Founded in 1922, the Polish American Association (PAA) is the US only human services organization, providing a comprehensive range of bilingual and bicultural services to the Polish community and others in need. The mission of the PAA is to serve the diverse needs of the Polish community in the Chicago metro area by providing resources for changing lives, with emphasis on assisting immigrants through its 28 programs and services.
Three branches and several PAA departments require different organizational approach in terms of software, permissions, accessibility, etc. At the same time, having 28 programs, each with its requirements for vast online resources, content filtering proved to be more IT resource intensive than IT staff could handle on a timely manner. Moreover the IT infrastructure was managed through a set of separate tools such as SpiceWorks, UltraVNC, GPOs, etc.. Those solutions required significant effort to keep stations secure and up to date with company policy - says Adam Kusz, Network Administrator/Webmaster.
The main factor PAA sought the product for was its ability to track user activity. Convenience and reliability of remote access to each machine from the same interface was the second function IT department was interested in. Furthermore unification of software and hardware inventory tools, user activity monitoring, remote access and helpdesk solutions was needed to work more efficiently. Axence nVision as an unified platform allowed to consolidate the functionality PAA was striving to achieve with other tools, which helped save money. The core functionality that was expected was implemented within two days after a week of testing period. IT staff had the nVision running and collecting useful information within few hours.
Since users were informed that their computer activity will be tracked, along with Axence splash screen informing users that their activity is being monitored, the use of company equipment for non-business related activities has practically ceased. Remote access and user monitoring increase productivity, ransomware attacks number decreased significantly. These are also cost saving factors. Additionally, IT staff saved approximately 2-3 hours per week on their work. From time to time they use Axence Technical Support, which is excellent – responding quickly and professional.
Axence nVision made our work significantly easier since we have a global view or PAA network and configuration. All requirements and area of interests were met or even exceeded our expectation. IT department can now focus its attention on simplification and unification of our solutions.
– Michał Chybowski, IT Director
The YMCA of Coastal Georgia is a regional association of YMCA’s. The association consists of 12 branches with 8 physical locations. These locations are spread out amongst 4 different counties in Southeast Georgia. Each branch has it’s own internet service provided by 5 different companies based on geographical location as well as provider availability. The entire network is made up of a mixture of T-1, DSL, and Cable internet providers and is tied together with a Linksys Hardware VPN system. There are more than 200 network devices and computers on the Network: Cisco Routers, SonicWall Firewall, Linksys VPN, HP Procurve managed switches, private and public wireless routers, PC’s, printers, and servers (Windows 2000/2003 Servers and Linux server).
Problems that needed solving
The two largest problems we had that needed a solution were Asset and License management. With computers scattered all over 4 counties and only a set of IT Guidelines that were not enforced, occasional visits to remote branches in different counties almost always turned up unlicensed, unauthorized, or unsafe software. As the only IT person for this organization it became a very daunting task to also keep up with an access database I created to try and manage our hardware assets. Branches were used to not having an IT department and constantly accepting donations or buying and donating equipment without my knowledge. These things resulted in auditing problems, weak spots in network security, and liability towards software companies for license violations.
The design of our VPN Network made remote control of desktops a problem as well. Windows Help features worked very sporadically. The VNC server running on the machines was a resource hog. This caused many unnecessary drives to a branch for very simple fixes. There are very few users in this organization that have the ability to describe a problem with enough detail to help me troubleshoot it over the phone and most employees were unwilling to try and walk through the solution.
One other problem we faced was worker productivity. Functionality required access to the internet and many employees took full advantage of having the internet and were spending far too much time in unproductive endeavors on Myspace and Facebook. Solutions that were being considered for resolving this included routing everyone through our corporate office and installing a proxy server. Another less expensive but much more labor intensive idea was for me to manually maintain URL Block lists on every branches individual router. Neither of these solutions was ideal but they were what we had.
