The Save the Children U.S. IT staff supports a highly mobile workforce of more than 500 people who travel the world advocating for children. These employees expect their portable computers to be up and running no matter where they are working. That is why Save the Children U.S. subscribed to the Windows Intune cloud-based PC-management solution from Microsoft that includes upgrade rights to Windows 7 Enterprise. Now desktop-support staff members use a simple, web-based console to perform endpoint protection, PC management tasks, and remote assistance, which empowers employees to work more productively. Save the Children U.S. avoided U.S.$50,000 in software upgrade costs and is saving $20,000 annually by retiring its endpoint protection solution—valuable resources that it can apply toward boosting services for needy children everywhere. Situation
Save the Children is the leading independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. For more than 75 years, Save the Children has been helping children survive and thrive by improving their health, education, and economic opportunities and, in times of acute crisis, mobilizing rapid life-saving assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict, and natural disasters.
Save the Children U.S. is a member of the international Save the Children Alliance, a global network of 29 independent Save the Children organizations working to ensure the well-being and protection of children in more than 120 countries. Headquartered in two offices—Washington, D.C., and Westport, Connecticut—more than 500 Save the Children U.S. employees collaborate with their peers around the world to campaign for better practices and policies that support children and to build partnerships with communities, governments, and the private sector.
As a nonprofit, charitable organization, Save the Children U.S. funnels as much of its resources as possible into its core mission. Funding is always scarce for the 15 IT staff members who support the organization’s IT infrastructure. Of these 15 members, six help-desk staffers share the responsibility of managing a desktop infrastructure by using 80 percent mobile computers and 20 percent PCs. Employees rely on these computers, both in the office and in the field.
||By using Window Intune, we can save $20,000 a year in malware costs and $50,000 in Windows 7 licenses for staff at headquarters. That’s money we can funnel back into field programs that benefit children.
Senior Director of Technology, Save the Children U.S.
“At any given time, approximately 200 of our employees are out traveling the world, sometimes in very remote places,” says Ken Supersano, Senior Director of Technology at Save the Children U.S. “We have some people for whom the office is just a place to hang their hat; they spend most of their time traveling.”
Managing and securing the desktop for this highly mobile workforce was a challenge for Supersano and the help-desk staff. In 2007, Save the Children U.S. deployed an on-premises solution from a third-party provider to protect against malicious software (malware), but it proved too complex and unwieldy for the busy IT staff. “We just set the management server to its default settings and let it run,” says Supersano. “Of course, it didn’t work very well given that treatment; in three years I never received one malware alert. We tried to make up for these shortcomings with other third-party tools, which were freely available on the Internet.”
To distribute software updates, the IT staff used Windows Server Update Services, which requires an on-premises server and the care of a server administrator. “We simply didn’t have the IT resources to dedicate to these server-based solutions,” says Supersano. “We were running into some glaring issues around malware and Windows updates that we didn’t have the resources to solve. Even though we had no software-inventorying capabilities, we all knew that most of our PCs were not up-to-date.”
Employees working abroad inevitably returned to the office with computers infected with malware and behind in software updates. This meant that the help desk operated in a reactive mode, spending many hours manually reimaging and updating computers as they came back to the office.
IT staff also spent time distributing software to employees as they came into either of the offices. “Software distribution has always been a painful, manual process,” says Supersano. “IT staffers literally walked around to peoples’ desks to get the job done. With most of our folks working in the field, we had a lot of people with outdated software and no hope of standardizing everyone on the latest programs.”
However, it was the inability to provide robust remote support to people in the field that caused Supersano the most concern. Often, employees traveled to areas where their computers were exposed to different vulnerabilities. Sometimes the support desk could troubleshoot issues over the phone. Sometimes employees were able to get help from local IT personnel. But all these issues had a direct impact on the tools that staff members rely on to deliver services.
“The important work we do at Save the Children is not here at the home office, but out in the field,” says Supersano. “We have a responsibility to support the field, but if we are losing productivity because our IT solutions are not working for us, then that gets magnified down to the people who are trying to deliver services for children.” Solution
IT management at Save the Children U.S. began looking for the right technology to help the overworked IT team provide more proactive desktop management and remote support services to a global workforce. “We asked the question: ‘How do we fill in our gaps in IT personnel with cost-effective technology that helps our limited resources do the job of a larger department?’” says Supersano. “We found that technology with Windows Intune from Microsoft.”
Windows Intune is an end-to-end Microsoft solution that combines Windows cloud services for PC management and security with upgrade rights to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system. It also provides remote assistance, software updates, hardware and software tracking capabilities, and the ability to set security policies. Save the Children U.S. desktop-support staff can use a simple, web-based Administration console in Windows Intune to perform PC management tasks. All that is required is a standard Internet connection, a browser running Microsoft Silverlight, and the Windows Intune client software installed on the PCs that Save the Children U.S. wants to manage. Once the Windows Intune client software is installed on the PC and it is connected to the Internet, the client returns information on the PC, including software and hardware inventory, and endpoint protection and update status, to the Administration console.
