With a population of almost a quarter million people, Buskerud Fylkeskommune is a county in southern Norway. Buskerud County is responsible for managing a high-school system of 13 schools and more than 8,000 students, and through the Elev-PC ordningen—or Student PC program—the county distributes a portable computer to every eleventh-year student upon entering high school. Each school distributed and managed its own computers, and the county wanted to standardize and centralize PC management across the system to reduce its IT support burden and focus on the educational goals of the computer program. The county IT staff deployed Windows 7 Enterprise to almost 10,000 student and teacher PCs, enhancing PC performance, streamlining IT management, and focusing the Elev-PC ordningen on enhancing high-school education in Buskerud County.
Stretching from the shores of the Oslo Fjord to Norway’s central mountains, Buskerud Fylkeskommune is a county in southern Norway that covers an area of more than 15,000 square kilometers. The county contains 21 municipalities, and its administrative center is located in the city of Drammen.
Buskerud County supports a population of more than a quarter million people and a wide range of industries, from traditional woodworking to engineering to information technology. The county government is responsible for regional planning, business development, public transportation, cultural preservation, and upper secondary education. The county manages a Videregående (high school) system of 13 schools and more than 8,000 students.
In 2007, the county began the Elev-PC ordningen—or Student PC program. Every eleventh-year student entering Videregående receives a portable computer that they use during their three years of high school. The county also distributes computers to the faculty at each high school. Students use the computers to manage their schoolwork, and teachers use their PCs to create lesson plans, manage assignments, and develop new ways of teaching.
When the program began, the county used computers that were running the Windows XP operating system and Microsoft Office 2003 productivity software. In 2007 and 2008, the county migrated about 5,000 student and faculty computers to the Windows Vista operating system.
Because each school relied on its own staff to manage the Elev-PC ordningen computers, the county could not standardize IT management for the program. The quality of IT support depended on the resources of a particular school. “Most schools did well, while others had problems,” says Dennis Horn, IT Consultant at Buskerud Fylkeskommune. “For example, it could take more than an hour to set up a new computer, and at some schools, students weren’t getting their PCs until more than two months after the school year began.”
The situation was complicated because some Elev-PC ordningen computers were equipped with only 1 gigabyte of memory, which created performance issues when they were updated with Windows Vista. Because the deployment process was not standardized, many PCs were unstable, making it difficult for students and teachers to complete their work and increasing the support burden for local IT staffs. “I used to work at one of the high schools, and I often had to respond to more than 10 service requests every day,” says Horn.
Buskerud County wanted to enhance computer performance and streamline PC management so it could focus more on the central educational goals of the Elev-PC ordningen and less on routine IT management and maintenance. “We want to support our users in a more proactive way and help instructors and students use their computers to find more effective, more efficient ways to teach and learn,” says Horn.Solution
In 2010, Buskerud Fylkeskommune worked with IT integrator and Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Atea to deploy Windows 7 Enterprise and Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 to 90 percent of the almost 10,000 student and teacher PCs spread about the county’s 13 schools. The county also is using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 to centralize PC management across the entire Videregående system.
||After we deployed Windows 7 Enterprise, help-desk requests decreased from ten students every day to three a week.
IT Consultant, Buskerud Fylkeskommune
The county uses Windows 7 to operate more than 60 applications and web applications on the PCs, including programs that teachers use to create lesson plans, and solutions that students and parents use to monitor homework assignments or performance on tests. Each school runs its own combination of applications, so the county contracted with Atea Services in Riga to package the specific applications used by each school with Windows 7 Enterprise, Office Professional Plus 2010, and an antivirus program.
“The county was very self-driven and performed most of the deployment work itself,” says Arild Fevang, Project Manager at Atea. “We provided advice about designing the System Center Configuration Manager environment, and we built the software packages. Then the county installed the packages and distributed PCs that were appropriate to each school.”
For example, while two Buskerud County schools wanted another web browser, most are migrating from Windows Internet Explorer 7 internet browser to Internet Explorer 8. With the centralized software-management system, all schools receive the browser of their choice, and most schools can use Internet Explorer 8 to provide students and teachers with enhanced web capabilities and improved defense from malicious websites and the exposure of private data. According to Horn, the county did not run into any compatibility issues between Internet Explorer 8 and its existing web applications, and the migration from Internet Explorer 7 was simple and quick.
