Case Study

Using proven toolsets to greatly speed the application readiness process, saving over $140,000 a year: an AdminStudio case study

Tean Fishel

At a glance

Team Fishel specializes in utility construct ion and network installation services for broadband communications providers, gas and electric distribution companies, government agencies, and private enterprises. With more than 25 offices nationwide the IT team — located in Columbus, OH — is tasked with ensuring all desktops and notebooks in each location are kept updated with the latest applications, updates, and patches. This challenge is compounded by demands each month for the re-imaging of PCs and laptops to assist the steady stream of new contractors that Team Fishel employs to conduct business.

The challenge

Team Fishel's IT team uses Novell® ZENworks® to deploy applications, updates, and patches to workstations across the United States. Initially, they used Novell’s legacy snAppShot packaging tool to package these applications and updates for rollout with ZENworks, but encountered several serious problems, including:

  • Unacceptably slow packaging
    End users in the field requesting new packages were on tight deadlines, and the snAppShot tool took far too long to prepare the software they needed for deployment. Not having the right packaging solution was not only costing the IT team valuable time, but was also hurting Team Fishel’s productivity and bottom line.
  • Deployment failures
    Packages prepared with snAppShot would sometimes fail to install successfully on their systems, causing further delays for end users and more headaches for IT.
  • Low-quality, unreliable packages
    Repackaged applications often either lacked the necessary functionality or included unwanted files and other captured items, causing the applications to malfunction or break down after installation.
  • High help desk costs
    Whenever packages deployed unsuccessfully or failed to function correctly after installation, calls to the help desk would spike, unnecessarily raising IT’s support costs.

Team Fishel needed a packaging solution that would enable them to quickly repackage and customize applications and updates for reliable ZENworks deployment.

The Flexera solution

When Team Fishel upgraded to ZENworks 6.5, they began evaluating the AdminStudio ZENworks Edition software packaging tool that is included with the Novell deployment solution. Developed by Flexera Software, AdminStudio ZENworks Edition is a limited-featured version of AdminStudio.

The IT team at Team Fishel noticed an immediate difference, not only in the time they were able to save repackaging applications with AdminStudio ZENworks Edition, but also in the quality of the MSIs they were creating. “AdminStudio ZENworks Edition was an enormous improvement over Novell’s snAppShot,” says Jeff Phillips, the Application Administrator at Team Fishel responsible for packaging applications for deployment. “The time I spent repackaging an application was cut by 40%. I was able to give our teammates the applications they needed with a quicker turnaround, which made them happy. In addition, the quality and reliability of the software packages we were generating was superior.”

After several months of using AdminStudio ZENworks Edition, Team Fishel decided to upgrade to AdminStudio Professional Edition to take advantage of the enhanced functionality it offers. The AdminStudio Professional Edition has all the features of AdminStudio ZENworks Edition, but it is also loaded with tools and functionality you won’t find in the AdminStudio ZENworks Edition, including:

  • Enhanced Repackager
    Includes the ability to convert InstallScript MSI setups to 100% pure Windows Installer packages
  • Editor, InstallShield® technology
    Directly customizes MSIs to meet any requirement and authors MSIs for your internally built applications
  • ConflictSolver
    Ensures the MSIs you deploy never conflict with the applications installed in your environment
  • QualityMonitor
    Tests MSIs to ensure they will install correctly and behave reliably

“By upgrading to AdminStudio Professional Edition, we were able to cut even more time off our packaging efforts – an additional 40%,” says Jeff Phillips. “The AdminStudio Professional Edition has tons of functionality that the AdminStudio ZENworks Edition doesn’t, but the Editor tool alone was reason enough for us to upgrade. It gave us even more control over both the MSIs we repackaged and the ones we received from our vendors. It also makes it easy for us to author our own MSI setups for our internally developed software, making those programs easier to deploy and manage.”

By upgrading to AdminStudio Professional Edition, our IT team can prepare applications for deployment in 85% less time than before. The quality and reliability of the software packages are far superior too.

Jeff Phillips Application Administrator, Team Fishel

Business benefits

Team Fishel realized significant cost and time savings by upgrading first from Novell’s snAppShot to AdminStudio ZENworks Edition, and then to AdminStudio Professional Edition, including the following:

  • Saved $140,000 in annual IT costs
    By standardizing software packaging on AdminStudio Professional Edition, Team Fishel realized an immediate and significant reduction in IT costs associated with desktop and application management. According to Stuart Beckett, Infrastructure Manager at Team Fishel, “Overall, by upgrading to AdminStudio Professional Edition and using it to prepare packages for deployment with ZENworks, we are saving around $140,000 a year. It’s tremendous.”
  • Saved 300 hours in 6 months
    Using AdminStudio Professional Edition, the IT team cut approximately 300 man hours off their packaging efforts in only 6 months, a significant time savings. The table below illustrates the time it took Team Fishel to package the same application using all three tools: The IT team estimates that it can prepare applications for deployment in 85% less time using AdminStudio Professional. “Faster packaging means less frustration for me,” says Jeff Phillips, “and our end users get the software they need quicker, which means more productivity for the company and higher satisfaction with IT service levels. Everybody wins.”
  • Huge increase in application quality and reliability
    Thanks to the improved repackaging and increased MSI customization functionality in AdminStudio Professional Edition, the IT team is able to add over 400 additional abilities and characteristics to their MSI packages, making them far more reliable and robust. Now the software packages they deploy conform tightly to company standards, install successfully without disrupting other programs, and behave reliably throughout their lifecycles.
Packaging tool Time to package application
Novell snAppShot 40 hours
AdminStudio ZENworks Edition 10 hours
AdminStudio Professional Edition 6 hours

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