Keeping tabs on everything is hard for IT teams managing large, sprawling and disparate IT estates. There are old machines to update, staff suffering from slow PCs and all manner of devices and licences in use.
Newcastle City Council was one such organisation grappling with these problems, but the organisation has seen huge improvements since turning to monitoring software from Nexthink to help oversee its IT estate.
The project began life at the end of last year when a decision was made to trial the software on 4,700 staff devices, as Joe Bradshaw, senior ICT solutions analyst at Newcastle City Council, explained to V3.
“The head of service [at the council] became aware of Nexthink and, via reseller S2Gov, we set about deploying it as a proof-of-concept on just shy of 4,700 Windows-based machines based across numerous offices,” he said.
The council deployed the Nexthink V6 software to monitor IT infrastructure and report on end-user devices, covering aspects including performance, failures, crashes and security problems.
The initial plan was to trial the software for a month over Christmas, but this was extended to 10 weeks to give a fuller picture of its capabilities.
Bradshaw explained that some in the IT team were not told of the deployment because they wanted to stop any misconceptions about what it would do.
“Everyone thinks their network, their infrastructure is great, but if this software comes along and picks holes in what we’re doing we want to be able to see that and deal with it, rather than have people questioning it,” he said.
The trial provided several insights into the council’s IT use that helped the IT team justify a full deployment by demonstrating a huge potential return on investment.
The software was able to monitor devices that wasted energy by being left on overnight, for example, and made it easier to see which devices were running sub-standard hardware and software, causing downtime and lost working hours.
Addressing this boosted staff productivity. “It means we can see when people are having problems and try and stop them having downtime and having to find new PCs to work at and so on,” said Bradshaw.
Slow boot-up and log-in times are also monitored, again helping the IT team to identify slow devices that cause staff frustration and waste working time.
“We try to have a baseline of two minutes, and most are under this average, but we’ve seen that take as long as 12 minutes,” added Bradshaw.
The service also cut costs by identifying apps that were being licensed but not used.
The Nexthink monitoring software has also helped as the council moves to an 80/20 working set-up where it deliberately has eight in-office machines for every 10 workers.
As such, there is an expectation that more staff will access services remotely from home or when out and about, over Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop services, again increasing the need for IT to monitor services remotely.
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