University of Derby Gets a Handle on Expanding IT Estate with Lansweeper
University of Derby
Located in the heart of England, Derby is a bustling city famous for setting Britain’s Industrial Revolution in motion with some of the country’s first factories and large businesses. Today, the city is home to manufacturing facilities for Rolls Royce, Royal Crown Derby, and several engineering firms. It’s also home to the University of Derby, a large, modern institution that focuses on delivering excellence and opportunities for students and staff.
With all of the opportunities in the area, the University of Derby has expanded rapidly. Originally a smaller college with one site, it’s grown to multiple regional locations. As such, the IT department has its hands full on managing all of the hardware and software assets that comprise the infrastructure, as well as endpoint devices used by its staff and growing student body of 30,000+. Roughly 100 IT team members are spread across the various university locations, providing technical support and services, managing the IT infrastructure, and ensuring endpoint devices are up-to-date and secure.
- Created a single source of truth with a centralized IT Asset inventory to support multiple IT use cases
- Leveraged Credential-Free Device Recognition (CDR) technology to instantly discover every device on the network.
- Effectively managed remote devices to support distance learning during Covid-19 with Lansweeper LsAgent
- Achieved Cyber Essentials Plus certification by implementing weekly Lansweeper scans to satisfy stringent requirements
“With links to so many of the systems and technologies we use across the department, Lansweeper can be our single source of truth, informing any IT use case — from cybersecurity and vulnerabilities tracking, to software license management, patches and upgrades, audits, and more.”
The Need for Efficient ITAM Across the Expanding, Distributed IT Estate
According to IT Asset Coordinator, Rob Crossland-Diskin, keeping the university’s 35,000+ IT assets functioning optimally is increasingly challenging, requiring substantial investments in infrastructure and the technologies to manage and protect it. “Asset management and security are a critical focus for our IT team, as is managing the lifecycle of our assets from purchase through recycling.”
Rob moved into his Asset Management role at the University of Derby in November 2017 and quickly determined that the team needed an efficient solution for creating an IT asset inventory. He immediately audited existing technologies and processes to determine what changes would help his team manage the infrastructure effectively and strengthen its security posture. “We were using various monitoring tools such as Active Directory SCCM, VMware, and others, but nothing that provided insight across the entire IT estate,” Rob said.
During a conversation with the support team at License Dashboard, in which Rob’s team was using their software to track software licenses, they recommended Lansweeper, noting its ability to create comprehensive asset inventories that include vast amounts of detailed information about every hardware and software asset on the network. “I thought, this is exactly what we need!” he said.
After a successful proof of concept, Rob’s team purchased Lansweeper. But before Rob’s team could fully leverage all the capabilities of the Lansweeper platform, he had to get buy-in from various stakeholders throughout the organization. Once they saw what the tool could do, they jumped on board.
“When I demoed Lansweeper, it started scanning our systems immediately and picked up things we couldn’t see before without even needing credentials to complete the scan,” he said. “Plus it provided more complete and detailed information than any of the other tools we’ve used.”
“Whereas before we might only get the IP address for a device, Lansweeper displays the device type and model, what software is running on it, who is using it and a ton of other insightful data.”
Covid-19 and Distance Learning Required Immediate Action
Lansweeper’s true value became evident when in March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and the University’s staff transitioned to remote working overnight. “During the pandemic, we lost sight of a lot of equipment because it was not connected to the University network anymore,” Rob said. “That’s when we went full steam ahead with Lansweeper.”
Rob advocated for putting more of Lansweeper’s capabilities to work immediately. New features such as Credential-Free Device Recognition (CDR) technology, use-case-specific dashboards, and an extensive reports library could simplify ITAM across locations. Importantly, the team started using Lansweeper’s LsAgent, a small, lightweight client application, to keep track of the extended network of remote devices that had made their way into the homes of staff and students. LsAgent gathers data locally from Windows, Mac, and Linux devices and sends it back to the Lansweeper platform.
“Without Lansweeper, I would have been desperately searching for a solution to find and monitor all of our off-site devices, but since we already had the solution up and running, the situation was under control in no time,” Rob said.
