UIU Case Studies


University College Extends IT Budget with the UIU Bookmark

University College, London

University College, London (UCL) is one of the top five universities in the UK. The university is made up of 72 academic departments with eight facilities based over multiple sites throughout London. The Information Systems department provides IT facilities for both staff and students throughout the university. With such a large and dispersed operation, managing the university’s IT needs from its Bloomsbury location is very challenging. Information Systems supports over 3,000 PCs under its ‘Managed PCs’ service and is required to maintain workstations that hold identical software and numerous types of drivers in a cost-effective and scalable manner.

We needed a solution that was simple, yet thorough.

Maria Darmon, Assistant Director

Simple Cloning was not the Answer

Software-based cloning was already in place at UCL. The cloning package UCL uses to update its computers is a proprietary program, developed by the technical team and based on PXE/Linux and NTFSclone. Even with that, UCL still had to create and maintain 15-20 master images to support the various brands of desktops at multiple sites within the organization. The technological limitations restricted the Information Systems team to using an increasingly limited range of hardware suppliers, as every hardware change could inherently require a new image to be created and/or deployed. Maria Darmon, Assistant Director of Information Systems, said, “Maintaining all of those separate images was a complex and time consuming task. We needed a solution that was simple yet thorough, which allowed us to create a single image that could be deployed across the university in a short span of time. We also needed to be much more accommodating in our ability to support these images across a range of different hardware from contracted suppliers.” She continued, “Another area for concern was an urgent need to deploy updates to our systems. Multiple images had to be updated in order for us to target critical client systems on a frequent basis.”

Hardware-Independent Images

The Universal Imaging Utility (UIU) was UCL’s solution. The UIU enables users to prepare a single, hardware-independent hard drive Image that can easily be deployed to any desktop or laptop regardless of manufacturer, thus greatly reducing the time and expense associated with image creation and maintenance. Using UIU, UCL is now able to maintain just a few master images to use throughout its environment of disparate Desktops.

We can now maintain a small number of images for an increasingly large range of hardware from different contracted suppliers.

Maria Darmon, Assistant Director

Explains Adam Murphy, President of Big Bang LLC, “Rolling-out software updates and setting up new desktops and laptops can be managed within a matter of minutes, and a previously complex and time consuming operation can be transformed into a simple, straightforward and fully automated task. This enables IT departments to drastically reduce the time and money spent on image creation, maintenance, and deployment by streamlining the cloning process. This allows IT resources to focus on more business-critical tasks.”

UIU Extends IT Budget

Simon Walsh, IT Purchasing Officer at Information Systems, UCL, said, “Before we started using UIU, our purchasing options for PCs were very limited. Maintaining core components over a protracted period of time was very difficult and not very cost effective. We discovered that we were unable to take full advantage of advancing trends in technology and advantageous price breaks. We often found ourselves locked into purchasing a particular model for a longer period of time than we would have hoped for in order to avoid having to create and maintain yet another Image.”

Maria Darmon concluded: “Following the introduction of UIU, we can now maintain a small number of images for an increasingly large range of hardware from different contracted suppliers. Images are now faster and easier to maintain and allow us to make much better use of our staff resources.

Toyota Achieves Consistency and Simplicity with the UIU Bookmark

Toyota New Zealand

For nearly three years, Toyota New Zealand had been searching for a way to improve the process by which they cloned their computers. Specifically, they needed to reduce the time and effort spent on creating and maintaining multiple hard-drive images for the wide variety of desktop and laptop configurations. They ultimately found a solution in the software program known as the Universal Imaging Utility (UIU) from Big Bang LLC, which has allowed them to deploy a single Master Image across all hardware configurations. Toyota’s discovery of UIU arrived just in time as the company was about to roll out 220 new machines as well as software upgrades.

There is no doubt that the UIU more than paid for itself during this rollout.

Dion Woisin, Team Leader

Logistical Challenge

With six locations and over 200 people on staff, Toyota New Zealand had begun using disk imaging software eight years ago as a means of deploying a consistent operating environment to all PCs in the organization. Although vastly more efficient than the manual process of deployment, disk imaging has one major drawback - Images created on one hardware platform cannot be easily deployed to another. This problem is particularly prevalent on laptops, where even essentially similar machines often contain different hardware and therefore require different images. Toyota NZ’s extensive hardware inventory resulted in the company creating and maintaining 25 separate images. Each image took three to four hours to create, and each one needed to be modified every time new upgrades and patches were released.

In addition, there was the logistical problem of deployment. As a new image was rolled out, Administrators had to ensure that they were installing the correct image for each machine. If they chose the wrong one, the error message wouldn’t appear for around 20 minutes, when the program reached the point of installing drivers. At that point, the technician would have to start the whole process over again. A final challenge was ensuring consistency across all images. With so many separate images, it was not uncommon that simple settings differed from one machine to another (for example, the way the operating system processes deleted files). While these inconsistencies may not have been critical, they were definitely noticed by users and reflected poorly on the IT department.

Keep it Single

When Toyota New Zealand learned about the hardware-independent hard drive imaging tool, the Universal Imaging Utility, Team Leader Dion Woisin was ecstatic. All of the issues they were experiencing with disk imaging could be effectively resolved by using the UIU to help prepare a single Master Image. “Maintaining all of those separate images was starting to become a nightmare,” he says. “We needed a solution that was simple yet thorough, and we were thrilled to finally find one just before a major rollout.”

The rollout in question was a complete upgrade of all PCs at Toyota NZ, a process accomplished around once every three or four years. Fully aware of the challenges presented by multiple Images, Toyota NZ management was quick to sign off on Woisin’s purchase of the UIU licenses.

