IT Hero in Action: Deploying Lansweeper in a Tanzanian Hospital

KCMC-Tanzania-Hospital

Charity Work in Tanzania

My name is Maarten Annema, I work at Hospital Tjongerschans in Heerenveen, the Netherlands in the IT department. Two years ago, Jan Dros (initiator of the Multimodus Foundation) asked me if I could help another hospital: The Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center, in short KCMC, in Tanzania Africa! The Multimodus Foundation is a small but efficient charity organization.

This hospital is near the city of Moshi, close to the legendary Kilimanjaro mountain. KCMC has around 700 beds and provides care for around 17 million people in the area (to put this in perspective, the Netherlands has 57.000 hospital beds for 17 million people). As you may have guessed, they have to work with less funding and resources then we are used to. But they make up for the lack of funding with very enthusiastic people.

When asked, I jumped at the opportunity and dedicated my time and effort into this 3-year project to help another hospital by sharing the knowledge I have accumulated over around 20 years of working in IT. And I must say it feels good to share my knowledge. In total we are with a team of 8 people, all with an IT background helping out and this year I got my first opportunity to visit KCMC.

Last year the team brought a lot of equipment: switches, access points, servers, and storage. We prepared everything in Leeuwarden, in the Hospital MCL. The equipment was shipped by container to Tanzania and lucky for us, it arrived on time. Here is a brief summary of what we did last year: 16 SER's replaced with new switches, 250 workstations were migrated to this new network, a VMware environment was built to enable the use of virtual machines and large storage was implemented for the use of Radiology images.

Upgrading the Internet Connection

So we took care of a lot of equipment, but then there was this issue with their internet connection. Let me describe what we found: KCMC had a 4 Mbit internet connection for which they paid around 2000 dollars a month. The connection was very slow, on the verge of unusable, and this was compounded by the fact that people were using computers to download movies. We connected with a local Internet Service Provider on Tuesday morning and asked if we could upgrade this internet feed.

Incredibly, in the afternoon the ISP was on-site in KCMC. The next morning the ISP was digging the fiber to the KCMC and by Wednesday afternoon the 10 Mbit internet connection was up and working! And to make things even better, they now pay 1200 dollars a month. That was amazing to see. In the Netherlands, it would take weeks or even months! With new firewalls, we managed to block a lot of traffic and we brought the internet connection slowly back to life. 

Training the Local IT Staff

For this year's visit, the focus is on training the IT staff. We divided our team into groups, each focused on helping KCMC to understand the network, routing, virtualization and managing the workstations. I provided training in Active Directory and Group Policies.  The goal is to bring every windows computer to Active Directory so the IT-staff is in control again. Using remote assistance, they now can help the people instead of walking every time to the incidents. Users are no longer local administrators and can't install software anymore.

I have been using Lansweeper professionally for a few years now and I'm very happy with the solution and the value it brings to an IT team. In my excitement, I reached out to the Lansweeper team and asked if they would help me with KCMC. It adds so much to those people! Seeing which software is installed, how many computers they have, the whole inventory of all the computers in one place is essential.

Lansweeper agreed to help out this hospital and provided us with a free license. So during our visit, I installed Lansweeper and with a room full of people I showed them what it could do. It was very nice to see the reactions, including a few open mouths. One example: in the past, they had difficulties putting hard to scan computers in Active Directory, but now they use LsAgent to bring all the local computer information to Lansweeper. The more computers they are adding to Active Directory, the more information they will get from Lansweeper.

Thank you Lansweeper for helping and caring. The head of IT, Mark Denning, is very grateful and would like to thank you.

Asante Sane (meaning: thank you very much).

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