Today laptops are universal business tools, especially for companies with employees in the field. How does the company know what's on those computers? Not knowing can be costly.
That was the problem Aaron Anderson faced. He is the Director of IT for 180 Connect, a Florida company that services the cable TV and satellite industry. 180 Connect puts in the last few feet of connection to residences so they can get cable and satellite TV reception. The company has 3,000 people in the field using 500 computers. Over 100 of its offices are mobile. "My biggest challenge was to keep track of what was on those laptops," says Anderson.
Some of the employees were downloading problem software; unlicensed software was a constant worry. Viruses were another; they are everywhere on the Web, even on kids' sites. "We knew we had a problem because the number of help desk tickets skyrocketed over the last year because of virus infections," Anderson reports.
In addition, many employees were downloading the popular MP3 music and movie files. With traveling an integral part of the job, employees liked to watch movies or listen to music on their computers at home, in a hotel room, or on an airplane. The big problem: MP3 files eat up a lot of bandwidth. 180 Connect pays for its employees' Internet access fees because the company stores its applications on the Internet. But it found it was paying higher Internet access fees than it needed because it was providing the extra bandwidth for MP3 files.
Monitoring Software Even When the Laptop is Stolen
"Keeping tabs on these laptops internally was becoming too costly using the asset management software we purchased," Anderson says.
The company decided to outsource the software management of its laptops to Everdream, an IT outsourcer that offers hosted desktop services to protect, manage, and support a company's IT infrastructure. "Everdream had the tools and the knowledge to do this cheaper than we could," he explains.
Anderson now has a single interface to Everdream's control center. Deployment was simple, he says; Everdream software let him install its "lightweight client" across his network, explains Gary Griffiths, President and CEO for Everdream. "The download took two minutes," reports Anderson. Then the company reconciled Everdream's list with its own to ensure every company computer was on Everdream's network.
Everdream's software now tells Anderson what applications are installed in each of the company's laptops. He can tell instantly if all the applications are licensed. He can also tell if someone is downloading verboten MP3 files. He can block viruses from spreading and install patches. "Now he has control over all his remote PCs," says Griffiths.
The result: After just six months, help desk tickets have fallen by one-third.
Outsourcing has had an unexpected additional benefit. If someone steals a 180 Connect computer and then logs onto the Internet, 180 Connect uses the Everdream software to back up the data on that hard drive without the thief being ever the wiser. Now, the company can protect its data if the computer remains operable. "We really like that feature, since lost data has been an ongoing issue," Anderson says.