Buskerud County uses System Center Configuration Manager to distribute and manage the software packages from one centralized management environment. IT administrators can even update and maintain applications without interrupting the students’ use of their PCs. Now the county’s central IT staff can manage and better control the entire Elev-PC ordningen system and still meet the needs of individual schools, teachers, and students.
In addition, the county is safeguarding student and teacher PCs by using AppLocker technology in Windows 7 to block designated applications and control which programs can be run on an Elev-PC ordningen computer. “We use AppLocker to restrict the use of file-sharing programs, which were introducing 80 percent of the viruses that were infecting our network,” says Horn.
In one high school, county IT staff are evaluating Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V), part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance, as one way to manage applications in its Windows 7 environment. By using App-V to virtualize and deliver applications, the county could let students and teachers access the applications they need from any PC, while maintaining management control of the application suite.Benefits
By upgrading the computers in the Elev-PC ordningen with Windows 7, Buskerud Fylkeskommune has streamlined and centralized PC management across the county’s high-school system, saving time and money. Students and teachers benefit from a standardized, high-performance PC environment, and IT staff members, teachers, and students can focus on enhancing high school education in Buskerud County.
Enhanced PC Performance, Streamlined PC Management
By deploying a stable, high-performance operating system, Buskerud County has reduced computer performance issues and routine support problems in the Elev-PC ordningen by more than 90 percent. “After we deployed Windows 7, help-desk requests decreased from 10 students every day to three a week,” says Horn.
||We use AppLocker to restrict the use of file-sharing programs, which were introducing 80 percent of the viruses that were infecting our network.
IT Consultant, Buskerud Fylkeskommune
The county deployed Windows 7 on almost 9,000 PCs in a short timeframe by working with deployment tools and the improved volume activation process in Windows 7 and by using System Center Configuration Manager to distribute prebuilt software packages. Instead of taking more than one hour to set up a computer, IT staff can now do it in 25 minutes, and the process is almost completely automated. “The only manual task we have to do to deploy a PC with Windows 7 is type in the student’s username,” says Horn. “The time savings add up when you’re talking about 10,000 computers.”
Instead of each school doing the best it could to deploy student computers, now every student receives a complete software package with a standardized Windows 7 image. The county spends less time and money to administer the Elev-PC ordningen system because IT administrators can quickly activate Windows 7 and use the tools available in the operating system to enhance their control over the PC environment, and with System Center Configuration Manager, the county has centralized PC management. Happy, Productive Students
For the 2010 school year, Buskerud County students and teachers had their PCs by the end of the first week of school, instead of having to wait from three weeks to more than two months, depending on which school they attended. Students found they could operate their computers easily, without having to rely heavily on IT support.
For example, students and teachers can use Windows Search in Windows 7 to search for files, email messages, pictures, and programs right from the Start menu, making it much quicker to find information. By using Windows 7 to support Office Professional Plus 2010, the county has provided students and teachers with updated and enhanced tools for communicating, and creating and managing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other study materials. For example, students use the Microsoft OneNote 2010 note-taking program to record and organize their notes, and to work together in teams to complete assignments.
“The students and teachers are very happy with Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010,” says Horn. “Once we started the deployment, everyone wanted them as fast as possible.” Renewed Focus on Education
Now the IT personnel at the county and at individual schools can use the time they used to spend on routine maintenance and support to meet other priorities, such as developing new solutions to help instructors teach and students learn.
“Since deploying Windows 7, our IT staff have more time to help teachers make the Elev-PC ordningen program more effective,” says Horn. “And they can teach students how to use their computers more productively, instead of spending all their time fixing problems.”Windows 7
Works the way you want: Windows 7 will help your organization use information technology to gain a competitive advantage in today’s new world of work. Your people will be able to be more productive anywhere. You will be able to support your mobile workforce with better access to shared data and collaboration tools. And your IT staff will have better tools and technologies for enhanced corporate IT security and data protection, and more efficient deployment and management.
For more information about Windows 7, go to:For More Information
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