Episode VI: Keep On Guessing
My name is David and I work for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK for a medium-size acute hospital with around 4500 users delivering services to a local population just over 400,000. I've been working with the trust for almost 10 years, initially as level 3 technical support and then on to Technical Lead managing level 3 technical team.
About this Hero
David Sawyer is IT Technical Delivery Lead at NHS.
As a Technical Lead, I’m responsible for managing the level 3 technical team.
When I first started we were in the belief that most of the estate was on WindowsXP and very little on Windows 2000. But we were guessing as we had very little in the way of system management and our asset database was a spreadsheet so, in reality, we had no clue what we had, where it was and what was connected to the PCs.
A Ticking Time Bomb
After a couple of years into my role, the trust decided to replace its current Patient Administration System (PAS) from a green screen to a full Windows GUI. As part of the pre-deployment stage, we were given the minimum specification for PCs, storage and RAM to run this new application. With no knowledge what we had or where it was, I felt like I was given a time bomb and with just one month to get all of this data it was truly an impossible task.
We could have employed many people, got them to walk around the hospital, find the PCs and make a note of the specs. Thinking logically, we would still miss some, humans will make mistakes and forcing a doctor off the PC while they were looking up patient details was not practical. So off I went looking for an application to find the devices so we could report on them remotely.
We tried several pieces of software, one of those was Lansweeper. I installed the application, added a few credentials, added a couple of subnets and started a scan. It was so simple I wasn't hopeful it would get us out of this hole. I sat there watching the data come in from the Lansweeper dashboard and I was blown away with the level of detail that was included.
In October 2013, I created my first report detailing PCs specification, exported the report to Excel and emailed it to my manager and he purchased the number of RAM modules that we needed. We were done guessing!
As the report also included operating system version, it was clear that our assumption of XP to W2k ratio was way off and gave us the evidence to employ staff to upgrade those PCs to XP and add the extra RAM at the same time.
The Next Wow Factor
Since the initial install, Lansweeper has gone from strength to strength and the deployment feature was the next Wow factor for us.
An upgrade of the PAS application was due and that means a client install. We knew exactly what we needed, where it was needed and thus we created a report that listed PCs with the old client version and deployed the installation to those PCs. We installed an application to hundreds of PCs in one day. Until this point, we had never been in a position where remotely installing an application didn't involve user interaction or IT walking to the PC.
Our service desk always has it open and when a user calls, they search for that user in Lansweeper and details the PC they last logged into, the service desk then says "Is your PC name XXXXX?". The confidence the user has in us by doing that is on another level, they also know they can't tell fibs when we ask when they last restarted their PC.
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