Altiris Cures UUHCs Image Deployment Woes

Case Study: The University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics uses Altiris' Deployment Solution for large-scale client image management.

In the spring of 2003, the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics faced a dilemma: A new hospital with 250 computers was coming online, but the image deployment system could handle only three to four clients at a time without failing.

After looking at several solutions, UUHC, a full-service hospital and research center in Salt Lake City, with 12 branch clinics, decided in 2003 to use Altiris Inc.s Deployment Solution. Now, Clint Criddle, client management principal at UUHC, is using Deployment Solution 6.5 to speedily deploy computer images and patches.

"We have just over 3,200 PC desktop systems and another 400 or so Hewlett-Packard [Co.] thin-client systems that come with the Altiris Aclient agent, and a staff of 13 to support all these systems," Criddle said.

"Now that were using Deployment Solution 6.5 to manage our client image installations, I can take two guys out of the regular work schedule and have them work on proactive desktop management projects instead of just fighting fires."

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read eWEEK Labs review of Altiris Deployment Solution 6.5.

UUHC now uses Deployment Solution 6.5 for Servers on roughly 50 servers, and Criddle expects to have nearly 400 servers under management by the end of this year. A recent UUHC study of its data center systems showed CPU utilization at 5 to 10 percent per machine. UUHC is evaluating a server consolidation and application migration strategy using VMware Inc.s VMware ESX Server.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read about Altiris foray into application virtualization.

Prior to implementing Deployment Solution 6.5, Criddle and his staff faced client-side issues including operating system, application and patch management problems.

"Going from [Microsoft Corp.] Windows 98 to Windows XP ... we wanted to manage Windows Update," Criddle said. "Before we implemented Deployment Solution, we were using Windows Update on each machine to keep systems patched. But users could turn the update off—wed do a vulnerability scan and turn up machines that didnt have the right patches and didnt have the right version of the [McAfee Inc.] anti-virus DAT [digital audiotape] files."

"We wanted a tool that would let us control when updates went out so we could test them before the patch was installed on an end-user system," Criddle said.

Deployment Solution has delivered just that for UUHC. The 250 systems for the new hospital were ready to go in a matter of days, not weeks, Criddle said. Using Deployment Solution 6.5, UUHC has dramatically changed the way end-user systems are configured and updated.

"Now we turn off Windows Update and use Deployment Solution to distribute patches after first testing them. We also use a Deployment Solution script to lock down the system so the end user cant turn [off] automatic update," Criddle said.

Purchases required

To implement Deployment Solution, UUHC had to buy 12 high-performance PCs (one for each remote clinic) and a couple of new servers to run the Deployment Solution software and required databases. UUHC would not specify the implementation costs of Deployment Solution but has seen substantial time savings, Criddle said.

"With the package servers in place at each of the remote clinics, we cut down a lot on the time we spend managing remote systems. ... We are booting the remote machines, installing images [and] remote controlling them during the image process, which we can do because we are using [Altiris] Bootworks," Criddle said.

"We can see everything that is going on without having to travel 30 to 40 miles to get to the clinic. We are saving mileage reimbursement [expense] and time spent going back and forth," Criddle said. Previously, according to Criddle, a UUHC IT staffer would drive to a remote clinic, pick up the machine that needed to be reimaged and deliver it to the central campus in Salt Lake City, reimage the system, and then drive it back to the clinic.

/zimages/5/28571.gifRead more about the state of IT in the health care market here.

With a reliable disk-imaging system in place, its easier for Criddles staff to use Deployment Solution to deliver application and utility software to PC systems. For example, UUHC used Deployment Solution to distribute McAfees ePolicy Orchestrator to ensure that all anti-virus products are up-to-date.

For the most part, no interaction is required between users and Deployment Solution—with one exception. "We set up the system so users have to say yes to let us remote control their system. Privacy is important to us, so we set up Deployment Solution to help us make users comfortable," Criddle said. "We sent out a lot of e-mail, and set up a Web page so users would know what the Altiris icon would look like and how to tell if the client was running on their system."

Labs Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at

Case file

  • Organization University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics
  • Location Salt Lake City
  • Issue PC and server imaging system couldnt accommodate the rate of expansion and still meet deployment objectives; imaging system also required extensive post-installation configuration
  • Solution Altiris Deployment Solution 6.5 along with Altiris Notification Server, which facilitates multiple installations, to scale the system across the UUHC central campus along with nearly a dozen outlying clinics
  • Tools Altiris Deployment Solution 6.5 for Clients and Deployment Solution 6.5 for Servers
  • Whats next Encourage other divisions that use the same network infrastructure to accept client licenses already purchased by UUHC to enhance productivity and security on the shared resource

Source: eWEEK Labs Reporting

/zimages/5/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.