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300 users, IT staff of 2. Need suggestions.

By rwalterk ·
500+ employee company
300+ users (most are remote)
60 different offices in 4 states
2 IT people

Does something like Altiris or SMS make sense here or is it more headache than it's worth for just two people? We neglect a lot of things because we're stretched so thin, and one of those is patching/updates. We have to concentrate on outer perimeter defenses because that's all we have time for.

Another question, on a scale of 1-10, how crazy is my company for having only two IT people at this size? Don't even ask about whether or not I've tried to get more people on board. I've tried everything imaginable.


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Look at what you've got

by jterry In reply to 300 users, IT staff of 2. ...

And not at what you haven't got. If you've got 300 users and most of them are remote and the company doesn't know by now that you need more help than 1. Your users are very experienced and are keeping up to date with patches on their own, or 2. They aren't reporting their problems (Most likely scenario). I have made up a Weekly Maintenance list for my users home PC's that lists all the updates and programs they need to run each week. (Such as Microsoft Update, Ad-Aware, Spybot, Microsoft Anti-spyware, JV16 etc) This might help in your case. I use St Bernards Update Expert at work to keep up with patching but in your case with everyone being remote it probably wouldn't work. If the company won't listen make sure you have everything in writing stating why you need more poeple and than start looking for a new job.

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Standardize everything!

by jorgen.bryde In reply to Look at what you've got

Every bit of hw, sw, settings and configurations. Change everything every four years, based on needs and requests (maybe you can allow minor sw updates once a year.)

Keep every computer identical at all times, and keep 10-20 spares at your location.

When it's time to patch, upgrade your spares, ship them out, get the remote PC-s in return, upgrade them, ship them out, etc.

A VERY strict regime is the only way to survive.

I think.

Oh, and LANDesk might help, if you prefer that.


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by RNR1995 In reply to Standardize everything!

jorgen are you crazy?
Swapping machines in and out for remote users
Doing the patching for all of them
That would just add to the already overloaded IT staff
I do agree with hardware standards but NO ONE has 20 spares of anything!

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by giledwin In reply to WHAT?

I was thinking the same thing. I would give my left arm to have one spare, much less 20 spares.

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Automation Scripts

by techiemikee In reply to RE: WHAT?

Requisitioning 20 spares in a 300 user environment is a good way to get fired or passed over for promotion.

300 users can be supported by a 2-person staff. I'd recommend a contractor for as long as you could get away with. I've found companies that will hire contractors for large deployments only and wind up extending their contracts indefinitely. It is a good way to ease the budget heads into proportioning more money. Accounting departments like the non-fixed costs associated with contractors and you can ask them not to come in when the budget runs low without having to go through the lay-off process.

To lesson the workload you could give an administrative assistant or even the receptionist the restrictive rights that allow the ability to reset passwords.

Buy good business class machines that come with a 3 year warranty and retire the machines when the warranty wears off so your time spent replacing hard drives and other parts that are known to wear out in time is minimized, and you have the manufacturer's support for your end-users to call when you are unavailable.

Tighten security on the workstations and laptops so that the damage users can do is limited.

Create Ghosted Images on DVDs so that endusers can restore the machine back with all the company applications when they do screw it up.

Determine your most common problems and compose automatic fixes in batch file.

Learn how to do unattended installs on Service Packs, Hotfixes and other Microsoft Products.

Automate everything you can one or more of the following, Perl, Python, VB Script, Kixtart anything that will allow you consistent results, quick plain-text modification and can be repeated on each and every machine. Some of those language will require a compilor to create executables that will run on all the machines, but they have a syntax that can be learned easy and deployed more quickly than VB, VC++, etc.

When possible create programs that will allow the user single click upgrades, they put in a CD or download a program, click on the custom application and the upgrade or fix is done automatically for the user. Provide written step-by-step instruction, otherwise you'll be trying to relay instructions over the phone, if you're talking about repeating the same tasks times 200-300 machines, thats a lot of time spent on the phone.

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Block Bad Remote Users

by craig.engel In reply to Look at what you've got

Update Expert and SMS won't work very well for your remote users. Install VPN quarantine technology. Don't let them in if their feet are dirty.

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Sounds about right

by jdmercha In reply to 300 users, IT staff of 2. ...

Two IT people should be able to support 300 computers.

Assuming -
- They only provide desktop support. No server administration, No training, No purchasing, No planning.
- All the computers are in the same general location

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re: Sounds about right

by rwalterk In reply to Sounds about right

Yes, two people should be able to support 300 PCs if your assumptions are true. I with that were the case.

Me = IT Manager (strategic planning, purchasing, project management, network and server administration, tech support).
My 1 staffer = Sys Admin (network and server administration, tech support).

300 users in 60 different offices in 4 different states.

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I know you said you tried everything...

by admin In reply to re: Sounds about right

...but have you really tried everything? I'm surprised management can't find the money to hire one or two entry-level techs? If the organization is so big but that bit o' money is such an issue to them, maybe you could locate the local community college and bring on a couple of interns who need the credits?

All that aside, I'd document *everything* and start putting out feelers for a new job...

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Before you jump ship

by Too Old For IT In reply to re: Sounds about right

... make sure your retirement nest egg does not include any investment in this company. The IT is spread way too thin and if either you or your SysAdmin leave, the company will be gone in 60 seconds.

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