The three radio stations within the CN Group did not have IT staff to manage PCs and support employees. The Group worked with IT reseller Softcat to deploy Windows Intune, a cloud-based PC management service from Microsoft, avoiding the cost
of hiring a full-time IT staff member for the stations. It can now establish best practices in PC management and security while keeping its PCs well-protected and up-to-date.
The CN Group is based in Carlisle in northern England. Its printing division, Cumbrian Newspapers, publishes community newspapers in the counties of Cumbria and Northumberland, and in the southwest of Scotland. The Group also operates three radio stations.
The Group has a four-person IT department that is responsible for the print division; however, the radio stations lacked IT staff to support the approximately 90 employees working there. Instead, broadcast engineers provided local, hands-on IT support in
addition to their work maintaining the stations’ broadcast systems.
“The radio stations are not connected to the Cumbrian Newspapers wide area network. The broadcast engineers had no desktop software management tools and there were no standard IT management practices or hardware and software purchases,” says Brian Pennington,
Director of IT at Cumbrian Newspapers. “Support calls took longer than necessary because the engineers had to figure out what was on the computer. Laptops used by reporters and sales staff in the field were not kept up-to-date with security patches, and employees
were hampered by malicious software that passed through the antivirus solution that we had deployed.”
The Group wanted to standardize IT practices and improve desktop management in the radio division, without having to pay for the full-time employee that it estimated would be required to do the job properly. “We needed an easy-to-use tool that IT staff in
the print division could use to manage the desktop and introduce standard IT governance for the radio stations,” says Pennington. “We wanted to incorporate the tool into our daily work without impacting productivity.”
The Group found the right solution in September 2011 when Pennington saw a demonstration of Windows Intune, a cloud-based PC management solution from Microsoft. Windows Intune combines desktop management, endpoint protection, remote assistance, software
delivery, and hardware and software tracking capabilities. IT staff in the print division can use a simple, web-based
||The power of Windows Intune is that I can easily manage more than 70 computers in three remote locations from our headquarters in Carlisle. All it takes is an Internet connection.
| Brian Pennington
Director of IT, CN Group
Administration console in Windows Intune to run PC management tasks for the radio stations remotely through a standard Internet connection, a browser running Microsoft Silverlight, and the Windows Intune client software installed on the managed PCs. The Windows
Intune client returns information on the PC to the Administration console.
“I saw immediately that Windows Intune would be a great tool for remote PC management at the radio stations,” says Pennington. “When I was asked to add IT management for the radio division to the responsibilities of the IT staff at the print division, I
was able to say, ‘I’ve found the solution we need—it works via the Internet, with no need for VPNs [virtual private networks] or expensive capital outlay.”
The Group worked with Softcat, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network with Gold competencies, to understand the software licensing model for Windows Intune, which includes upgrade rights to the latest Windows operating system.
“Softcat is our preferred partner for licensing and its cloud services team was very good at helping me understand the full value of the product so I could sell Windows Intune to the business,” adds Pennington. “Thanks to Softcat’s involvement at the beginning,
we rapidly built our business case and moved ahead quickly with deployment.”
The Group subscribed to 80 Windows Intune licenses and is introducing the Windows 7 operating system to the business gradually. “At the print division, we used Windows Intune to inventory the radio stations’ hardware and software, perform license reconciliations,
determine what security updates were needed, and replace the previous antivirus solution,” says Pennington. “We have now extended our deployment to include mobile devices deployed in the print division.”
With Windows Intune, the Group solved a desktop management shortfall at the radio stations and delivered tangible benefits to staff working there and to the Group itself. These benefits include:
Reduced costs. For the Group, Windows Intune is a cost-effective tool to manage and help secure computers at the radio stations. “With Windows Intune, we made our IT funds go further, saving the equivalent of a full-time employee’s salary,”
Improved proactive support. Using the Administration console, Pennington configures security and management alerts to be sent to the broadcast engineers so that they can solve issues before they impact employee productivity. “The power of
Windows Intune is that I can easily manage more than 70 computers in three remote locations from our headquarters in Carlisle. All it takes is an Internet connection,” says Pennington. “We can also provide support more quickly because we know what’s on each
Established IT governance. The Group uses Windows Intune to establish best practices in PC management policies across all radio stations. “Now we can set security and management policies that ensure a higher standard of user experience and
productivity for radio staff,” says Pennington.
Gained a planning tool. With Windows Intune, the Group gains unprecedented visibility into hardware and software inventory at the radio stations. The new reporting tool takes the guesswork out of planning its hardware refresh and Windows
7 upgrade program and improves IT budgeting.
Improved security. Today, radio station staff members are more confident that their computers are protected and up-to-date. “It was a big thing to deliver security updates to everyone’s computers,” says Pennington. “Some required dozens
of updates, but almost immediately, we had a better managed, more secure desktop for the radio stations. Windows Intune was the right tool at the right time.”
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