New desktop management platform a bonanza for Sudbury

Sudbury may well have a reputation for its nickel deposits, but this Ontario municipality says it has struck gold with a new desktop management platform.

The amalgamated city of Greater Sudbury, Ont. recently standardized its IT environment of 1,400 workstations and 80 business applications on a Novell Inc. desktop management system – cutting down administration costs by 70 per cent, officials said.

The municipality was seeking a desktop management solution that would allow its small IT team to centrally administer and manage multiple locations, Jim Dolson, manager of network and operations support for the City of Greater Sudbury, said in a statement.

A provincial government initiative in 2001 required several Northern Ontario municipalities to consolidate in order to reduce government costs. Sudbury is now the central consolidation point for six other municipalities and provides services for 156,000 residents. The centralized IT staff created from the disparate IT departments manages computer technology in utilities such as emergency services, water treatment plants and transportation centres.

But with the consolidated municipality spanning 3,400 square kilometres, the IT team had a lot of ground to monitor. Previously, to send a software update or patch, the IT unit would have to physically travel to every location, which often took months, said Ross Chevalier, chief technology officer at Markham, Ont.-based Novell Canada.

All that’s no more than an unpleasant memory, with the new desktop management software.

Specifically, the city is using Novell’s ZENworks tools for imaging, inventory, remote control support, and policy management. The municipality had already pre-built images on its new hardware deployments, Chevalier said. This image includes the operating system, applications and user data.

According to the City, it has cut down workstation administration time 70 per cent and reduced 80 per cent of travel time and costs. Chevalier noted the IT team can now centrally manage the business applications and updates. For example, he said, the IT staff members are using the remote control support tools to resolve most of the helpdesk support calls without visiting the physical site.

Pricing for Novell ZENworks starts at US$130 per desktop. Similar desktop management tools include Computer Associates (CA) International Inc.’s Unicenter, IBM Corp.’s Tivoli and Microsoft Corp.’s Systems Management Server (SMS).

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