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.
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.
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 only thing I regret is not buying the UIU sooner.
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.
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.
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Founded in 2001, Big Bang is a software development and training company located in Milwaukee, WI. Our many years of training IT professionals to use Symantec Ghost led to the development of our flagship software application—the Universal Imaging Utility.
Since its release in 2004, our customers have used the UIU to deploy Windows operating systems to millions of PCs throughout the world.
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