Nottingham Trent University outsource asset management system

Nottingham Trent University has complete visibility of its estate after implementing a Snow software asset management (SAM) system hosted in the cloud, allowing it to cut costs and improve student satisfaction.

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Nottingham Trent University has complete visibility of its estate after implementing a Snow software asset management (SAM) system hosted in the cloud, allowing it to cut costs and improve student satisfaction.

Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) SAM team manages 7,600 fixed IT assets used by 26,500 across the campus. After organic growth of the environment, including a mix of Windows and Linux platforms and increasing number of cloud-based subscription licenses, the team of two were struggling to keep tabs with their legacy management system.

“Previously we were in a position where we didn’t have very accurate knowledge of our infrastructure. We had four different systems and if you tried to pull a report off of some of those systems you would get four different answers ranging from 6,000 to 10,000. If somebody asked numbers, it would be a finger in the air guess. But now, for example, I know that there were 6,615 active PC workstations reporting in this morning”, said Chris Toseland, service transition manager, NTU.

The team used Microsoft SCCM with another product for three years prior to bringing in Snow software, but as modifications and improvements were made to the SAM tool NTU saw their administration overheads increase.

“The improvements they made to the product were good for blue chip companies but detrimental to us as a university. The tool was brought in to reduce administration, but it got to the point where after three years we had to do so many tweaks and fiddles with the data to get it to how it was supposed to be, it would have been easier to put it all into a spreadsheet.”

“Each month, we would spend days extracting and cleaning data to create reports that could only verify two thirds of applications installed”, Toseland added.

NTU struck a deal with Civica, a large account reseller for Microsoft and Adobe products, in April last year. Snow software was installed on all clients and administration overheads were undertaken by Civica who hosted the SAM in their cloud, powered by their datacentre in Manchester. By May NTU could begin to take control of their infrastructure and found that only 20 percent of the 500 licenses for one software vendor are in use – so the team were able to shave £30,000 off fees during renewal negotiations.

Having visibility of their infrastructure also gave the team more leverage for bargaining with schools in the university where software could be removed.

“We have also identified that we are over licensed on our Citrix client licenses and we only need half of what we have got. Schools might say ‘we need this many’ but now we can argue the point and say to the school – well you actually have only ever had 200 students using the licenses. We will save £10,000 just on those licenses.”

With the end-goal of not only cutting costs but placing NTU in the UK ‘s top forty universities in the annual student satisfaction survey, the team knew that the University needed to do more than just “throw more computers at students”.

“A lot of the software, we found, was out of date, not utilised and students were asking for it to be available in different locations – so if a lab shut at five they could use it in the library after hours. Snow gave us reports to look at utilisation and we can retire software that is no longer being used, reuse that budgetary allocation to put it where it is wanted.”

Unite recently used Snow software to recoup £1 million in Microsoft licensing costs after its not-for-profit privileges were revoked by the vendor.