To augment its established offerings, Ai3 searched for a cloud-based system management solution. The French IT services firm ultimately selected Windows Intune, an all-in-one PC management and security solution. Now, Ai3 can pursue new revenue opportunities by providing a comprehensive services-based offering that includes threat detection, software update management, and inventory tracking features—all through a single subscription. Business Needs
Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Ai3 specializes in providing software and services deployment, training, and technical support to companies with limited IT resources. To accommodate mobile workers and reduce infrastructure costs, many of its customers are considering cloud services for delivery of key productivity and infrastructure workloads, such as communication and collaboration and PC management.
Leaders at Ai3 recognized an opportunity to offer comprehensive desktop management capabilities in conjunction with its application hosting services. A number of Ai3 customers lack tools for tracking software and hardware inventory. Without the ability to obtain this information in a consolidated way, it can be difficult for companies to ensure licensing compliance. “Most customers find it very hard to tell us how many of their computers are running Microsoft Office 2003 versus Microsoft Office 2007, for example,” says Aziz Belaid, an IT Infrastructure Consultant at Ai3.
This lack of visibility also makes it more challenging for IT departments to proactively manage updates, identify software gaps, and better protect PCs from malware (malicious software). These tasks become increasingly complicated when companies have customers with large remote and mobile workforces. Ai3 wanted to find an efficient solution for securing and managing computers to help the growing number of its customers with remote employees who log on to corporate networks only occasionally.
By helping customers optimize PC performance and strengthen protection against malware and other threats, Ai3 leaders identified an opportunity to expand the company’s services offerings, increase opportunities for recurring revenue, and extend relationships with customers beyond the initial deployment cycle. In addition, Ai3 knew that helping customers to simplify and standardize their IT environments would keep its own support and maintenance costs low. Solution
In early 2010, Ai3 learned about Windows Intune software and services, a cloud-based solution that combines remote monitoring of desktop environments with a Windows 7 Enterprise operating system subscription. Before preparing to extend this offering to its customers, the company began using Windows Intune to manage 15 computers in its own environment.
||Before, we devoted about five hours a week to monitoring and updating PCs. Now, we spend a maximum of one hour a week on PC management tasks, because Windows Intune makes everything so much easier.
IT Infrastructure Consultant, Ai3
Company leaders noted how easy it was to get started. IT staff simply set up a Windows Intune account, downloaded the client software through the administration console, and deployed it to each computer in the managed group. This streamlined process can help IT services providers save time while helping customers minimize upfront investment costs. From the console interface, staff can see alerts and health status information for its PCs, set security policies, access remote assistance tools, and track software and hardware inventory data.
The company’s IT team used the console to view the update status of each PC in the managed group, assign new software and security updates for distribution, and deploy these packages—all in just a few clicks. This feature helps administrators ensure that desktop systems are running the most current updates, which creates a standardized network configuration that is both more secure and easier to manage. “We’ve found that companies that don’t have uniformity in their PC environment have a greater need for help-desk support,” says Belaid. “By making it easier to standardize on Windows 7 and centrally manage such functions as updates, remote assistance, and inventory tracking, Windows Intune can help IT administrators spend less time on support and more time on other critical tasks.”Benefits
By adopting Windows Intune, Ai3 has experienced the following benefits:
Saves 20 hours a week on computer management. Because Belaid’s team now uses the Windows Intune administration console to deploy updates, configure security settings, and see health status and alert information, it saves up to 20 hours a week on PC management tasks. “Before, we devoted about five hours a week to monitoring and updating PCs,” says Belaid. “Now, we spend a maximum of one hour a week on PC management tasks, because Windows Intune makes everything so much easier.”
Trims support costs through remote assistance. By using the remote management and security features of Windows Intune, Ai3 can help customers troubleshoot and resolve PC issues more quickly, without the need for costly site visits. “We don’t have to travel to customer sites to keep their computers secure and up-to-date with current software. With this standardization, we expect our support costs to decrease while we enable greater customer productivity,” says Belaid.
Expands customer base. Windows Intune provides a flexible way for companies to gain powerful PC management capabilities while taking advantage of the security and productivity enhancements in the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system. Ai3 projects rapid expansion of its customer base in 2011 and beyond, based on the ability to incorporate Windows Intune into its solution portfolio.
“With the web-based console in Windows Intune, we can manage customers’ computers from our office or from the field. And their remote employees’ computers will get updated automatically online, not just over the corporate network,” says Belaid. “The ability to offer this service will be good for our business—and theirs.”
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