About SNT Deutschland AG
Founded in Frankfurt am Main in 1994, SNT Deutschland AG is a marketing and customer services agency with 4,600 employees and eight locations across Germany. The company works in more than 20 languages, and has experience in industry sectors including telecommunications, financial services, utilities, healthcare, publishing and consumer products.
SNT Deutschland has achieved year-on-year growth since its foundation in 1994. Its IT landscape has expanded to support this growth, and the company now has more than 4,000 desktop PCs at its eight main sites, which are located throughout Germany.
"We were using a Microsoft SMS solution to manage our systems, but it had a number of limitations which became increasingly apparent as the business grew," said Uwe Krauskopf, Manager-IT Operations at SNT Deutschland. "We wanted to find a simpler, faster way of managing our PCs, especially in terms of installing new machines and distributing software to our users."
Setting up a new PC with the existing solution could take up to two hours, and rolling out specific applications to individual users was a complex and time-consuming proposition. Even basic IT management processes could often require the use of numerous different tools. The company wanted a simpler solution that would offer a single point of control.
SNT Deutschland evaluated solutions from vendors including CA, FrontRange, IBM, Matrix42, Microsoft and Novell.
"Novell ZENworks Configuration Management seemed like the best choice from a functional point of view: its policy-driven software distribution features were exactly what we were looking for," said Krauskopf. "Also, the cost of the software was very similar to what we were paying for the existing solution, so we decided to proceed."
To keep implementation costs low, the company's in-house IT team decided to run the project in parallel with their normal duties—migrating small groups of users over a period of time, instead of aiming for a 'big bang' approach. By the end of 2009, the IT team had increased the number of users in the Novell ZENworks® environment to approximately 1,000. Ultimately, the system should manage up to 4,000 PCs across the company.
"During the implementation phase, we have to create standardized packages for all the different applications that each of our teams requires," said Krauskopf. "There are between 100 and 200 different packages in total, so it's a big job. But the good thing is, once we have created a package, it can be reused as many times as we need it: instead of building a specific configuration from scratch, we simply use Novell ZENworks to deploy the right packages and the user is ready to go."
Recently, the company has also started using Novell ZENworks Application Virtualization for temporary application deployment, or for certain specific tasks.
"For example, sometimes the IT team wants to run different versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer on the same PC," said Krauskopf. "Previously this was simply not possible. Now, with Novell ZENworks Application Virtualization, we can deploy any combination of applications in separate virtual machines on a single PC, and remove them cleanly when they are no longer needed. This gives us a lot of flexibility."
Novell ZENworks Configuration Management enables the SNT Deutschland IT team to deploy software to individual users' PCs on an 'on demand' basis—providing considerably greater flexibility than the previous solution, which could only perform rollouts according to a predefined schedule.
"With the old solution, it could take up to two hours to install a new application, and each deployment had to be planned in advance," said Krauskopf. "Novell ZENworks Configuration Management can get the same job done in just 30 minutes, without any planning. If a user needs a specific application immediately, we can respond much more quickly."
Another advantage of the new solution is the simple user interface that the Novell ZENworks software provides.
"We used to use a variety of tools to manage our desktop PCs, so we were constantly switching between different interfaces and it was difficult to keep track of what we were doing," said Krauskopf. "Novell ZENworks Configuration Management provides a single, simple interface and a central point of control for software distribution, giving us a clear view of the status of all our computers and saving a huge amount of time for the IT team."
Looking to the future, SNT Deutschland aims to finish the rollout of Novell ZENworks Configuration Management, and extend the use of Novell ZENworks Application Virtualization. The company is also evaluating Novell ZENworks Patch Management, which could be used to manage software updates for the company's Linux servers.