IT pros in higher education are faced with challenges peers in other industries don’t usually worry about. In education, there are multiple constituencies which adds to management complexity, including administration, faculty, researchers, an ever-changing student body, and alumni and donors.
Beyond that, most colleges are non-profits, so budgets are always an issue. At the same, competition for students means that costs must be kept low, while at the same time the schools must embrace new technologies that provide competitive advantage.
The last two items, keeping costs in check and driving innovation are the tricky ones. That’s because too many higher education IT pros are constantly chasing down current problems, just trying to keep the wheels turning properly, and don’t have the time to explore new technology options.
There are two keys to improving higher education IT efficiency and effectiveness. One is IT automation. The other is a rich remote control solution that lets IT staff update or repair endpoints without leaving their chair – and often without interrupting end-user productivity.
Applying IT Automation to Distributed Education Systems
Many IT admins spend their days repeating the same old tasks. They may patch endpoints and servers one by one. They may do the same for software upgrades and installations. And don’t get us started on solving tickets and other issues. Here the same issues are dealt with on a one-by-one basis – and usually after the problem fully materializes and the end user is stuck in neutral.
In fact, when IT confronts a problem, some 40% of their time is spent isolating and analyzing the root cause, with the rest spent on actual resolution.
With proper automation, both routine and ad hoc tasks are taken care of by the endpoint management solution, also referred to as remote monitoring and management (RMM).
Besides automating installing patches, updates and maintaining top antivirus/anti-malware protections, such a solution will detect endpoint problems before they blow up. When issues are spotted, the endpoint management solution can alert admins and support the easy resolution of the issue. The IT staff is provided all the information they need to quickly fix the problem. In many cases, even the fix could be automated.
Now instead of your Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR) being hours or days, it can be minutes.
A Broad View
This IT automation only works properly if the system provides a complete visibility into all your campus resources and continually keeps it up to date. This discovery and monitoring process will create profiles of all machines and their configurations, including OS version, latest updates, and patch status.
The ability to continually update this information is critical to higher education, where students, faculty and even administrators are constantly churning.
The endpoint management solution is like having a high-level IT analyst on staff. The system tracks all problems, and the auditing and reporting functions give IT a clear view of common problems and weak points in the network. These issues can be addressed through increased maintenance, the creation of new policies, or infrastructure upgrades such as moving to more modern and vendor-supported operating systems. For instance, upgrading off of Windows XP is always a good idea.
The Right Way to Remote Control
Despite the best efforts of IT automation, not all problems can be fixed without direct IT intervention. When IT staff needs to be involved, you want them to be as fast and efficient as possible so they can get back to more strategic work around education IT innovation.
The answer here is a remote control solution built especially for IT.
There are many remote control tools, but too often they are built for a single function. With these point solutions, admins end up using multiple tools and toggling between them. Meanwhile these tools often require some fancy configuration footwork just to be mildly effective for IT.
In contrast, having a remote control solution integrated with endpoint management makes all the difference. This way, IT has all the profile information about the endpoint needing help. This information includes a schedule of security scans, the status of backups and key maintenance logs.
In addition, IT often needs to access a PC when the end user is busy on an important task. Wouldn’t it be great if you remote management solution let you work in the background and fix the problem without disturbing the end user? Kaseya VSA, an endpoint management solution, does exactly that, including accessing the command line and task manager, viewing CPU load, or working with the registry – among other IT tasks.
More on Kaseya VSA
As you’ve just heard, IT automation solves the vexing issues of IT groups being bogged down all day long in the minutia of manual interventions and problem solving.
With IT automation software, such as Kaseya VSA, higher education IT staffers spend a fraction of the time it would normally take to:
- Install patches
- Update computers
- Produce inventories and audits of networks and devices
- Fix problems using remote control
- Remotely monitor and manage the network and devices
- Manage mobile devices
- Create and run a service desk
- Manage backup and recovery
- Do analytics and reporting
As you can see, automating all these functions is a massive time saver. And having devices fully up to date makes the entire network more secure. As IT has learned over the years, security can’t be perfected on a manual basis. Anti-virus deployments and updates, and especially patches, must be fully automated so you are fully protected at all times.
The result? Deep protection with very little manual IT intervention required.
Learn how Kaseya VSA can support your IT automation revolution by clicking Automate Everything – Time-Strapped IT Pro’s Guide to Getting More Donehere.
And learn more about higher education best practices by reading our white paper – “Managing Distributed IT Systems for Schools.”