American Water Enterprises (AWE) needed better tools to secure and manage approximately 450 computers used in field offices and remote locations. AWE subscribed to Windows Intune, a cloud-based PC management, endpoint protection, and remote assistance
service from Microsoft. It reduced the number of computers with out-of-date virus protection by 40 percent and gained visibility into the desktop to provide better support for staff.
Incorporated in 1992, American Water Enterprises (AWE) has four lines of business: service-line protection programs for residential buildings; municipal and community on-site water systems; water and wastewater management for military bases; and a water
reuse business in Canada. AWE operates as a subsidiary of American Water, a public utility company.
“To win business, we have to make competitive bids, so our margins are tight,” says Jacqueline Reader, Senior IT Manager at American Water Enterprises. “In IT, we are always looking for ways to keep our costs down.”
Approximately 200 AWE PCs that are attached to the parent company’s network are managed by American Water; however, AWE IT staff had no tools or method to reach the remaining 450 computers used at approximately 70 locations in the United States and Canada.
AWE uses a Citrix virtual desktop infrastructure solution and its servers are hosted by a third-party provider. “We can’t get to the desktop, because it’s sitting on a server in the hosting environment and we don’t use split tunneling,” says Reader. “With
no local support at our locations, computers are regularly shipped to headquarters to be fixed.”
AWE used McAfee Security-as-a-Service for antivirus protection, but approximately 45 percent of its computers had outdated virus protection. “We tried a variety of tools for remote assistance, but some of them didn’t comply with our customers’ security policies,”
says Steve Corbin, IT Manager for American Water Enterprises Canada.
When employees in the field inspect installations, they need reliable, secure portable computers so that they can access their geographic information systems application, which provides a map of pipes and underground infrastructure, their computerized maintenance
management systems, and their work order systems. “We want to boost employee mobility and enable them to bring their own devices to the field, but first we have to be able to secure those devices,” says Corbin.
To simplify endpoint management, American Water Enterprises turned to a cloud-based desktop management service from Microsoft called Windows Intune. A cost-effective, consolidated tool that’s available on a monthly subscription basis, Windows Intune
combines software distribution, Microsoft software update services, endpoint protection, remote assistance, and software and hardware inventory tracking with upgrade rights to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system. To deliver Windows Intune desktop management
services, AWE IT professionals can use the Windows Intune web-based Administration console. All that they need is an Internet connection, the Windows Intune client software installed on each PC, and a browser enabled with Microsoft Silverlight.
||Windows Intune is more than just endpoint management: it’s also about empowering our staff to work productively with the device of their choice, when and where they need to.
| Jacqueline Reader
Senior IT Manager, American Water Enterprises
“In early 2011, I went to a conference with a colleague from American Water and saw a presentation on Windows Intune,” says Reader. “We were impressed at how the Microsoft team made the effort to understand our needs as a non-regulated company and pointed out
the benefits that Windows Intune could bring to us.”
In June 2011, Corbin deployed the agent to 25 computers across the company in a pilot project. “It was an easy deployment and we did some snapshot inventories and remote support. I reported back to Jacquie that everything worked great and suggested we move
By October 2011, AWE had purchased 250 licenses and deployed Windows Intune to 250 PCs and laptops in United States and Canada. By 2013, AWE expects to deploy Windows Intune to 650 computers. By using the Mobile Device Management feature available in the
latest Windows Intune release, IT staff can manage any device that has Exchange ActiveSync capabilities. AWE is also looking into plans to introduce a “bring your own device” policy.
Before it deployed Windows Intune, American Water Enterprises did not have an economical way to manage and secure its desktop. By turning to a cloud-based solution, AWE avoided infrastructure costs while empowering IT staff with unprecedented visibility
into the health of all PCs and laptops.
Once AWE completes the Windows Intune deployment, it won’t have to ship every new computer to headquarters to finish loading required software onto the machine. “When we can order and ship our hardware to the location where it’s needed and use Windows
Intune to finish the install, we anticipate reducing our shipping costs by as much as 50 percent,” says Reader.
Enhances Endpoint Security
AWE is confident that the 250 computers that IT staff manages with Windows Intune are more up-to-date and secure than ever before. “We reduced the percentage of computers that are not running up-to-date antivirus software from 45 to 5 percent,” says
Corbin. “Now I can request that computers receive automatic updates, and I can tell when they are successfully updated. It’s peace of mind for me.”
Improves Remote Support
Corbin and technicians working for the help desk report that Windows Intune is a superior remote support tool. Instead of shipping computers back to the head office for repairs, which results in days of inconvenience for employees, IT staff use Windows
Intune for remote diagnostics and issue resolution.
“Windows Intune is a more secure support tool, because the employee has to initiate the request,” says Corbin. “Compared to other tools, it’s very easy to use and has provided access to employees where I’ve not had before.”
Improves Mobility, Employee Productivity
Now that IT staff can use Windows Intune to manage more mobile devices, AWE field staff can choose the device that works best for them. “Windows Intune is more than just endpoint management: it’s also about empowering our staff to work productively with
the device of their choice, when and where they need to,” says Reader.
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