The last problem I was considering solutions for was software pushes, registry and setting changes, and other PC related fixes that needed to happen behind the scenes. Active Directory and Group Policy are wonderful tools especially if you are competent with VB scripting but I have not achieved that competency yet so was considering things like WSUS, SMS, and MOM. These are all wonderful tools but they all require a level of scripting to be effective that I didn’t have. Combine that with the cost of these programs and they were not feasible. With our devices scattered all over the region it was a nightmare for me if something was going to change with our network that would require a setting change on all the PC’s
I had tried several programs that all promised to solve some of the above problems. Some would have worked well except their cost was out of reach. Others fell short of their promises or were too hard to learn, setup, and operate. nVision installed flawlessly and the instructions to get started were easy to follow.
The first nice surprise was that nVision actually went out and found all the remote branches and created one large map with all of our devices. No other software tried was able to do this right out of the box. To make this easy on myself I created one map for each branch as well. It found everything on our network that had power to it. I was quite pleased.
To see how it did with the asset and license management I followed the directions to get WMI running and all other settings needed using group policy. The next day I was very pleased and impressed to see the most accurate hardware inventory I had seen to date from any software. I was also able to very rapidly confirm we had proper licensing for all our Microsoft products and had an immediate list of PC’s that needed unapproved software removed. After that I was sold but I wanted to see how it handled the rest of what it offered so I started installing the nVision agent. Out of 100 PC’s I had to go around and touch 3 of them and manually install the agent. Those were PC’s that never actually logged into the domain so they never got the Group Policy instructions.
I needed to change DNS settings on all our PC’s and could have done it with a VB Login script but decided to give nVision a try. It pushed up the bat file very well and all the PC’s that were turned on at the time successfully took the new settings. The next day I was able to go into each one remote control wise and finish the few that were left. This saved a week of me driving around to different branches.
Having the remote control and software upload features has been a huge bonus for this software. The User Activity tab has been a huge help as well. Just spreading the word that I could now see how much time was spent surfing coupled with the splash screen announcing they are being monitored has completely eliminated wasteful surfing. Every major issue I needed a solution to regarding Network administration has been solved by nVision.
Besides having a running account of software licences and hardware, the custom counters and reporting features have been amazing. Coupled with the alerts it is now very simple for me to spot and diagnose network and PC problems before the users themselves even know there is a problem. Every day when I come in I can with a glance see if any of my branches are experiencing Network issues or if any of the computers are experiencing heavy CPU or memory loads. Planning New PC rotation, Memory upgrades and better assessing the daily needs of the branches has become 100’s of times easier with nVision.
Software support and training has also been revolutionized here. Calls for help with features of software can now be dealt with on the spot instead of scheduling a time to drive out or trying to explain features and walk people through steps over the phone. This ability alone has saved an estimated 44 hours of wasted time over the last 30 days. I won’t even mention how much trouble it saved the IT department and the organization as a whole while I went on vacation.
Matthew Cruikshank has been in the computer industry professionally for about 12 years. His certifications include A+, Network+, several MCP’s in Windows NT, and 2000 server +TCP/IP and CCNA. Several other Certifications of completion from Microsoft for Exchange 2003, Windows Server 2003, MSSQL Server, and Windows XP. Matthew Cruikshank is an expert in TCP/IP and Security. He was hired by the YMCA of Coastal Georgia as their IT Director to get a good Wide Area Network in place as well as provide database, desktop, and software support.
IT Administrator YMCA of Coastal Georgia
Along with the dynamic growth of NDI S.A., the corporate network, covering both the head offi ce and a number of company branches throughout
the country, also expanded. Over time several issues emerged, mostly related to the control of hardware and software IT resources. Additionally,
the security policy adopted in the company called for compliance with strict criteria related to data protection against leakage and unauthorized
With the need to improve data security in mind, the company decided to consult with ICT infrastructure management experts. Through collaboration, the existing situation, company requirements, and the provisions of the security policy were analyzed. Based on these consultations, the decision was made to implement the full Axence nVision® software suite.
One of the fi rst observed effects of the implementation of the new software was how the system administrators’ work got easier with the ability to control and intervene in users’ desktops. As was expected, the administrators also gained access to knowledge on the devices connected within the network; the installed hardware and software database was centralized, and the reported issues are now solved in a quicker and more effi cient manner. Another feature, which turned out to be highly important, was the permanent software audit combined with reporting.
