Voice of Experience: Switching Tool Belts

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2004-02-05 Email Print this article Print

Paul Johnson, chief network engineer for construction firm Barton Malow, ran into too many problems with Microsoft’s systems management software, so he replaced it with Altiris’ Client Management Suite.

Paul Johnson
Barton Malow
Chief Network Engineer

Southfield, Mich.

Manager's Profile: Heads technology services for the privately held, 80-year-old construction-management firm, which says it generates more than $1 billion in annual revenues.

Support in the Field: The company has personnel at construction sites across the U.S., making on-site management of their PCs out of the question. "Even if it were financially feasible in terms of travel, the man hours involved would make it impossible to do this traditionally," says Johnson, who oversees a technical support staff of seven.

His Project: In November 2002, Johnson and his team rolled out the Altiris Client Management Suite to 1,300 PCs to provide centralized application metering, software distribution, and patch and inventory management. Of those desktops, 400 are at Barton Malow's headquarters; the rest are spread among 70 construction sites.

Trouble With Microsoft: Before Altiris, Barton Malow had deployed Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS) 2.0 in 2001. A year later, Johnson concluded it was creating more problems than it was solving: "There were stability issues—the garden-variety problems with SMS." Not willing to wait for the next version, the firm ripped out SMS 2.0 in mid-2002. (Microsoft acknowledges that earlier versions had flaws but says it fixed them in SMS 2003, which became available last fall.)

Payback Time: Barton Malow spent just under $90,000 on the Altiris project, including software licenses, training and travel expenses. Johnson figures it took about a year for those up-front costs to pay back. "On average, we're saving 60 to 65 hours per week that we're not wasting for technician time," he says—hours he estimates would add up to $95,000 per year for additional labor.


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