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With a small IT staff and a limited budget, Sesame Workshop needed innovative ways to manage its growing IT environment. The company implemented Novell ZENworks Asset Management to reduce inventory administration time by 70 percent and leveraged SUSE Linux Enterprise Server to consolidate Web servers by 80 percent.

Overview

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization that changed television forever with the legendary Sesame Street. As the single largest informal educator of young children, local Sesame Street programs produced in countries as diverse as South Africa, Bangladesh and India are making a difference in more than 120 nations.

Challenge

As a nonprofit organization, Sesame Workshop leases most of its desktops, laptops and servers. Manually tracking its hardware and software inventory was time-consuming for a small IT staff. Sesame Workshop wanted to streamline inventory and asset management to free up its IT staff and properly manage its leasing contracts.

Sesame Workshop hosts nearly 50 consumer Web sites, many with large volumes of media content, thousands of concurrent users and more than one million unique visitors per month. Facing increasing hardware and software licensing costs with Sun Solaris and Microsoft Windows, the company evaluated a move to Linux.

Solution

Working with ITAM Services, Sesame Workshop selected Novell ZENworks Asset Management to streamline its inventory processes, and selected SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as the open platform for its Web architecture.

“Novell ZENworks Asset Management is a good fit for us because it works across our multiple platforms including UNIX, Windows, Linux and Macintosh,” said Noah Broadwater, vice president of Information Services at Sesame Workshop. “We tested several solutions and found that Novell ZENworks Asset Management doesn’t place a big burden on our network like other solutions. We are getting great performance.”

Sesame Workshop implemented Novell ZENworks Asset Management and within days of receiving a shipment of new equipment had everything inventoried and ready to distribute. The IT staff used Novell ZENworks to install software based on the user's identity and role within the organization. Novell ZENworks Asset Management then tracks the software on each machine and alerts the IT staff if users try to install unauthorized software.

“With ZENworks Asset Management, we know exactly what is installed and where,” said Broadwater. “Having a real-time inventory makes it easy for us to comply with software licensing requirements, as well as our leasing schedules.”

Sesame Workshop is currently relaunching many of its Web sites and is replacing its Sun Solaris, Microsoft Windows and Debian servers with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. To date, the company has already seen dramatic improvement in its Web performance as its home page load time decreased by 130 percent.

“Instead of paying for proprietary hardware with UNIX, we can now get competitive pricing from all the major x86 hardware vendors,” said Broadwater. “Moving to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server gives us the same reliability and performance as UNIX, as well as the option to run whatever open source tools best fit our business. The cost savings from Linux are incredible.”

With an open platform, Sesame Workshop is taking advantage of a host of open source software including MySQL, Apache Tomcat, Alfresco, Joomla and Liferay. Using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with built-in Xen virtualization, the company can easily configure virtual Web servers to run multiple Web sites, and no longer requires several physical servers per Web site.

“We estimate that we are doing with 12 servers what most companies do with 100,” said Broadwater. “We are huge advocates of open source which defies the industry adage that you can never get cheap, fast and good. As a nonprofit organization, we have to be innovative with a limited budget.”

Sesame Workshop also uses Novell identity and security management solutions to provide its 10,000 users with personalized access to its intranet. Novell Access Manager authenticates employees and partners to its portal, based on user information stored in Novell eDirectory. Novell Identity Manager automatically synchronizes user information across disparate applications so users have single sign-on access to everything in the portal including e-mail, HR applications and dozens of databases.

Results

By implementing Novell ZENworks Asset Management, Sesame Workshop reduced inventory administration time by 70 percent and can better comply with auditing requests and leasing contracts.

The company moved its Web infrastructure to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for a cost 85 percent less than that of a proprietary UNIX and Windows solution. Consolidating Web servers by 80 percent with Xen virtualization has reduced hardware costs by 30 percent. By leveraging open source software, the company has dramatically reduced its software costs, contributing to an overall IT budget reduction of 18 percent.

“Without Novell solutions, we would need to increase our IT budget every year by at least $1 million,” said Broadwater. “Just as Sesame Workshop innovates in media and entertainment, we try to innovate in IT. Novell gives us the tools to compete with our bigger competitors, but without the huge price tag.”



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