NDI S.A. is one of those companies whose IT infrastructure is constantly undergoing changes as subsequent company branches are set up throughout the country. Thorough information on the company’s hardware and installed software was hard to get. Furthermore, investments in such a broad area required the introduction of data security procedures. An analysis of solutions offered by different competing companies in the scope of customer needs and the application tests which were performed, convinced us that Axence nVision® would be the right solution for this client.
Aleksandra Olczyk, Key Account Manager at VIDA
Having analyzed the market in detail, we decided to purchase and implement all of the nVision system modules. The system provides solutions to most of the issues concerning the infrastructure and data access security. Additionally, Axence® declared its willingness to collaborate on fi nding solutions for ongoing problems.
Wojciech Mysiak, IT Director at NDI S.A.
A leading innovator in the scope of electrical engineering and automation technologies, Phoenix Contact Wielkopolska Sp. z o. o. from Nowy Tomyśl, is a modern and dynamically growing company, which is part of the international Phoenix Contact group, founded in Germany in 1923. The company has been present on the Polish market for 22 years. The company currently employs more than 2,200 people in four production halls of a total area of 21 thousand square meters. Solutions developed by Phoenix Contact are future-oriented and guided by technological developments. They are applied in innovative industry sectors. The products are used in the power industry (especially in relation to renewable power production), the manufacturing of machines, devices and control cabinets, in automation and safety systems protecting humans, machines or data, and in infrastructural solutions. Long-standing experience gathered by plants from all over the world has enabled the company to become a leader among the manufacturers of electrical connectors. Through the application of the recognized manufacturing and management standards, the company supplies the global market with products of the highest quality. Creativity and innovation are embedded in the mission of Phoenix Contact Wielkopolska as the bridge to the future, and therefore the company is permanently improving various parts of its business. Undoubtedly, one of these areas is the IT infrastructure, which should satisfy the vast array of needs of a modern company.
|scope of business/industry:||electrical engineering and industrial automation products and solutions|
|number of monitored workstations:||1100|
|implemented nVision modules (names*):||Network, Inventory, Users, HelpDesk, DataGuard|
Phoenix Contact Wielkopolska endeavors to maintain the image of a credible company, which operates in compliance with the law. This status is confirmed by, among others, the positive results of the software legality audit Microsoft Software Asset Management. It is cyclically performed within the company. The certificate strengthens the company’s goodwill and produces added value for the company. The IT department required a solution which would allow it to perform an Online software legality audit, which means that all unauthorized software and hardware changes made by end users could be monitored and reported. Furthermore, a solution consolidating the corporate IT infrastructure management, including the network and user activity monitoring, was needed. Prior to 2008 those activities were dispersed, i.e. performed by using several different applications.
The management of Phoenix Contact Wielkopolska, acting on the basis of the recommendation of the IT department, decided to implement the integrated IT management software Axence nVision. The full functional suite was chosen, i.e. including Network, Inventory, Users, HelpDesk and DataGuard modules. nVision Agents were installed on 1,100 workstations.
Consolidation of the management functions in one tool simplified IT infrastructure monitoring and saved the IT department’s work time. Since the implementation, all works are executed from a single console.
The deployment of Axence nVision application has significantly simplified the process of preparing the company for Microsoft Software Asset Management legality audit. The inventory module allows a full statement of purchased software licenses from applications installed on workstations to be collected quickly. Furthermore, the employees do not install illegal applications. During the last software legality audit performed by an external company, only negligible software legality violations were identified on the workstations, which proves the users’ awareness has suitably increased and remains on a constantly high level. The Inventory module has also enabled efficient inventory taking in relation to IT assets (hardware and software), which is a strategic activity for any company nowadays. The correct asset management produces numerous benefits, including financial profits. With a clear vision of company hardware and software assets, the purchasing of unnecessary software can be avoided, thus saving money and existing resources can also be utilized in an effective way. What is equally important, the employees of Phoenix Contact Wielkopolska were informed about the installation of Axence nVision Agents on all workstations, and the very awareness of being monitored has improved the work effectiveness and reduced the use of Internet for purposes not related to the company’s business.