Greater Dandenong City Council (GDCC) has
utilised a recent rollout of asset management software to
discover PCs it didn't know it had and confiscate inappropriate
"We thought we were right on top of ... the number of devices
we had," the council's customer support coordinator Grant
Griffiths told ZDNet Australia in a recent telephone interview.
"We found we weren't."
The council estimated it had around 550 machines in the wild located over five major sites,
only to discover an additional 25 or so after rolling out asset
management software from vendor Centennial late last year.
Griffiths and his team also found the council -- which
primarily uses Microsoft software on both servers and desktops --
needed to buy a few extra licences from the vendor for some
products and to get rid of some spares.
Rogue software installations were also common on what should
be primarily work PCs.
"There was some interesting software we found out there that
wasn't appropriate, and wasn't licensed," said Griffiths.
"Freeware and online games, that sort of thing."
"Stuff that was downloaded before we introduced our firewall
and the Webmartial to restrict those sort of things."
Griffiths said most of what he described as "non-standard
software" was found on notebooks because users took them on the
road and plugged them into a multitude of different networks.
Choosing a vendor
Prior to the Centennial rollout, GDCC had
been using a combination of paper, simple spreadsheet records and
barcodes to manage its IT assets. Both software and hardware were audited manually.
"We were looking for an asset management solution, plus we
were also looking for a tool that would help us manage our
Microsoft licences," said Griffiths.
The council examined asset management tools from Computer
Associates, Microsoft and Altiris, as well as some freeware
"We did have the Microsoft SMS package here, years and years
ago, and it was full of bugs and caused us a lot of grief, but we
still looked at it," said Griffiths.
The council tested each solution and sat through presentations
from several of the vendors, with Centennial's Discovery 2005
software eventually chosen.
"Price was probably the main driver; we had a fixed budget,"
said Griffiths, although he noted it was important the eventual solution was compatible with the council's existing systems.
The manager said all of the commercial vendors offered "great"
systems, but some had more features than his organisation
"They were more featured than what we wanted, and therefore
more costly than we could afford."
"If we were looking for software deployment, and things like
that as well, maybe we'd be looking at a different product
altogether," he added.
Discovery was deployed via the council's automated login
script, with asset information starting to filter back
"The users hardly even noticed it; I don't think most of them
even twigged that we were doing things," said Griffiths.
In some cases the Centennial software was too exact though, according to Griffiths. "In some cases it gave us too much information, we had to rationalise it a bit. It told us we had multiple versions of Microsoft Office on one PC," he said.
"We worked out what that was. We had Office installed, but there were different versions of the components in Office -- like Access or Excel -- that had been upgraded using a later version of an Office CD."
Griffiths said the new software had saved a significant amount of time over the old manual system.
The council's next big move will be to replace one third of its desktop fleet around the middle of this year -- an annual process that ensures every machine is refreshed.