Lansweeper is essential to helping Rob and his team manage the IT estate as staff and students continue to access the network remotely. “Now that every new computer goes out with LsAgent on it, we never lose sight of a single device, laptop, or PC, because Lansweeper enables us to keep an eye on it,” he said.
“Prior to Covid-19, the majority of our equipment was on-site, and only occasionally would people take devices off campus. That’s all changed. But with Lansweeper’s LsAgent, we can continue to protect and manage all of our IT effectively.”
Credential-Free Scanning Completes the Inventory
Lansweeper connects to a wide variety of tools and pulls information in from everywhere, creating a centralized IT asset inventory containing all of hardware and software assets, along with user information. Additionally, Lansweeper’s AI-powered CDR technology helps Rob’s team detect and identify any asset connected to the network — IT, OT, or IoT — without needing credentials. In this way, it augments the inventory with detailed information about any asset connected to the network — even forgotten devices and equipment that haven’t been used in years.
“Finding forgotten devices is critical because if someone plugs an outdated or compromised device into the network, it introduces vulnerabilities,” Rob said. “Working alongside our SOC team and their tools, Lansweeper helps detect and flag such vulnerabilities, so we can take rapid action to either update or disable the device and ensure the network is protected.”
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An Easy Path to Cyber Essentials Plus Certification
Maintaining a detailed asset inventory wasn’t the only reason Rob wanted to expand his team’s use of Lansweeper; they were working to achieve an important certification that required knowing their IT.
“We were working toward earning an accreditation called Cyber Essentials Plus Certification, and Lansweeper was instrumental in helping us achieve this distinction,” Rob said. Cyber Essentials Plus is a hands-on technical verification that protections are in place to guard against the most common cyber threats and demonstrate a commitment to cybersecurity.
“There were some tasks required to earn the accreditation that we could not complete, such as scheduling weekly network scans,” Rob said. “Once we started using Lansweeper, we could tick off the checkboxes and move forward with certification.”
Rob added that achieving Cyber Essentials Plus certification provides a competitive advantage, helping the University to attract students and generate revenue, which has been particularly challenging for educational institutions during the pandemic.
“We are one of the first universities in the UK to achieve Cyber Essentials Plus certification, and Lansweeper has helped the University achieve this.”
Customized, Detailed Reports to Support Any IT Role
Rob and his colleagues use Lansweeper to create customized reports to help keep the team up to date on a variety of topics and metrics. “Lansweeper’s reporting features are more advanced than anything else we’ve got internally,” he said. “Other reporting tools output data in messy Excel files, and by the time they’re distributed, the data is already outdated. With Lansweeper, everything is detailed, clear, and up-to-date. And, we can customize reports for different audiences or use cases, without needing any coding expertise.”
In addition, Lansweeper provides more than 400 ready-made network report templates, making it fast and easy for teams across the IT organization to analyze, share and take action on IT asset data.
“I see Lansweeper serving as a single source of truth for creating reports that help people in their specific particular roles.”
Agentless + Agent-based Scanning Supports Blended Learning Environments of the Future
As students return to in-person and blended learning environments, the combination of Lansweeper’s agentless and agent-based scanning will be critical. “We expect our workforce to transition to a blended learning environment, so Lansweeper will continue to be an important solution for us moving forward,” Rob said.
Rob said that he’s considering adding Lansweeper’s Asset Radar, which detects devices that may only have been connected for a few seconds or minutes in between scans. Because it discovers assets the moment they connect to the network, Asset Radar provides complete coverage and eliminates blind spots across the IT environment. “Asset Radar could potentially reduce the number of scans we need to schedule, as well,” he said. Meanwhile, Rob has implemented weekly scanning, during which Lansweeper scans the entire network — hardware, software, servers, and other infrastructure.
With Lansweeper in his arsenal, Rob can better manage the university’s growing IT environment with confidence. “I’ve always worked in smaller companies, so moving to the IT organization at the University of Derby was a big step up in scope and scale,” he said. “Lansweeper has helped me keep pace with the organization’s needs and ensure everyone’s devices are up-to-date.”