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Viglen Makes IT Plain Sailing for the University of Plymouth

The University of Plymouth runs a fleet of over 5,000 PCs. An IT refresh of this size is never easy and the University was determined to not only refresh all of their PCs at the same time but also to improve on what had gone before. Through a competitive tender process Viglen won the contract to refresh the entire desktop PC fleet under a five year full Managed Service.

Now with an innovative mix of technology and services provided and installed by Viglen — including one of the largest implementations of Intel® vPro™ technology to date in Europe — the University has seen PC power consumption drop by 40%.

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The Customer

Located in the heart of the city, the University of Plymouth is one of the UK’s most prominent and dynamic Universities with an educational history dating back to 1862. The largest University in the Southwest of England it has a student population of over 30,000 and nearly 3,000 staff. The University of Plymouth is consistently ranked as one of the top three modern Universities in the UK, and has a reputation for high calibre teaching and quality innovation that is backed by the application of leading-edge computer technology.

The Challenge

When the University of Plymouth decided to refresh its existing fleet of 5,000 desktop PCs it provided the perfect opportunity to address a number of related issues. Chiefly the University recognised that the desktop refresh programme could help considerably in advancing its sustainability agenda. Any successful solution would have to address this, principally offering ways to help reduce power usage while demonstrating a ‘green’ supply chain. “We wanted to reduce the amount of energy we were using, and proactively looked for IT solutions that supported our sustainability agenda,” explains Adrian Holmes, Head of Faculty Support & Strategy, University of Plymouth.
The previous system had become very inefficient, relying on IT staff regularly updating PCs with new software and security patches. Computer’s would often have to run through the night to receive essential updates, resulting in 5,000 machines operating up to 24 hours a day, fi ve days a week. These updates inevitably competed with other essential processes such as data back-ups and routine maintenance. Asset management had also become an increasing problem. 5,000 PCs all at different stages of update, with different images and potentially differing hardware confi gurations, proved diffi cult to track and manage effectively.
The University, ambitious as ever, wanted the first rollout of 3,500 PCs to be completed within six months, to help lessen the disruption to students and staff. The remaining roll-outs could then be phased to minimise any further disruption while maximising the availability of IT resource throughout the University. With its wish list completed the search was now on for a supplier.

The Solution

Viglen, the Hertfordshire based IT solutions specialist, won the tender to supply a full managed service and desktop refresh programme of Plymouth University’s 5,000 desktop PCs. The project is the largest single rollout of its kind within UK higher education, and will cost almost £3 million.
Viglen identified early on that this was an excellent opportunity to improve the whole of the desktop management process and put forward specific strategies and solutions to tackle the problem. And there were several elements to the Viglen bid that would have immediate and tangible benefi ts to the University. In addition, all service level agreements (SLAs) were backed by Viglen’s ISO 20000 accreditation.
A major, unique element of the Viglen bid was the introduction of a fully managed asset database and tagging system for both PCs and monitors, enabling easy inventory management. “Finding a more effi cient approach to desktop management became a priority.” adds Rob Douglass Desktop Application Manager, University of Plymouth. Instigated from the outset, the fi rst part of the tagging system is placed on the PCs during manufacture. During deployment to desks the second and fi nal part of the asset tag is added and recorded by Viglen staff on a SharePoint Portal which is accessible to view by the University and wholly managed by Viglen. University and Viglen staff are able to quickly locate PCs and monitors by serial number and identify its network point, room location and primary user details. When a PC moves, Viglen will update the database to include the PCs new location details and any other changes such as primary user new network point etc. Bordan Tkachuk, CEO, Viglen, notes “We have been able to devise a unique solution for University asset management, providing real-time portal access to the technology deployed throughout the University.”
Another Key feature of the total solution was the utilisation of Intel vPro technology. Douglass says: “Following extensive research and discussions with Viglen, they presented a solution which included Intel vPro technology. This would allow us to update and maintain our machines remotely, and wake them up even if they have been powered down. The prospect of no longer having to leave machines running all the time will help us meet the university’s environmental aims.”
Holmes adds “Viglen was able to deliver the right combination of value added services, high-performance PCs equipped with energy efficient Intel vPro technology and a lower total cost of ownership.”
The Viglen solution includes an integrated set of new manageability, security, and performance technologies designed to work together seamlessly. “When it came to refreshing our 5,000 desktops, it had been a requirement for all vendors to have solutions fully utilising Intel vPro technology, with this system, the ability to manage your organisation is built in, so you can manage and secure your PCs better,” says Douglass.

The Result

The installation to date has been a great success. Desktops at Plymouth now consume 40% less power due to the combination of Viglen Energy Star PCs, and the implementation of vPro technology. Further power savings of up to another 25% are anticipated with a revised energy management policy.
With so many students using the computers, desktop security is a priority at Plymouth. IT staff can now deploy operating system and software updates as soon as they are available. “Because Intel vPro technology integrates well with our existing software management system, we can apply new software across all computers straight away, regardless of whether they are on or off.” says Douglass