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Academies Enterprise Trust Centralizes IT Asset Management across 57 Schools with Lansweeper

Goals

  • Centralize IT asset management and provide real-time insights into hardware and software compliance across 57 schools.
  • Improve security and compliance by gaining visibility into device vulnerabilities and meeting Cyber Essentials requirements.
  • Streamline patching and deployment by integrating Lansweeper with PDQ Connect for automated vulnerability remediation.

Results

  • Achieved 99% compliance for software updates across its Windows fleet.
  • Quickly resolved vulnerabilities such as the VLC vulnerability leveraging Lansweeper’s timely insights.
  • Improved financial planning and encouraged accountability among schools with personalized dashboards.
  • Centralized IT strategy with a unified view of all IT investments, while ensuring consistent standards across schools.

“Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) is one of the largest multi-academy trusts in England, overseeing 57 schools scattered across the country. Catering to students aged 5 to 18, AET supports approximately 33,000 students and 5,000 staff, providing centralized IT support across this diverse network of schools.”

As an education provider, maintaining the security and compliance of IT systems is crucial to ensure seamless learning and teaching experiences.

Lack of Visibility Posed Compliance Issues

AET’s IT environment is highly varied, with devices ranging from Chrome OS, Windows and Mac computers to iPads, interactive whiteboards, digital signage and more. Some schools have a one-to-one student-device ratio, while others share devices across classrooms. Managing and securing an extensive fleet of over 5,000 Windows devices while ensuring they remain compliant and up-to-date was an uphill battle. 

Prior to bringing IT asset management in-house, AET relied on a managed service provider (MSP) to handle updates. However, there was a lack of visibility into each school’s IT assets and vulnerabilities, posing challenges for compliance, especially regarding Cyber Essentials certification, which requires vulnerabilities to be addressed within 14 days.

“We were struggling with limited visibility across all our IT assets,” said Dane Cutts, Head of IT Systems at AET. “Each school site operated in a silo, making it nearly impossible to identify vulnerabilities and ensure compliance consistently. The manual processes added to the challenge.”

After carefully evaluating several IT asset management solutions, AET chose Lansweeper for its ability to create a centralized, comprehensive inventory, and the platform’s Vulnerability Insights scanning and reporting features.

Complete Visibility Strengthens Cyber Security Posture

Initially, Lansweeper was installed locally at each site, connecting to a central server. As Lansweeper evolved into a cloud-based solution, AET transitioned to a more scalable model, to align with its cloud-first approach.

Lansweeper provides a centralized dashboard offering comprehensive visibility into the Windows IT estate across all 57 schools. Every school’s devices are cataloged and monitored, providing real-time insights into hardware and software compliance. 

“With Lansweeper, we have a centralized view for monitoring all of the schools in our network,” said Karl Burnard, Cybersecurity Manager at AET. “We can see at a glance what vulnerabilities are present and what needs our immediate attention. Without this tool, we’d be relying on individual site reports and spreadsheets, and we wouldn’t have a clear understanding of the security risks across our entire estate.”

The Vulnerability Insights feature provides AET with critical insights into device vulnerabilities, allowing immediate actions to be taken, to mitigate risks and improve security posture. Lansweeper’s detailed reports help AET meet the requirements of Cyber Essentials by ensuring vulnerabilities are promptly addressed. 

“Lansweeper has been crucial for achieving our Cyber Essentials certification,” Karl said. “The dashboards give us real-time data on software and hardware compliance, allowing us to quickly patch and update devices that have vulnerabilities, and ensure each school maintains a safe and secure learning environment.”

Additionally, by utilizing Lansweeper with PDQ Connect, a cloud-based software deployment and management tool, found vulnerabilities can be patched promptly through automated deployments, reducing time and effort for IT teams.

The use of PDQ Connect alongside Lansweeper enables us to seamlessly deploy patches across all schools as soon as vulnerabilities are identified, ensuring we’re compliant and secure without having to chase down local teams,” said Karl.

Lansweeper Aligns with AET’s Cloud-first Approach

Thanks to Lansweeper, insights into device compatibility with Windows 11 enable better financial planning for device replacements. Each school’s IT team’s personalized dashboards enable them to monitor their own compliance, creating a sense of accountability.

“The visibility provided by Lansweeper has transformed how we manage IT security,” Cutts said. “Previously, only about 50% of our fleet was compliant with software updates. Now, we’ve improved that figure to over 99%, ensuring that vulnerabilities are swiftly identified and resolved.”

The unified view enables AET to strategize IT investments and ensure consistent standards across all schools.

As Lansweeper continues to enhance its cloud portfolio, AET will explore new features to bolster its cloud-first approach. The IT team plans to develop detailed reports that provide trend analysis over time, offering deeper insights into compliance trends.

“Lansweeper’s ability to give us a comprehensive understanding of our Windows fleet has made managing compliance so much easier,” Cutts said. “From ensuring devices are compatible with Windows 11 to tracking antivirus installations, we can now plan our budgets and replacements more accurately across all of the schools we serve.”