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Make Admins Happy: A Guide to Using Sites in Higher Education

Watch this JNUC session in its entirety.

How do you make your site IT administrators happy while also limiting global admin access? In today’s session, Robert Whitt, a device management systems engineer with the Leveraged Services group at Indiana University (IU) not only answered that difficult question, but he also provided strategies and solutions to help solve common issues around using sites within the higher education environment.

Like many universities, IU faced challenges with:

  • Decentralized IT support
  • Top-level policies
  • Departments ensure compliance
  • Duplication of services

When they started looking at their frequent challenges, they knew they needed a centralized solution that could help from central IT all the way to departments.

“There was a need for a centralized solution to alleviate the issues support staff were facing.”

Whitt is tasked with managing Casper Suite across IU. With approximately 4,100 devices being managed by 31 different sites across seven campuses, keeping everyone happy can be a challenge. But it’s doable. And if you do it right, everyone will thank you.

Within site management, Whitt discussed the 3 most common issues site-level admins deal with, within their respected sites:

  • Packages
  • Scripts
  • Printers

Within each site, IT is able to view all university available packages and scripts, but are not necessarily able to directly manage them without central IT. By utilizing a university wide naming convention site-level admins are able to choose the correct packages and scripts they need to deploy to their department(s). Whitt also stressed the importance of using a testing environment prior to bringing anything to production.

Another way their department has been able to provide additional management capabilities within sites is through custom API tools they have created specifically for their university. These tools include functionality for print ghost, script management and policy containment. Another custom tool they utilize checks a site’s policies and matches it to the corresponding naming convention to ensure the right policies are associated with the right site.

By utilizing a thorough testing environment, university-wide naming conventions and custom tools, their department is able to give more power to its site admins and make them more productive.