Mobility Solutions Provider Avoids $90,000 in IT Costs with Cloud-Based PC Solution
Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, SkyWire Media builds innovative technologies that help businesses personalize and distribute rich content to mobile devices. Its web-based marketing tools come in a campaign management suite, Sky CMS, that uses Short Message Service (SMS), interactive voice response (IVR), and email technologies. Customer-facing solutions include mobile ordering and restaurant reservations applications, and for businesses, it offers mobile application development support, customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, and labor forecasting tools.Since its inception in 2010, SkyWire Media has grown from 5 employees to 30. It acquired a second office in Chicago, Illinois, and expects to continue growing. The company has 45 PCs, including a suite of portable computers that 25 sales representatives use while on the road. Except for using Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 R2 for software distribution, SkyWire Media had no standard policies for managing its desktops.
“It’s important that our desktop is consistent and up-to-date so that our software works well on every machine for development and demo purposes. Yet we didn’t have an accurate inventory of hardware or software,” says John Malloy, Director of Technology at SkyWire Media. “Staff had trouble transferring files between computers running different operating systems, and I couldn’t tell if we were in compliance with our licenses.”
Malloy performed software updates and security upgrades manually, which meant that sales representatives’ computers were rarely up-to-date. “If a problem arose and a demo malfunctioned, our representatives had to call us and hope we could walk them through the problem,” says Thomas Castleberry, Chief Operating Officer at SkyWire Media. “We wanted to support our sales folks so that they could drive business, but we didn’t want to deploy a virtual private network to enable that connection back to the office.”
As Malloy and Castleberry began investigating third-party solutions to solve the company’s desktop management challenges, they learned about Windows Intune, a cloud-based PC management solution from Microsoft. Windows Intune combines desktop management, endpoint protection, remote assistance, and upgrade rights to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system—all in a single license. “As a startup, we prefer cloud-based services over on-premises solutions,” says Castleberry. “We want to minimize capital expenses in favor of predictable operating costs. We expect to grow, so we want scalable, low-maintenance solutions. Windows Intune was a perfect fit.”SkyWire Media also wanted to upgrade to Windows 7 Enterprise. It plans to use the BitLocker feature in Windows 7 Enterprise to encrypt data on sales representatives’ laptops and the BranchCache feature to cache content from its file and web servers at its Chicago office. “Windows 7 Enterprise would showcase how our products work on the latest and greatest desktop operating system,” adds Malloy.
Malloy used Group Policy, a feature of the Windows Server 2008 operating system, to install the Windows Intune client software on 10 computers in the office. “It took 15 minutes to download the clients to the first machines,” he recalls. “At the end of the day, I was seeing results in the Administration console: hardware and software inventories and the status of all the managed PCs right there in the Computers workspace.”
In June 2011, SkyWire Media tested the beta version of the latest release of Windows Intune. “The software distribution feature in Windows Intune has worked flawlessly for both Microsoft and third-party software,” says Malloy. “I’ve deployed products on our remote sales staffs’ computers. Now everyone will have the software they need to do demos and win customers, no matter where they are. By October 2011, we had completed a global rollout of Windows Intune.”
Since subscribing to Windows Intune, SkyWire Media has achieved a paradigm shift in desktop management. “By using Windows Intune, we save money, simplify PC management, and offer better support to sales staff so that they can increase our success in the field,” says Castleberry.Reduced IT Costs
SkyWire Media avoided the cost of third-party products that it would need to perform desktop management tasks by using Windows Intune. “I looked at antivirus and malware [malicious software] servers for [U.S.]$8,000 each,” says Malloy. “When you add $2,000 for the software and another $70,000 for a full-time administrator, we were looking at $80,000. Windows Intune saved us from those expenses.”
With Windows Intune, SkyWire can retire on-premises solutions. “The software distribution feature now available in Windows Intune will save us an estimated $10,000 in software costs because we can retire the third-party tools that we were using for this purpose,” says Castleberry.
Simplified PC Management
Now that SkyWire Media has standardized the desktops on Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows Intune has delivered all required updates, it has a clear baseline for future hardware and software purchases. Also, it can easily stay in compliance with software licenses. And by using the Computers workspace, Malloy created computer groups and applied management policies to fine-tune his control over the desktop. “Having the security updates, software deployment, endpoint protection, and reporting and inventorying features in one utility is phenomenal,” says Malloy.
Improved IT Support
By using Windows Intune, SkyWire Media can prevent malware threats before they interfere with a sales representative’s ability to win new business. “Our support calls are down by 70 percent, proof that Windows Intune is keeping our sales folks productive. They can rely on their laptops for dependable computing and foolproof SkyWire software demos,” says Castleberry. “That’s good news for our business!”
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