere in the world, so they can stay productive while conducting college business,” says Digby. “And because Windows Intune delivers an abundance
of accurate information about each managed computer, including who the primary user is for each machine, it’s a powerful diagnostic tool that expedites issue resolution.”
The IT staff is looking forward to the new version of Windows Intune, which offers additional management capabilities to boost the service it can provide to Dons, staff, and students. “The new version is capable of installing, updating, and patching all
of our third-party software packages, giving us a fully functional software deployment system which can only help to improve the already packed Windows Intune arsenal,” says Digby.
All of these capabilities mean that with Windows Intune, Winchester College IT staff can provide a level of support not previously attainable. “We no longer have Dons calling us with a problem,” says Digby. “Now we can say to them, ‘Your computer encountered
a virus last night, but Windows Intune dealt with it before you even noticed there was a problem.’ Everyone’s been incredibly impressed.”
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For more information about Windows Intune, go to:
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