10 “wins” for your school: from the classroom to the server room

Persystent Suite is uniquely positioned to help Schools, Colleges, and other Educational Institutions

Educational institutions face unique IT challenges that derive from servicing the diverse IT needs of faculty, staff and students. These include under-supervised multi-user PCs in places like kiosks and libraries, the need to regulate and restore classroom computer labs, the oversight of loaner PCs to students, and support a variety of faculty and administration business needs.

Persystent Suite offers schools an effective solution that provides distinct “wins” across
the organization in support mission critical goals such as:
Ensuring PC availability and productivity
Preserving a compliant & secure environment
Solving a multitude of break/fix issues
Expanding ROI /doing “more with less”

Persystent Suite simplifies the restoration and recovery process by applying an automated self-healing capability that repairs and recovers any PC without manual intervention. However, it is much more than that. Primarily considered a repair or imaging tool, Persystent’s wide array of integrated capabilities and proprietary technological differences make a qualitative and measurable impact for schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions of various sizes and scopes. Here are 10 “wins” that will help schools achieve many of their IT management goals:

 1. Reducing support incidents with Self-healing or on demand repair automatically fixes a corrupted OS back to the last known desired state in a single reboot…about 45 seconds. This not only addresses the multitude of break/fix help desk calls from students and faculty, but is also the same process that allows computer lab PCs to be reset to desired settings before the beginning of every class.  Essentially this key capability allows you to fix first, troubleshoot later and  resolve issues in seconds.

2. Easily migrate to new and updated platforms like Windows 10/ In-Place PC Refresh:  As many schools are looking to migrate the majority of their PCs to the latest operating system o, Persystent applies its proprietary automated imaging capability to configure the necessary changes and distribute the updated and approved base image to every machine. This process also addresses patching systems, updating applications, user profiles and setting, and other required maintenance. With the hundreds of PCs owned by the school, not only is this an efficient way to centrally control  Whether you are updating 1 or 100s of PCs, the imaging capabilities of Persystent are faster and more accurate than anything else on the market.

3. Maintain the integrity of multi-user PCs like self-serve kiosks and libraries. Because most of these independent  PCs are under-supervised,  they’re often open to a variety of abuses including the introduction of unauthorized downloads and files, malware, and other activities that are outside of school usage policies. These abuses often lead to catastrophic hard drive failure, potentially spread virus infections  and require intensive repairs.  However, IT can schedule that these devices are rebooted daily (applying Persystent’s self-healing capability) and automatically returned to their complaint, desired state.

4. Ensure hard drive sanitization with NIST/DoD recommended wipe When retired or recycled, hard disks still contain sensitive information, Persystent  quickly and seamlessly erases data and sanitizes the drive. It sanitizes a 256GB device sanitized in less than 40 minutes: about 10 seconds per gigabyte. Additionally, if a student reports a school-owned  PC lost or stolen device is lost or stolen, the Sys Admin can even wipe a drive remotely. So the next time the device is turned on, it will no longer be a viable.

5. Get IT support team out of the “re-imaging business.”: Re-imaging is a lengthy and tedious process. In most cases it takes a user’s device out of commission for hours if not days. Typically, the re-imaging process typically rolls back to a Day Zero fresh start. This means data is lost, applications removed; authorized and personal settings gone. Persystent Suite provides multiple levels of repair (so student PCs can be addressed differently than faculty or administration PCs). This not only save data, application and settings, it removes problems and performance issues by restoring a desired state in near real time.

6. Remove shadow IT: You see this daily! Students and faculty love to download and deploy applications –but do it without the blessing of IT. This creates a variety of configuration, malware and security issues. This opens the floodgates to a variety of competing computing agendas and compliance problems. Persystent Suite manages images on the individual level so IT can always know what is supposed to be on a device. All unauthorized applications get removed.

7. Avoiding  zero-day rollback: School IT spends a great deal of time re-imaging performance-deficient PCs. However, often times a zero-day rollback  loses important profiles, settings and applications.–sometimes even critical files like a student’s semester-long research or a professor’s lesson plan are lost.  Persystent’s capability of returning to the last known desired state avoids this. Applied against individual machines, defined user groups or entire environment,  our  multiple levels of repair ensure the necessary flexibility for how invasive the repair/recovery must be. Your school policies determine what OS registries, applications and files will be automatically corrected back to an approved ideal state upon reboot. This way if a repair is required, it doesn’t roll back to factory settings. The user receives their recovered system with their files, settings and profiles intact.

8. Provides 4 functional features as a single solution for much less than cumulative cost of the 4 separate functions: Persystent Suite provides feature-rich, enterprise-powered capabilities as a single centralized source solution (repair/recovery, imaging, change management, drive sanitization)  at a price point typically less than a single function alternative currently on the market.   Not only does Persystent Suite’s budget friendliness  look good on the school’s balance sheet, but simply outperforms market options many school’s current deploy; does it faster, more accurately, with more automations, without over-complexity, and does it in alignment with current IT best practices

9. Promotes continuous reliability and expanded PC Life Cycle: By reducing on-site tech visits, operational downtime, service desk case resolution times, repeat instances and configuration management issues, the devices under the school SysAdmin’s purview maintain a near 100% availability. Not only are the PCs up and running, but they are operating at optimum capacity for longer and they are based on the school’s usage policies and security protocols.

