From K-12 to post-secondary schools, IT organizations in educational institutions across the globe are grappling with the demands of hybrid learning environments in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. As students and staff left campus to engage in distance learning, school districts and private institutions alike distributed laptops, desktops and mobile hotspots for use outside the secured network. As a result, IT teams are under more pressure than ever to track and manage an expanding and increasingly diverse set of IT assets.
With 95 percent of teachers using technology in the classroom, IT teams in schools and colleges were already challenged with tracking and managing IT assets -- even prior to the pandemic. To effectively allocate IT resources and ensure services are always available to the teachers and staff who rely on them, IT teams must not only know what IT assets they have, but where they are, who's using them and whether or not they are running the most up-to-date software.
Typical methods of tracing IT assets such as Excel spreadsheets are error-prone and become outdated almost as soon as they're completed. IT teams spend considerable time and resources on these manual methods -- time that could be allocated to more value-generating tasks. Worse yet, years of accumulation on school and college campuses has resulted in outdated or forgotten devices that don't even make it onto the spreadsheet, leaving schools vulnerable to security incidents, data loss and costly downtime associated with outdated software.
Tracking and Managing IT in a Hybrid Learning Environment
Distance learning appears to be a mainstay in modern education. As of July 10, 2021, 34% of higher education institutions still intend to run classes primarily online, while 21% will offer learning in hybrid format, 23% primarily in person, and 4% fully in-person. As such keeping track of IT assets will take considerable effort. With some schools reopening, some offering hybrid learning environments and others bound to close down again as the Delta variant spreads in various parts of the country, teams will be charged with tracking loaner devices -- and also tracking and monitoring non-sanctioned devices that staff and students use to access campus networks and resources.
And it's not all about endpoint devices for distance learning. Teams must also maintain pristine inventories of IT infrastructure -- servers, storage systems, printers, networking devices and more -- to ensure they are secure and performing optimally.
Effective ITAM Starts with an Accurate IT Asset Inventory
To effectively manage the IT estate, educational institutions must automate the process of creating and maintaining an always accurate and up-to-date IT asset inventory. This calls for real-time discovery of known and unknown networked devices, lost and idle assets, and non-sanctioned devices that remote learners may use to access network resources.
Enter Lansweeper, the leading IT asset management solution for Educational institutions looking to eliminate paper-based asset tracking and reduce the high operational overhead of maintaining a diverse IT infrastructure. Lansweeper leverages agentless and agent-based scanning technology, along with credential-free device recognition (CDR), to automatically scan the entire IT estate -- including any device on or off campus that's connected to a school's network -- and deliver granular information about the devices, software, warranties, users and more. This information is used to create a complete IT asset inventory that's always current and accurate, containing critical information to inform a wide range of IT use cases, from cybersecurity, to software patches and updates, budgetary and compliance audits, cloud migration projects and more.
With Lansweeper, educational institutions boost productivity and security while reducing costs, and gain full visibility across the IT estate to:
- Maximize and track the availability, usage and performance of school equipment
- Ensure students and staff have access to the equipment and services they need
- Track and optimize spending for budgetary and compliance purposes
- Avoid spending money on duplicate, unused and idol assets
Lansweeper is extremely easy to set up and use, taking just minutes to complete the initial scan. Once the inventory is complete, users can leverage Lansweeper's advanced analytics and reporting capabilities to visualize and understand IT asset data via customizable dashboards and charts, and gain actionable insights into patch status, vulnerability exposure, security compliance and more.
B2B Cyber Secure + Lansweeper = Turnkey ITAM Solution for Schools
Martin Dubreuil, Director Business Services at B2B Cyber Secure, is in the business of helping IT teams in small to medium-sized businesses reduce the risk of cyber threats. Their clientele includes several prominent educational institutions.
Lansweeper enables B2B Cyber Secure to provide a vital service to schools -- the ability to track and manage their IT inventory effectively. "Most of the education sector uses Microsoft tools such as SCCM for asset management today, because they don't know about Lansweeper," Dubreuil said. "One of the biggest challenges -- and a huge expense -- that they face is training staff to use those tools. While Lansweeper requires some knowledge to integrate, once we set it up for our customers, they find that it's extremely easy to use. Plus, they can schedule scans to run at regular intervals, and generate regular reports with actionable insights and metrics."
According to Dubreuil, the sheer volume of IT assets in schools -- up to 50K or more -- means it's essential to maintain complete visibility over the IT estate. "Our education clients have a responsibility to make it easy for students to learn and for teachers to teach, so the environment is less restrictive than it would be in another industry, such as financial services." And while most hackers won't target schools for ethical reasons, security incidents still occur. IT infrastructure at many of these schools has been growing for 20 years or more, and many of Dubreuil's clients have lost track of their devices and other assets. "You can't protect what you don't know you have," he said.
Dubreuil said Using Excel spreadsheets to track IT inventory is still a common practice, and completely ineffective. "When we introduce them to Lansweeper, our clients immediately see the value," he said. "Not only do they suddenly gain access to a complete and accurate IT asset inventory for effective ITAM, they can cross-reference Lansweeper's data in their ticketing systems via APIs to accelerate ticket resolution."
Full Visibility Provides Control, Cuts Costs
Dubreuil said that his education clients must now update assets frequently to ensure optimal performance and security. "It used to be that teams would update devices during summer breaks, while everyone was on vacation, but with cyber threats increasing and continuously evolving, IT teams must now perform continuous updates," he said. "A complete IT asset inventory is critical to managing these frequent updates and patches, while ensuring students and staff have access to the services they need throughout the school year."
Lansweeper helps identify the unknown -- what devices are misconfigured or need updating, who's using them for what purposes, and whether they'll need a replacement device in the interim. This full visibility, Dubreuil said, is Lansweeper's biggest benefit.
"With Lansweeper, our customers can see relationships that were not visible before. For example, a technician looking for a computer on the network can log onto Lansweeper and not only find the computer but see what switch it's connected to, what port it's on, who's using it, and more. It saves a lot of time and hassle chasing down information, and it doesn't require any extensive technical knowledge to retrieve the information and take action."
Full visibility helps schools to manage and optimize costs, as well. "Managing spend and reducing overhead is huge for educational institutions, given their restricted budgets," Dubreuil said. "With information from Lansweeper, they have what they need to get budgets approved, and they know how to prioritize their effort and resources."
A Perfect Partnership for the Education Sector
As a long-standing Lansweeper partner, B2B Cyber Secure makes it fast and simple to get up and running on Lansweeper, leveraging the team's in-depth knowledge about pain points and requirements specific to its Education clients.
"We know schools may not have the time or expertise to work directly with vendors, so acting as their integration partner helps them take full advantage of Lansweeper's powerful platform and all of its capabilities -- from discovering network assets to creating a single source of truth for all IT asset data, to leveraging analytics and reporting for critical insights they need to keep the IT infrastructure performing optimally."
Lansweeper's partnership with B2B Cyber Secure is one of many partnerships with systems integrators and technology companies aimed at helping organizations in every industry gain visibility and insight across their rapidly expanding IT estates. If you're interested in learning more about Lansweeper's partners or our partner program, visit our Partners page.