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, according to Jim Dolson, manager of network and operations support for the City of Greater Sudbury.

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. The municipality uses a Microsoft Corp. Windows (XP and 2000) environment, Dolson said.

Previously, to send a software update or patch, the IT unit would have to physically travel to every location, which often took months, Dolson added. Now the city is using Novell’s ZENworks tools for imaging, inventory, remote control support and policy management, said Ross Chevalier, chief technology officer at Markham, Ont.-based Novell Canada. Chevalier said the municipal