10. It is like having additional headcount without the additional cost: The automations within Persystent Suite removes the burden of constant repair, imaging, troubleshooting, desk side visitations, and update distribution so that the time and effort spent on routine, resource-draining repairs can now be re-assigned to higher-priority tasks that support the school’s mission. Persystent Suite helps achieve this goal in three ways:

  1. Extension of the device lifecycle through automated self-healing not only reduces cost per support incident, but keeps a device (PC and server) healthier for longer.
  2. Reduction of downtime incidents make end faculty/admin/students more productive, happier
  3. Implementation of procedural efficiencies in things like scheduled updates are applied faster and with greater accuracy,

How schools can combine academic success, admin effectiveness and efficient technology without breaking the bank

:Years ago, to get rid of “data” all a teacher needed to do was erase the blackboard. Now, as most schools depend on multi-user computer labs, provide a multitude of devices, and maintain highly integrated technology networks, the need to preserve a relative homogenous environment not only supports effective teaching platforms, but is critical in maintaining a compliant and secure landscape.

In many ways, educational institutions are like large corporations which support many employees, partners, vendors, and clients. Students, teachers, administrators, even parents require access to certain assets, use a variety of devices and, therefore, create a degree of chaos if not properly managed.

The most blatant source for breach and other problematic issues is in computer labs. A single device is typically used by multiple people throughout a single day. Despite stated log in/out protocols and usage restrictions, the ability to make unauthorized changes that might affect the entire network is heightened. Multiply this exponentially by the number of devices in a single lab and a number of labs across campus or campuses. That’s a lot of fingerprints at the crime scene, Sherlock!

However, many campus IT professionals are finding that maintaining a “working state for each classroom and lab is an effective way to battle against user carelessness, intentional damage, and lingering static entries. This “working state” is a controlled and uncorrupted alpha version of the ideal image. By simply rebooting a machine, any changes made during the session are reverted back to the ideal state.

For the past several years, a large central Florida state college (four campuses and 30,000 enrolled students in Central Florida) has applied this strategy to the majority of its controlled devices. After surviving a prolific virus, the college’s IT staff recognized that the labs which promoted the ideal state imaging were self-healed after a single reboot—as if the problem never existed. The other devices (that did not have the Persystent protection) across the campuses required a very time-consuming and invasive reimaging process. The cost was in the tens of thousands.

More than a layer of security, the “working state” also wipes the slate clean after every class. Several of the college’s Computer Science courses are hands-on.  Course curriculum requires students to install or manipulate applications, adjust registry settings, and re-engineer portions of operating systems. Once class is dismissed, another class arrives for a similar lesson. If the system cannot be returned to a “working state,” each subsequent class is building on the work of previous and creating a Gordian Knot of code and chaos. The same strategy that keeps the device free from intrusion is also responsible for maintaining the ideal state on which to build curriculum. A simple reboot gets the device ready for the next class. And, when it comes time to update, upgrade or patch certain applications, the same time-saving process applies.

Schools are not only centers of learning, but also employ large and diverse staffs. In fact, many universities and school districts are the largest employers in their counties and regions. In this respect, their IT environment must perform like that of a corporation. Each role; from the cafeteria manager ordering more French fries, to financial aid officers running credit checks; to professors accessing a content portal for submitted homework; require different applications and access points. Therefore a variety of images need to be maintained towards the goal of administrative efficacy as well as state and federal compliance. The overarching issue here is not the continuous maintenance of an image, but the cost-effective way it needs to be propagated.

If an organization the size of the central Florida college can expect to experience more than 100,000 issues per year, the annual projected costs would be north of half-a-million dollars in technology and personnel expenses.  Yet, by applying an automatic, self-healing reboot to an ideal state such time-consuming issues like troubleshooting, break/fix application, updates/upgrades and migration can be greatly mitigated. This is not implying technology and administrative problems disappear, but the savings towards their remediation is noteworthy and immediately impactful.

For instance, educational institutions are open to abuse as any corporation; sometimes even more so. With so many access points, and devices, managing the landscape is like trying to herd cats. Beyond the administrative issues, there are those who, for one reason or another, engage in what we’ll call “mischief.”  Again the aforementioned Florida school serves as our example. Last year, they experienced an internal breach. Someone hacked the local administrative passwords on several devices in their campus library and changed it. This went on for weeks as the culprits moved from machine to machine. Obviously this made it impossible for anyone to use the affected device and a precarious crack in the security of the network. When discovered, it required a technician to be dispatched and apply a restored image with the original configuration.  By applying the automated configuration, the damage was extremely limited and the personnel cost moved almost to zero.

In terms of refreshing configuration, laptops, tablets and desktops are not the only uniquely educational devices that require monitoring. Many professors are using audience response systems like iClicker to interact with large auditorium classes. These items are like mini-handheld computers that use the password encoded network to connect and respond to a professor’s presentation. With potentially hundreds of devices in the hands of students requiring direct access, the issues with passwords, privileges, settings and other technical issues are compounded.

Most education institutions are cash-strapped or, at the very least, conservatively cost-conscious. It is the successful schools that find and incorporate improved ways to meld academic success, administrative effectiveness and an efficient technology backbone; all without breaking the bank. The easiest way to accomplish this lofty goal is to reduce the instances that potentially impact productivity, drain budgets, and force reassessment of IT priorities. The self-healing properties of automated configuration management allow such instances to be reduced by more than 75%. If that is truly the case (and it is!), there are more resources and more time to devote to higher value tasks.

The issues facing the college in our example are the same that vex Harvard, USC, Palomar Community College and John F. Kennedy High School.  Technology with all of its peaks and pitfalls is increasingly integrated into managing, applying and interacting with curriculum. Keeping this space optimally operational is not a best practice, it is Job One.

 Addressing configuration management in such a way is like boats in a lake after a rain. The water causes everything to rise in equal measure.  An automated backend reduces help desk calls, satisfies administrative compliance through the demonstration of certain controls, extends the lifecycle of the hardware and software, and facilitates student learning.

Though each school may have unique applications and approaches, the need to maintain a continuous ideal state is a common way to fulfill the promise of ensuring the curriculum relies on the teacher, not the technology.

Learn more at www.utopicsoftware.com