Wolverhampton Business School (University of Wolverhampton)

 For the Wolverhampton Business School, ABC's Lan Licenser is an essential part of its software management strategy. 

The School is a faculty of the University of Wolverhampton and as a public service organization is expected to work to the highest standards. The School is well respected within the academic community, by its students and by the general public, and it is vital that this reputation is upheld. If any part of the University is deemed to be working outside normal legal or ethical boundaries it would be a very serious matter indeed. 

At the same time, the School does not want to impose too many restrictions. "Academics are by nature inquisitive people and it’s quite right that they should be able to get on with their research," said the School’s Technical Systems Support Officer, Ian Hulme. 

 

"Staff here are encouraged to exploit modern software as long as they stay within the University’s guidelines. Staying legal is important. That is the Dean’s responsibility and she will occasionally ask me if I have done an audit and if I can confirm that we are within the guidelines." 

According to Hulme, Lan Licenser is a responsible business tool for the School. 

"As a University we want to make sure that we are squeaky-clean with regards to software," he explained. "People bring programs in and try them on their PCs. But there is always the danger that they might forget to delete them and exceed the free period. We wanted to make sure that was not happening." 

With 250 active users, the potential for unlicensed software being used on the network is high. In addition, some workers - researchers for example - take machines with them as they move between sites or to work at home. This increases the possibilities of errant software finding its way onto the system. 

By monitoring all the programs being run on all machines, the School can identify any programs that should not be there whenever they are loaded and executed on any of the workstations. It can then take steps to ensure that they are no longer used - the ability to prevent program execution on any machine or group of machines is a standard function of Lan Licenser. 

This saves an immense amount of time and disk space on individual workstations. The initial reports on executed files Hulme produced using Lan Licenser ran to 30 pages. 

Metering activity will also, of course, help the University move towards its goal of standardizing the software used on all workstations as much as possible. 

One of the revelations produced as a result of monitoring program executions, is the high number of minor utility software programs that are in use. Whilst this is not a major concern, these can harbor viruses or allow hackers to mask their entry into a system through the Internet. One program located by Hulme for example was auto-dialing an on-line news service, thus opening up an Internet connection without direct user intervention or supervision. 

As well as being a potential door for viruses, this would have put an additional strain on the network. Repetition of this action by other users could have a real impact on performance so it is important that the School can see what is being run and act upon the findings. It can use Lan Licenser to prevent any such programs being run again. 

Another discovery Hulme made through Lan Licenser was the use of two very old machines in the School's library that did not conform to the desktop standards already set. Hulme revealed that they ‘probably should have been pensioned off by now.’ 

This was not a serious matter in itself but for any organization that wants to promote the efficient use of information technology resources and at the same time minimize the running cost and support overheads, standardizing the desktop and ensuring that up-to-date systems are in use, are important. 

 

"Coordinating software licensing is a nightmare," said Hulme, but Lan Licenser puts control in his hands. "Having a piece of software that will put all the information into one report is tremendous. Every machine that is connected to the network gets a copy of the Lan Licenser client and when people bring machines in and connect to the network, Lan Licenser is loaded and they are monitored so we always know who is using what." 

 

By using Lan Licenser, he concludes, he is able to manage software based on the facts. 

About The Wolverhampton Business School 

"It is not like big brother is watching you - it is simply being responsible and it just makes the management of software so much easier. When the Dean asks me if all our software is licensed, I can say ‘Yes’ and Lan Licenser will back me up." 

One of the largest and most complex schools in the University of Wolverhampton, the Business School runs a number of modular business and finance degree courses across two sites - one in Wolverhampton itself, the other a few miles down the road in Telford. It has a Windows NT 4.0-based staff networks with three servers and approximately 250 client PCs operating under Windows 95. The University maintains a Campus Agreement for Microsoft Office, FrontPage and Visual Studio. Other Microsoft software is purchased through Select. In addition, users also have access to the University's mainframe computer through terminal emulation programs available on the network and Internet access. A mixture of Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator browsers are used. Applications servers reside in each of the main locations; the third server is used for administration and, as well as small Access and SQL databases, hosts the Lan Licenser server software.
 

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