Allina Hospitals & Clinics recently upgraded to Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 to gain efficiencies in securing and managing its 27,000 PCs. Allina has cut security remediation time in half, giving IT staff more time to help employees deliver patient care. This time savings represents a U.S.$25,000 annual productivity gain. Allina saved another $97,000 by eliminating 10 servers because of the new software’s efficient design.Business Needs
Allina Hospitals & Clinics is a major healthcare presence in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. The Minneapolis-based nonprofit provides lifelong healthcare through 11 hospitals, 47 clinics, 55 affiliated clinics and specialty centers, 15 pharmacies, and 3 ambulatory care centers. It employs nearly 24,000 people.
Allina has a staff of 50 people dedicated to keeping its 27,000 client computers up, running, secure, and meeting the needs of Allina healthcare professionals. The company is upgrading those PCs to the Windows 7 operating system and uses Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3 to standardize PC configuration, monitor PC power consumption, and maximize application uptime and employee productivity.
The company has also steadily strengthened desktop security, which is especially critical because employees deal with patient data and other confidential information. Allina was one of the earliest users of Microsoft security software. “We liked the idea of using Microsoft security software, because it took advantage of many of our infrastructure assets such as Active Directory and Group Policy,” says Andrew Julian, Lead Operating Systems Programmer in the Desktop Technology Group at Allina Hospitals & Clinics. “When we moved to Microsoft antivirus software, we saw a huge reduction in the number of virus outbreaks and the staff needed to support security.”
In 2006, Allina upgraded to Microsoft Forefront Client Security and experienced even greater virus reductions while also gaining better reporting. However, the one complaint was the need to go into System Center Configuration Manager to implement remediation packages. “At least we were able to create and distribute these repair packages remotely from a central console, but this was still a separate step that was time consuming enough to require a full-time staff member,” Julian says. “Time we’re spending on PC incidents is time not spent supporting our healthcare workers, our priority.” Solution
In mid-2010, Allina joined an early adopter program for Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010, the successor to Forefront Client Security, which connects to System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 and R3 to deploy and manage endpoint protection. “We really liked the fact that Forefront Endpoint Protection was integrated with System Center Configuration Manager,” Julian says. “This was just the linkage we needed to streamline security remediation work.”
||By using Forefront Endpoint Protection, we’re resolving security issues faster and more thoroughly. We’ve freed up staff time to devote to other issues, such as helping employees help patients.
Lead Operating Systems Programmer, Desktop Technology Group, Allina Hospitals & Clinics
Julian’s team deployed Forefront Endpoint Protection to all 27,000 PCs in about 20 minutes—a huge time savings over the two days required to install its predecessor. “Before, we had to get the server and database teams involved in installing Forefront Client Security, but with System Center Configuration Manager doing all the work, we performed the installation ourselves very quickly,” Julian explains. A serendipitous discovery was the fact that Forefront Endpoint Protection could run on a single management server and did not require its own server infrastructure.
With Forefront Client Security, Julian’s team had to figure out how to target a security issue and then manually package and deploy software to fix it. Forefront Endpoint Protection identifies the malicious software, and System Center Configuration Manager automatically identifies the PCs fitting the profile of the system attacked. The security team then distributes the remediation to all those computers at once. “It’s more efficient, because I’m not taking a bunch of extra steps to find out I have an issue and then manually implementing remediation to dozens of computers,” Julian says.Benefits
Since deploying Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010, Allina Hospitals & Clinics is fixing security issues twice as fast and has halved the staff resources needed to perform this task. IT staff now have more time to support healthcare-related needs. Allina has also trimmed server costs by U.S.$97,000.
Remediation Time Halved, More Time to Focus on Healthcare
With Forefront Endpoint Protection, Allina has cut an hour out of each security-incident remediation, essentially cutting the process in half. “By using Forefront Endpoint Protection, we’re resolving security issues faster and more thoroughly,” Julian says. “We’ve freed up staff time to devote to other issues, such as helping employees help patients,” Julian says. “Integrating Forefront Endpoint Protection with System Center Configuration Manager brings security management to one place.”
The Allina desktop security team also has a better sense of how many PCs are protected, how long they have or have not been protected, whether or not PC security signatures are up-to-date, whether policies are applied, and what types of malware (malicious software) are getting in. It also has an automated mechanism to remediate the problems, eliminating manual effort. “Any time we can cut down on time spent in one area, we have more time to spend on other projects,” Julian says.Productivity Gain of $25,000, Savings of $97,000
Since deploying Forefront Endpoint Protection, Allina has been able to save half of a full-time employee’s time, worth $25,000 annually. “We have moved to a security product that is more integrated with our PC management solution, and this helps us reduce infrastructure, complexity, and staff resources,” Julian says.
Allina also reaped an unexpected savings in hardware due to the lightweight architecture of Forefront Endpoint Protection. “We were able to remove 10 servers from our security infrastructure, a savings of $97,000 in hardware, software, and maintenance,” Julian says. “Forefront Endpoint Protection runs on our two existing System Center Configuration Manager servers. That was a benefit that we didn’t see coming.”
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