Aga Khan University (AKU) provides training and education to medical students in Afghanistan, East Africa, Egypt, Pakistan, Syria, and the United Kingdom. Its facilities include teaching hospitals, nursing schools, a medical college, the Institute for Educational Development, an examination board, and an Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations.
It's imperative that the organization provides a modern, seamless IT service to both patients and students, and, as part of this, it must ensure its network is secure from malicious attacks. Until March 2009, AKU used third-party antivirus solutions, but the software wasn't a good fit for the organization. Jawed Deshmukh, Director of IT at Aga Khan University, says: "With our existing software, we found it hard to keep our systems virus-free."
This led to several problems, including one incident that was particularly damaging for the organization. "A denial of service attack took us around 38 hours to remove. None of our users could access any network resources during that time," Deshmukh says.
AKU tried a MacAfee solution, but found this difficult to manage. Deshmukh says: "Sometimes it blocked a mail server or a user account when it shouldn't have. Employees complained that their work was frequently interrupted with intrusive prompts to update."
The IT help desk received up to 15 calls a week, which distracted employees from their higher value strategic work. Deshmukh says: "It could take my team members up to a week to resolve an issue, when their time could have been spent refining other technical services."
Deshmukh wanted to deploy reliable antivirus software, but didn't want to contribute to his team's workload. "The AKU network spans 7,000 user accounts, 5,500 e-mail clients, and 3,500 desktop computers. To install the software manually would be too much work. We wanted to find an easier way," says Deshmukh.
In March 2009, AKU chose to replace its existing software with Microsoft Forefront Security Suite, which provides unified virus and spyware protection for business desktop and portable computers, and server operating systems. The organization also deployed the Windows 7 operating system, and is using its security tools, such as BitLocker To Go, to protect sensitive data.
Deshmukh says: "We looked at other providers, but it was clear Microsoft was a good fit for our business. Users and the IT team are familiar with Microsoft - we've developed a good working relationship with the company, and Forefront Security Suite offered value for money."
Deshmukh and his team used Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 to deploy the antivirus software. "With this, we could install the software on all machines remotely. We successfully implemented Forefront Security Suite across the entire network in three months," says Deshmukh. The software integrated seamlessly with the other Microsoft solutions in use by AKU.
Forefront Security Suite provides centralized administration tools, and Deshmukh's team can now manage all security tasks from one location. In addition, drill-down reporting capabilities provide consistently updated security information for assessing the security state across the organization, and a customizable alerts feature warns the team when the system is presented with an external threat.
AKU can view reports on a dashboard, which keep the IT team up to date with any information it needs about the security situation, such as state assessment scans and security alerts. The organization can now also set up customized alerts that warn the IT team if the system is facing an external threat.
Since deploying the solution, AKU has enjoyed greater network stability, and Deshmukh is confident that the organization is better protected against damaging attacks. This has resulted in fewer help desk calls, freeing employees to focus on improving the IT infrastructure.
- Calls to the IT help desk have been reduced by more than 66 per cent. Complaints about viruses or the antivirus software are significantly lower. "We receive fewer than five help desk calls a week," says Deshmukh. "When you consider we used to receive 15 calls a week, it's clear that Forefront Security Suite is an effective solution."
- Time spent on user support and troubleshooting has been cut by 80 per cent a year. The IT team's workload has become more manageable. "Rather than spending a whole week solving problems, we can now focus on improving the IT infrastructure. Since deploying Forefront Security Suite, we've had the time to start new implementation projects," says Deshmukh.
- The organization is better protected against unplanned downtime. Deshmukh says: "We haven't had a major virus outbreak since deploying Forefront Security Suite." It also integrates more smoothly with the IT infrastructure than the previous solutions. "We're no longer seeing corrupt files in e-mail servers, or user accounts being blocked. It all works exactly as we expect it to," says Deshmukh.
- Installation and maintenance has been simplified. Deploying and updating antivirus software is much easier than ever before. "To deploy Forefront Security Suite across the entire network required just two people," says Deshmukh. Updates can also be rolled out across the entire system quickly.
- Critical data is more secure with Windows 7. AKU is using the tools included in Windows 7 to protect its data more effectively. BitLocker To Go is used to encrypt data on portable drives, such as USB memory sticks, and it is easier for the IT team to manage group policy.
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