The University of Dundee claims it has reduced the time its central IT department takes to install software to over 1,000 academics from days to hours, after investing in privilege management software.
The university is using the package to give university staff the ability to download the software they need from a pre-approved list, or to instantly request approval for new software from the IT department.
The project allows the university to safeguard security of its desktop PCs, while granting academics access to the computer software they need, says Mark Stephenson, desktop infrastructure team leader.
“The service for users has improved dramatically. User productivity has gone up because they are not having to wait for IT to come over to install software,” he told Computer Weekly.
The university installed privilege management software, as part of a major programme to replace the university’s XP desktops with Windows 7 PCs.
The university had already upgraded its student’s desktops to a locked down version of Windows 7, but realised academics needed the flexibility to install their own software.
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“Convincing people they did not need administration rights would have been difficult. One of the reasons people gave us was that they wanted to install software straightaway for research or for lectures,” said Stephenson.
Stephenson revealed he chose the Avecto software after a well-timed cold call from the company.
“I don’t normally respond to cold calls, but something about it peaked my interest,” he said.
The software automatically presents academics with an online request form, which goes straight to the IT help desk, when they download new software.
The system, which can recognise the unique fingerprints of each piece of software, allows the IT department to pre-approve a menu of software that academics can download without having to fill in an online form.
“The team can look at the software, and ensure its not malware or a potential hazard, ” he said. “We can assess it very quickly and approve it remotely.”
The software is expected to reduce the number of calls the university’s 6 strong help desk receives over time, once the new desktops are bedded in, said Stephenson.
“The project has reduced support costs, and has made it easier for us to provide applications,” he said.
The University has linked the software to its McAfee anti-malware server.
That provides the IT team with an online dashboard of which software has been approved, and which software has been blocked by the university. “It is a very powerful reporting tool,” said Stephenson.
The university is planning to build on its desktop upgrade, by rolling out virtual desktop infrastructure, which will allow people studying off-site to access their university PC desktops remotely.