About Uppsala University
Uppsala University (Uppsala Universitet) is an internationally prominent Swedish research university that is a world leader in many fields. The University is made up of dynamic and independent disciplines at nine faculties, with over 40,000 full-time students served by 6,500 full-time staff.
The 10 campuses at Uppsala University were faced with an IT maintenance challenge. Because the University’s IT infrastructure is largely decentralised, each campus is responsible for managing its own IT environment. This presented a configuration management pain point, as there was no way to tally up the exact number of devices connected to the network, or to ensure that they were installed with the most up-to-date patches and updates.
"The Department of Government has been using ZENworks® for some time, but there was no university-wide solution,” said Peter Knutar, an IT Manager at Uppsala University. “Our software was going out of support, so rather than upgrading, we decided to try to find a common platform that all campuses could utilise. Because of the decentralised IT structure, the new solution also needed to be approved by the university’s other campuses.”
The campus at Gamla Torget opened a dialogue with both the central IT department and the other campuses, with the aim of agreeing on a single platform. Working together, the campuses decided to call in three vendors for proof-of-concept presentations.
“We invited Symantec, Microsoft and Novell (now a part of Micro Focus) to give us a two-day, hands-on demonstration of their software,” said Mr Knutar. “This gave us the opportunity to discover which platform best suited our needs. It was very interesting to see how each environment looked, and how the respective teams approached the task of installing and demonstrating their system.”
After observing how all the vendors acquitted themselves in the two-day proof-of-concept, the group decided which of the solutions best met their criteria.
“Ultimately, we chose ZENworks 11, as its web-based administration capability could cater to our decentralised organisational structure,” said Mr Knutar. “In addition, ZENworks manages users as well as devices, runs on both Windows and Linux servers, and can patch our critical non-Microsoft applications. It also supports the three main environments in use across the University—Microsoft Windows, Linux and Apple OS X—and offered the smallest server footprint.”
One of the project’s important goals was knowledge transfer. For this reason, the university had intensive discussions with us about design and implementation, and then set up the solution entirely in-house.
“After the planning phase was complete, the solution implementation was finished within a couple of weeks,” said Mr Knutar. “While this process was ongoing, we designed an introductory course together with Kompetensnavet, one of the leading Training Partners in Sweden. This year, we have trained forty system administrators from a number of different departments to use the software.”
This decentralized approach based on knowledge transfer has given the University’s campuses a unique possibility to work both individually at a local level and co-operatively at a shared level. Each administrator can manage their local resources while contributing to and benefiting from the knowledge that is built up centrally.
Application virtualization from ZENworks has reduced the IT personnel’s workload considerably. “Different student labs require many different applications,” noted Henrik Hedlund, IT Manager at the Department of Information Technology at Uppsala University. “Thanks to ZENworks, we can provision the necessary applications to the correct users or devices with a couple of mouse clicks. Application virtualization has also greatly simplified the process of updating applications.”
Since implementing ZENworks 11, the participating campuses at Uppsala University have gained better visibility and control over their desktops.
“Today, we have approximately 800 assets at three campuses managed by ZENworks, and expect to expand to 1,500 assets at six campuses by the end of the year,” said Mr Knutar. “Many processes are now automated, which has helped us to significantly increase the quality of our IT service, as well as reduce yearly maintenance workloads by one full-time equivalent. Most importantly, ZENworks has enabled a group of IT managers to co-operate in ways we have never seen before.”
With ZENworks, each campus can manage the patching, upgrading and maintenance of its IT assets from a common tool in an integrated infrastructure—at once offering management autonomy to individual campuses and greatly reducing the total system administration workload.
After a pilot of the ZENworks solution at Gamla Torget, other campuses and departments are now working together to build a common administrative platform. “We’re very excited about the capabilities that ZENworks has offered us,” said Peter Knutar. “By rolling out ZENworks in other campuses at the University, we’re confident that we’ll be able to offer our administrative staff, researchers, and teachers the robust, secure and reliable IT platform they need to provide the highest level of service, research, and teaching to our students.”