United Coal Company "Yuzhkuzbassugol" is one of the largest coal mining companies, and the stability of the company, reliability of management, security, as well as timely detection and elimination of problems in the infrastructure of the organization depend on its information systems. Due to the fact that the number of workstations is more than 1500 and is constantly growing, it is very important to organize an automated process for updating applications, migrating settings and ensuring scalability at minimal cost.
There was a fairly wide variation in hardware and software at OJSC UСС "Yuzhkuzbassugol"; different workstations used a variety of software based on Windows XP and Windows 2000 operating systems. All products were installed at different times, from different media, had different versions and configurations, there were no regular updates. All these facts hindered the effective collaboration of the employees of "Yuzhkuzbassugol", and the system required standardization.
"Yuzhkuzbassugol" pays great attention to the development of its IT infrastructure. In this regard, in order to increase the efficiency of the workflow and reduce the cost of maintenance of the workstation fleet, it was decided to standardize workstations and bring them to a single configuration, thereby minimizing the routine work of system administrators with each individual user.
In its work, the IT service of the company was guided by the recommendations of the Microsoft Business Desktop Deployment Standard Edition. However, the recommendations of the Standard Edition are designed for companies with a fleet of up to 250 computers and do not include scenarios for using management automation and monitoring tools.
"Yuzhkuzbassugol" made a decision to modernize, taking into account the current needs of the company and in connection with the increased load on its IT infrastructure.
So, the main tasks faced by Softline, which was implementing the solution, were:
- Improving the efficiency of the IT service of "Yuzhkuzbassugol" through the automation of operation processes and a more rational distribution of responsibilities between IT specialists.
- Modernization of the network resource management system and expansion of its capabilities.
- Standardization of user workplaces.
- Monitoring system implementation.
- Self-service portal implementation.
After relatively short consultations, it was decided to implement a comprehensive software management system based on the Microsoft Business Desktop Deployment Enterprise Edition (BDD EE) solution in the offices of "Yuzhkuzbassugol". The consultations were short, largely because the customer had previously used a BDD Standard Edition solution that proved to be effective. Softline Consulting Services carried out a lot of work related to the preparation of documentation, the actual implementation, as well as comprehensive testing and training of personnel.
Considering that OJSC UСС "Yuzhkuzbassugol" already has extensive experience in working with Microsoft technologies, the choice of a solution was not surprising. In addition, the fact that there was no need for a global restructuring of all systems was an important factor, and the demonstration of the capabilities of the new version did not require significant time investment. Microsoft BDD EE is a set of management tools that help you efficiently plan, build, test, and deploy Microsoft Windows Desktop OS and Office System.
Microsoft BDD EE consists of two components:
- Zero Touch Installation (ZTI) performs the role of a subsystem for workplace management, updating versions of various products, as well as operating systems without losing data and familiar settings. The component is built on the Systems Management Server 2003, Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 and SQL Server 2005.
- Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) acts as a self-service portal (unattended service). Due to the fact that network management for the entire organization is a rather complex and time-consuming process, many standard IT administration and management tasks (such as approving a user's application for inclusion in a security group) can be assigned to managers at various levels. Service requests received by the IT department can also be accepted and executed without operator intervention (such as deleting a user from a mailing list). The ZTP system allows administrative functions (called ZTP services) to be delegated to managers, and it also allows users to run self-managed (without manager involvement) ZTP services. The self-service portal is built on top of Windows SharePoint Services and BizTalk Server and integrates best with the ZTI subsystem. All you need to access the self-service portal is a web browser.
According to the calculations, the solution has satisfied all the requirements that were set out. Reliability and the added value of Microsoft's enterprise licensing program were important considerations for this choice.
The pilot project was implemented in the head office and one of the regional offices of the company. The workstations have been standardized – as a rule, programs that must be installed are Windows XP operating system, Microsoft Office and an antivirus program.
The ability to install an operating system from scratch, as well as updating and transferring settings from another computer, has been tested.
A portal was put into operation, on which users can fill out applications for the installation of new software. This portal also allows the user's line manager to approve the request and track its progress. The software is installed automatically after the approval of the application.
The positive result was achieved largely due to the fact that an excellent team of IT specialists was formed at OJSC UСС "Yuzhkuzbassugol", for which Microsoft Business Desktop Deployment Enterprise Edition became the basis for effective management of user workstations. The shutdown of IT systems and internal services were not required – advance planning, preparation of documentation, personnel training and consultations from Softline Consulting Services experts made it possible to complete the work almost imperceptibly for users.
“A feature in the implementation of this project was the geographically distributed project team, consisting of specialists from Softline Consulting Services (Moscow) and specialists from OJSC UСС "Yuzhkuzbassugol" (Novokuznetsk). The work on the deployment and trial operation of the system was carried out remotely using VPN technology, which made it possible to reduce the cost and duration of the project for the customer.”, - Roman Romantsov, head of Sales Department, Softline Consulting Services.
At present, the process of further deployment of the system in other offices of the company and the transfer of its components into operation by the specialists of OJSC UСС "Yuzhkuzbassugol" with consulting support from Softline Consulting Services is underway.
Thanks to a solution based on Microsoft Business Desktop Deployment Enterprise Edition and Zero Touch technology, "Yuzhkuzbassugol" has obtained a reliable system that allows them to manage all the user workstations.
The new system allows to:
- Centrally install standard software configurations on new computers, as well as transfer user settings and data from one workstation to another when replacing computers.
- Automatically install applications on workstations upon user request under the control of their line managers.
- Keep track of and analyze the use of installed applications.
- Create lists of software and hardware components for software and hardware update planning.
- Test applications for compatibility with Windows XP Professional and fix any inconsistencies that are found.
- Configure base and auxiliary applications and build application packages for automatic installation on workstations.
- Automate the creation and deployment of desktop images.
- Manage desktop security to improve the security of the environment.
- Manage processes and technologies in a comprehensive, integrated environment.
The introduction of Microsoft Business Desktop Deployment Enterprise Edition and Zero Touch technology allowed IT service employees to significantly redistribute labor costs while minimizing the time for updating and installing software products for users.