UIU Case Studies


MPL Reduces Image Maintenance time with the UIU Bookmark

The Milwaukee Public Library

The Milwaukee Public Library has a storied history dating back to 1878. The original historic downtown location has, over the course of several years, added twelve additional physical locations throughout the city. The library’s vision is to be every person’s gateway to an expanding world of information, and to guide Milwaukeeans in their pursuit of knowledge, enjoyment of lifelong learning.

As such, technology services play a significant role in achieving such a mission. With the ever-increasing availability of digital information, online resources and media, maintaining a solid infrastructure of PCs is integral to their success.

The Situation

Spread amongst the twelve physical locations, the library has approximately 850 desktops, and an increasing number of laptops - currently 350. MIS Manager, Corey Megal, leads a team of three people who are responsible for maintenance, imaging and deployment, and configuration of the library’s PCs. In an effort to standardize imaging, the Library purchases predominantly Dell desktops and HP laptops. Of the 350 laptops, approximately 240 of them are for public use. Of the 850 desktops, the split between staff and public use is almost exactly 50/50.

The Challenge

Even though the library had standardization in mind with their primarily Dell desktops and HP laptops, they found themselves with at least five different models of each. In addition to the 10 unique models, that the MIS team maintained a unique image for both the staff machines and the machines used by the public. This meant that Corey and his team were managing fifteen or more images at one time. Each of the public image configurations was required to be considerably more restrictive for daily public usage, and contained completely unique software and configuration from the staff machines. The stark disparity of image configuration between staff and public PCs meant there was nothing they could do to reduce the number of images on hand. Aside from the obvious physical space requirements to house that many images, the primary issue was definitely the time required to make sure that each image contained the latest Microsoft updates, drivers and configuration needed, and then successfully deploy each image to the corresponding hardware.

The only thing I regret is not buying the UIU sooner.

Corey Megal, MIS Manager

The Solution

Back in 2002, Corey attended a Symantec Ghost training session given by software developer and Ghost training specialists, Big Bang LLC. It was at the end of this class that he was first introduced to a solution that could address his imaging issues and help the library reduce the number of images and the time required to maintain them by over 80% -Big Bang LLC’s Universal Imaging Utility (UIU).

The UIU is the only software application able to work in conjunction with an Windows OS deployment solution such as Ghost, Altiris, Acronis, SCCM, ImageX, etc., to deliver a hardware independent image to any PC regardless of manufacturer. Because of this, Corey and his team were able to reduce the number of images they had to maintain from 15 down to two - one for the PCs used by the public and one for the staff. The images are now easy to keep updated, and he knows that he always has a current image ready for deployment. This is particularly important because the library uses re-imaging not only for troubleshooting and new hardware, but also to push out essential updates.

The Future

Going forward, the MIS team will continue to utilize a simple set of best practices recommended by Big Bang. After preparing a master PC (including OS, software and applicable configuration), they capture an image of that machine, prior to running the UIU. This pre-UIU capture is recommended due to Microsoft’s limitations on the number of times you can Sysprep an image, and retaining a pre-Sysprep master allows the MIS team to return to this image for updates. Once that pre-Sysprep image is put aside for future use, the MIS team runs the UIU on the master PC. The UIU prepares the operating system for hardware independent imaging, loads a driver database of over 40,000 Plug-and-Play IDs, invokes Sysprep and shuts the master PC down. In approximately ten minutes, the master PC will be readied for image capture and deployment to the hardware of their choice.

When the time comes to update their two images, one configured for the public and the other for the staff PCs, they will simply put the original image back down, run the necessary updates, capture a pre-Sysprep image to save for next time, run the UIU on the master PC and capture and deploy. Just a couple of hours a month, including the time to pull down the updates, allows the Milwaukee Public Library MIS team to have an updated and completely hardware independent PC image on hand at all times.

Alaska DOT Simplifies Imaging with the UIU Bookmark

Alaska DOT

The Anchorage International Airport served more than five million passengers in 2005, is a major contributor to the local Anchorage economy, and is one of its top employers. It is ranked as the top U.S. airport for landed weight of cargo aircraft and third in the world in the category of cargo throughput. On a weekly basis, more than 650 widebody cargo flights land at the airport.

The Situation

The Anchorage International Airport Department of Transportation employs approximately 500 people. Rodney Watson, micro computer network technician, is responsible for setting up and maintaining approximately 250 computers and more than 30 servers spread throughout the facility. In an organization that is physically spread over the entire airport, this means at times travelling to the other side of the facility to physically update a computer for a user. With so many computers, this proves to be a time consuming task.

I estimate it has saved our fairly small organization about $50,000 per year

Rodney Watson, Network Technician

The Challenge

In order to keep the 250 machines in the organization up to date, the operating system for each computer is periodically refreshed. This ensures that the latest OS fixes and security patches are in place. Due to limitations in their Ghost cloning software, Watson maintained 25 to 30 different Master Image files. He had to maintain one image for each computer platform (or type of computer) in his network. “Updating each of the images from scratch would take at least an hour,” Watson explained. “Pulling down patches from various web sites takes a lot of time. If you’re loading a brand new machine from scratch, it would take a minimum of three hours. We had to find a way to accomplish this more efficiently and save time.”

The Solution

Watson worked for a different company several years ago when he was introduced to Big Bang LLC’s Universal Imaging Utility (UIU). After testing it, he immediately purchased it for his department.When he joined the Alaska International Airport’s Department of Transportation, he again found that the process in use for updating machines was so tedious and time consuming that he didn’t hesitate to bring in the UIU to help. With the UIU, Watson now maintains only two image files, one image for Windows XP and one for Windows 2000. They are easy to keep updated, and he knows they are always current. This is a significant reduction from the 25 to 30 images formerly maintained. “Now, I touch just one machine, which saves a tremendous amount of time and network space, as the typical image size using the UIU is much smaller,” explains Watson. “It simplifies the imaging process greatly.” Watson uses it across the organization. “The hours saved by using UIU are immeasurable. Any product like this, I’m behind 100 percent. It frees up my time so that I can focus on other tasks that really need to be done, instead of working on mindless administrative tasks.”

We’ve cut the time spent by 66 percent.

Rodney Watson, Network Technician

Financial Impact

“To update an image from scratch, it took a minimum of an hour or more,” says Watson. “With 25 to 30 images to update, that equated to more than 30 hours. By reducing our image count to two, we were able to cut two-thirds of our man hours on this task by using the UIU. What used to take about 1,500 total hours per year now takes less than 500 hours, so we’ve cut the time spent by 66 percent. I estimate it has saved our fairly small organization about $50,000 per year, including salary and server space costs, so you can imagine what the savings might be for a larger organization. The positive impact of having the ability for our organization to re-invest those 1000 labor hours into more productive projects throughout the year is difficult to Measure.” Watson continued, “The UIU has not only allowed us to be more efficient in our image management but to also put our IT staff on more critical projects.”

The Future

As for the future, Watson hopes to expand the use of UIU to other types of systems in the organization. “We’re always trying to think of ways to increase usage of the UIU,” says Watson. “I’ve used this product across three organizations in two different states and feel that it’s very simple to use and relatively inexpensive compared to other software costs these days. Purchasing the UIU should be an easy decision for most IT managers.”

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