2 page Case Study
Posted: 5/21/2013
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YES Prep Public Schools School Uses Administration Tools to Safeguard Data with Minimal Cost and Effort

YES Prep Public Schools wanted to safeguard data on teacher and lab computers in case the devices were stolen or lost but had minimal budget and a small IT team. By using the BitLocker drive encryption feature in the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system and Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring 2.0, the district can easily encrypt data on its 3,000 laptops and desktops, while minimizing IT team efforts, teacher disruptions, and costs.

Business Needs
YES Prep Public Schools is a model of success. Founded in 1998 to increase the number of low-income students in Houston, Texas, who attend four-year colleges, it has grown to an 11-campus district with 705 staff members, more than 7,000 students, and a perfect track record. Every graduating senior has attended college and 80 percent of alumni have completed college or are still enrolled. Not surprisingly, YES Prep schools are in high demand.

To meet this need, the district has been expanding aggressively, including adding two schools and 118 staff members for the fall 2013 academic year. However, along with this growth, the schools experienced challenges around data security and budgets.

“YES Prep schools are in disadvantaged areas, where unemployment and crime are prevalent. We used to have two to three laptops stolen every year, but as we added devices, that number rose,” says Troy Neal, Director of IT at YES Prep Public Schools. In 2012, 10 laptops were stolen.

YES Prep stores student data on central databases, but it cannot be sure that sensitive information is never downloaded onto teacher or lab computers. “We didn’t have tools in place that prevented data from leaking onto those computers, and we didn’t want to take any more chances, especially with our expansion plans. We needed a robust encryption solution,” says Neal.

The school district also needed to centrally manage encryption. With 11, and soon to be 13, campuses spread throughout Houston—one of which is 30 miles from the central administration office where the IT department is located—it is not feasible for the lean IT team to provide regular on-site support.

“Like many schools, we’ve had state budget cuts. It’s more important to spend our limited funds on teachers and tools that help them excel, than on additional IT employees. So, the more we can centralize operations and reduce the burden on our IT staff and budget, the better,” says Neal.

YES Prep Public Schools, which uses the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system, was eager to use the BitLocker drive encryption feature. However, the IT team was consumed with other priorities and did not have the resources to test and deploy the technology. Then it heard about Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) 2.0, part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). MBAM centralizes BitLocker provisioning and monitoring and vastly simplifies deployment, key recovery, and reporting of encryption status.

* We especially liked how MBAM integrates with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager to ease deployment and reporting, and how the self-service portal speeds key recovery. Plus, the price was unbeatable. *

Troy Neal
Director of IT, YES Prep Public Schools

“By using BitLocker and MBAM, we could easily safeguard data on devices that may be stolen or lost. We decided to join the Technology Adoption Program for MBAM so we’d have access to Microsoft resources to help deploy the solutions,” says Neal.

In February 2013, YES Prep put the beta version of MBAM in a Windows 7 image and used Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager to roll it out to 50 teachers and administrators as part of a pilot program.

“BitLocker and MBAM met our security and user experience requirements. We especially liked how MBAM integrates with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager to ease deployment and reporting, and how the self-service portal speeds key recovery. Plus, the price was unbeatable,” says Neal.

In March 2013, YES Prep deployed MBAM to 300 production laptops. It expects to have MBAM on all 3,000 Dell Latitude laptops and Dell OptiPlex desktops by July 31, 2013—in time for the new school year.

YES Prep also plans to use other MDOP components to ease IT management, including Microsoft Application Virtualization 5.0, which it has already started using to virtualize applications so that they can run on computers without being installed.

By using Microsoft encryption and management solutions, YES Prep Public Schools can help secure school data and ease the burden on IT staff and teachers, while operating within budget constraints.

Safeguarded Sensitive Information
YES Prep no longer worries that sensitive information will fall into the wrong hands if computers are stolen. “By encrypting all our devices with BitLocker and having compliance reports easily managed through System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, we feel confident that YES Prep data can’t be accessed if a computer is lost or stolen,” says Neal.

Simplified Encryption Tasks for IT Staff and Teachers
With Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring, it is easy for YES Prep to encrypt devices. By using the centralized management feature and the integrated System Center 2012 Configuration Manager capabilities, the IT team can administer BitLocker on teacher and lab computers from its IT offices, without traveling to the schools.

If teachers need a recovery key, they can quickly get it from the MBAM self-service portal, without calling the help desk. “The self-service portal is really valuable for teachers, who don’t have to time to track down technical resources, and for the IT team, which is busy on other projects that support our students’ education,” says Neal.

Maximized Resources with Limited Budget
YES Prep encrypted its computers without stressing its budget. “In education, where every dollar counts, it all boils down to cost and simplicity. Microsoft provided a great value and we didn’t have to compromise on security. We already owned BitLocker as part of Windows 7, so there was no additional cost for encryption and, as a Software Assurance customer, we got MDOP and all its components at an extremely affordable price. Also, because MBAM is integrated with System Center, we minimized infrastructure expense and management. You can’t get much better than that,” says Neal.

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 705 employees

Organization Profile

YES Prep Public Schools serves more than 7,000 disadvantaged sixth-grade through twelfth-grade students in Houston, Texas. About 705 employees work in 11 geographically dispersed schools.

Software and Services
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Monitoring 2.0
  • Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack
  • Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization 5.0
  • BitLocker To Go

Vertical Industries
Primary & Secondary Edu/ K-12

United States