Remote management a Snap at printing chain

150 disparate systems managed as one

Printing services company Snap Printing has deployed software to remotely manage servers in more than 145 stores across Australia.

Snap is used by some 400,000 businesses and processes orders generating over one billion page impressions per year.

The company considered a remote management solution when it encountered problems with each franchise having its own server and running its own IT operations.

Snap system administrator James van der Moezel said the franchise network used to have servers running everything from Windows NT through to Windows 2000, and applications like Outlook and Microsoft Office are used in the corporate offices.

"We also needed some way to keep track of the servers in each franchise - remote support for managing the MIS [management information system] needed to actually run the business. There simply was no way of managing the servers," van der Moezel said.

Visibility into each franchise's server - for data and servicing access - was almost non-existent and technicians were routinely sent on-site to solve problems.

"Support queries were previously either taken over the phone or submitted via e-mail - we had no remote control systems," van der Moezel said. "It was hard to troubleshoot anything. If we needed copies of data we had to get each franchise to send in a data CD, so any sort of troubleshooting was very time consuming."

Snap approached systems management software vendor Kaseya for a possible solution, and according to Snap Group IT manager Peter Driscoll, this was largely based on the positive recommendation of Snap's operations in Ireland.

"Ireland had previously been using a Citrix product and had also tinkered with WebEx," Driscoll said. "They were looking for a method of controlling all the machines across their 18 franchises so they adopted Kaseya Enterprise Edition. They quickly saw it as a very cost effective replacement for remote administration."

Van der Moezel said deploying Kaseya was simple and each of the 146 franchises installed the client onto their Windows 2003 servers. At Snap corporate the Kaseya client was installed on its 20 servers.

Driscoll said Kaseya is used over existing management tools from WebEx and Citrix.

"Citrix would give us remote access and WebEx gave us troubleshooting, but Kaseya gave us all that plus the ability to run queries," he said. "That gave us the information we needed to work our way down the troubleshooting path. And all of that is through a standard interface."

Being able to schedule a script in Kaseya is "infinitely more efficient" than being reactive and having to log on to fix a problem, according to Driscoll, who describes the new solution as "proactive system management".

Other benefits include fewer calls to the help desk, and less site visits by technicians.

"Running scripts on the servers is something we couldn't do before," van der Moezel said. "We have now automated the process of updating our SQL database at corporate which we then use to populate data on our Web sites and to track jobs. That in turn helps us with automating our Web site sales engine."

"There also wouldn't be many other ways in which we could get all the sales and orders data for the MIS as it doesn't come from a central source - it comes from 150 different instances of SQL. If we didn't have Kaseya we would have to develop an application to get all the data from all those different servers."

Van der Moezel said his time has been "freed up", and although each franchisee still updates its own servers, head office can provide information to them as to whether the servers need to be updated, and how secure they are, without having to go on site and run manual tools.

With 150 distributed systems in the group, Driscoll said Kaseya brings them all together so that they act like one system and "WebEx doesn't go anywhere near that".

While WebEx and Kaseya were initially around the same price to deploy, Driscoll said Kaseya's renewal fee in the second year was around 10 percent of WebEx's.

"There's been the cost savings, but what has really changed is the productivity. What would have taken us a month or more to execute we can now do in days. We just get more done," Driscoll said.

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