Looking back, I don’t know how we coped prior to getting the UIU.

Dion Woisin, Team Leader

Immediate ROI

The UIU is a utility that prepares the master machine so that the image created with existing cloning software can then be easily deployed to any laptop or desktop regardless of manufacturer. In this case, Woisin and his team used UIU in conjunction with Altiris to deploy core applications such as Windows XP, Office 2003, WinZip and Acrobat Reader to all of their disparate PCs.

“There is no doubt that UIU more than paid for itself during this rollout,” he says. “We were able to deploy an identical image to all staff with a minimum of effort.” IT staff found UIU simple to use right out of the box. While the rollout took five months, Woisin says the pre-work would have been substantially longer without the benefit of UIU. They were also impressed with UIU’s extensive driver database. In fact, Woisin says UIU fulfilled all of TNZ’s needs perfectly. “When we were maintaining all of those separate images, we would do a Rollout and within two or three months, everything would be out of date,” he says. “Looking back, I don’t know how we coped prior to getting UIU.” The application allows Toyota NZ to continually improve its processes for machine upgrades. For example, time saved on maintaining multiple images can now be better spent developing an automated system for the installation of non-core applications.

UConn and PC Drivers in MDT with the UIU Bookmark

Founded in 1941, the UConn School of Business has evolved into one of the most comprehensive business schools in the nation, offering academic programs at the bachelors, masters, doctorate and advanced certificate levels, in five Connecticut locations – Storrs, Hartford, Stamford, Torrington and Waterbury. The School of Business has established a strong reputation for high quality research and academic programs, spanning a wide array of functional disciplines – Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, and Operations and Information Management.

The Information & Communications Technology team at the UConn School of Business directly supports the faculty, staff, and students of the school. Their mission is to facilitate the teaching, research, and outreach mission of the School of Business through strategic and innovative implementation of information technology.

UConn Imaging Process

As the Services Systems Administrator, Glenn Ortiz has been integral in developing a cohesive, efficient imaging program across all five campus locations. Eight years ago, the UConn School of Business faced an imaging dilemma supporting disparate student laptops at their Storrs location as well as many desktop and laptop models amongst the faculty. Current Director, Jeremy Pollack, selected the Universal Imaging Utility (UIU) to maintain one hardware-independent image that could be deployed to any laptop or desktop regardless of make or model.

I’m very excited that we have this in place. It takes the amazing infrastructure Glenn has developed, connects to the great tools from Microsoft, and ties it all together with the Universal Imaging Utility.

Jeremy Pollack, IT Director

Since those initial days, Glenn has developed a robust Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) infrastructure to handle their image deployments. They chose MDT as a solution already bundled with their Microsoft Enterprise Agreements, and unlike other deployment tools which operate statically, MDT allows them to dynamically modify the OS image throughout the deployment process. MDT also integrates well for them with other technologies like Windows Deployment Services (WDS) to further simplify the deployment process. 

Glenn and the ICT team appreciate the way MDT is able to inject drivers during the imaging process, which means they no longer have to maintain a master image containing all the necessary drivers. As a result, the image they do maintain can be much smaller which equates to faster deployment times. This also gives them the flexibility to streamline management of the various different platforms, applications, and software needed across faculty, staff, and student PCs. “The migration to MDT has been valuable to our overall imaging process, and has streamlined the entire process”, said Glenn. “In particular, it has addressed a major challenge we still had, which was consistency across all of our campuses.”

I can now install driver updates directly to the server so that when we do deployments the clients will automatically get the latest drivers.

Glenn Ortiz, Services Systems Administrator

Driver Management Challenges

As capable as MDT is, the issue of cross-platform deployment always comes down to disparate hardware and driver management. Even though MDT offers a medium by which to organize and package drivers to correspond with each recipient PC, each driver must be located and manually packaged. 

But manual driver management hasn’t been an issue at the UConn School of Business. Instead of worrying about locating, organizing, and packaging the drivers inherently necessary for the recipient PCs in their MDT environment, they chose to utilized the new UIU to automate driver management. The UIU plug-in for MDT allows administrators to create a driver repository location within the MDT server environment for availability during any deployment. Then, when a Standard Client Task Sequence is deployed, the UIU Machine Configuration Step can be added from a drop-down menu within MDT. Once the Task Sequence is deployed, the UIU ascertains the onboard hardware of the recipient PC during WinPE setup and injects only the most appropriate driver from the UIU Driver Repository.

The UIU is a great tool; it saves us a lot of time. To integrate so well with MDT makes it even more valuable.

Glenn Ortiz, Services Systems Administrator

The UIU Driver Database is continuously updated and vetted, consists of over 40,000 Plug-and-Play IDs, and contains only the latest, most appropriate drivers. Once the UIU Repository location is selected by the MDT admin, it can be set to automatically update when new drivers are released. 

This feature in particular appeals to Glenn, “I can now install updates directly to the server. When we do deployments the clients will automatically get the latest drivers.”

Going forward, Glenn will be utilizing an additional feature from the UIU, the WinPE builder which contains the PE drivers necessary to enable them to create an MDT LiteTouch bootable ISO. 

“UIU/Big Bang have been a great partner over the years. This new solution is another example of how focused they are in increasing the value of our existing investments,” says Jeremy. “I’m very excited that we have this in place. It takes the amazing infrastructure Glenn has developed, connects to the great tools from Microsoft, and ties it all together with the Universal Imaging Utility.”

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