As a cloud-based service, Windows Intune requires no upfront capital expenditure; instead, it is acquired through a cost-effective, scalable monthly subscription fee—an attractive option for a nonprofit organization. Save the Children International already endorsed cloud computing through its on-going global deployment of Microsoft Office 365. “I am sold on cloud computing,” says Supersano. “But Windows Intune was a new twist on the concept for us: infrastructure as a service as opposed to software as a service, so I was curious to see how it would work.”
||Now our IT staffers are just a couple of clicks away from distributing software to anyone, when and where it’s needed. It’s going to be game changing!
Senior Director of Technology, Save the Children U.S.
Supersano was also excited that Windows Intune includes an option to upgrade to Windows 7 Enterprise. “Upgrading our desktop operating system is a considerable expense that we had been putting off, so having a key software upgrade as part of the package was an easy benefit to sell,” he says. “And because Windows 7 is hardware agnostic, it means we can deploy it on our existing machines, deferring the cost of a hardware upgrade as well. The security feature that comes with the BitLocker feature in Windows 7 is an added bonus to protect the data on our highly mobile workforce’s computers.”
Save the Children U.S. began deploying Windows Intune in its two offices starting in July 2010. The desktop team deployed the agent to computers manually because they were also conducting an asset management project, which included tagging computers with barcodes and introducing a new help-desk system. “The deployment went very smoothly,” says Supersano. “We have installed the agent on almost 95 percent of our 500 computers; we are just waiting for a few folks to come into the office from overseas.”
Supersano is now looking forward to using the newest features available for Windows Intune, which include the ability to distribute software and perform full computer scans on PCs managed by Windows Intune. “Now our IT staffers are just a couple of clicks away from distributing software to anyone, when and where it’s needed,” says Supersano. “It’s going to be game changing!”Benefits
Today, Windows Intune is the only tool that Supersano and support-desk personnel need to help ensure the security and reliability of all desktops at Save the Children U.S. The organization benefits from reduced costs and an IT staff that can deliver better support to its employees. The Save the Children U.S. workforce now has more reliable computing tools to realize the organization’s vision. “Windows Intune is proving itself every day,” says Supersano. “We see better productivity in the office and in the field. I’m going to promote it to Save the Children International: a global community of 15,000 people. Right now, the next steps are to introduce it to another 250 people who work in the United States as part of our field organization, probably in 2012.”
Reduced IT Costs by $70,000
Since deploying Windows Intune, Save the Children U.S. is saving IT costs that it can reallocate to more strategic initiatives within the organization. “We are saving money by retiring our McAfee solution, reducing infrastructure and the time we need to manage servers,” says Supersano. “Also, we no longer have to renew our subscriptions and maintenance contracts with other malware tools that we added along the way. By using Window Intune, we can save [U.S.]$20,000 a year in malware costs and $50,000 in Windows 7 licenses for staff at headquarters. That’s money we can funnel back into field programs that benefit children. That adds up to about $70,000 a year.”
Empowered IT to Deliver Better Support
Today, help-desk staff uses the combined capabilities of Windows Intune to better manage PCs, provide endpoint protection, and support employees in the field. They are working in the Windows Intune Administration console every day. “For the first time, we can provide proactive monitoring and automate the delivery of security updates and software upgrades. We are keeping our managed PCs as secure and up-to-date as possible, whether they are in use in Africa, Asia, or the United States, so we are seeing a reduction in support calls,” says Supersano. “And Windows Intune is so much easier than our previous solutions that our entry-level help-desk staffers are completely comfortable using it. We are resolving issues more quickly, often before the end user is aware of it.”
Supersano is thrilled that the department is fulfilling its proper role to support employees so that they can do their work. “The more remote tasks we can do on our managed PCs the better for everyone at Save the Children,” he concludes. “With the capabilities in Windows Intune, like performing full scans or restarting peoples’ laptops, our IT staff is empowered to provide the same level of support as if the machine was right there in front of them. Windows Intune has raised the bar of how far we can go in IT to support the valuable work that Save the Children U.S. performs every day.” Windows Intune
Windows Intune simplifies how businesses manage and secure PCs using Microsoft cloud services and Windows 7, so your computers and users can operate at peak performance from almost anywhere. You can provide a better experience for your workforce that's easier to manage by standardizing your PCs on Windows 7 Enterprise or on an earlier version of Windows—it’s your choice. Windows Intune fits your business by providing a comprehensive desktop solution that gives you big tech results with a small tech investment.
For more information about Windows Intune, go to:For More Information
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