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James "Scott" Hardie
Class of 1991
There is a kind of IT full of serendipity—it’s called independent travel. It’s fine for wanderers who don’t care about their destination or schedule. But in the kind of IT with which we’re most familiar, it’s best to have a guide who knows the territory. That was the philosophy of ICON, Inc., a global provider of outsourced development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries. When the IT department of ICON’s Clinical Research division embarked on an expedition to standardize its global desktops with a single hardware independent image, it signed up with a guide who knew the territory. “In the past, ICON typically operated on a more regional basis,” says Michael Anderson, manager of IT operations, even though its 5,150 employees work in 63 locations in 33 countries. “We’ve gone through a rapid effort to globalize our IT and support efforts. As part of that, we realized we needed an enterprise management solution to help us with those initiatives.” Anderson worked closely with Scott Hardie, vice president of technology services at XCEND Group, an IT and security consulting firm and the Altiris Platinum Partner of the Year in 2007, headquartered in Brighton, Michigan. In early 2006, they began deploying Altiris’ Service & Asset Management Suite and Client Management Suite from Symantec, and then added the Altiris Helpdesk Solutions module later that year. Their goal: to make the journey successful, without surprises. Weeding out the rogues ICON represents a unique kind of outsourcing: it serves pharmaceutical companies worldwide in the planning, management, execution, and analysis of clinical trials. “In a highly fragmented industry, we are one of a small group of organizations with the capability and expertise to conduct clinical trials and development projects on either a local or global basis,” says Anderson. And that mandates an IT department that is equally efficient. To do that, ICON’s IT group, led by Todd Czajka, the vice president of Global IT Operations, to whom Anderson reports, tackled two key tasks. It first had to determine what assets ICON had and what applications already existed on those computers, not only to replace them properly, but also to identify unnecessary applications. And second, ICON wanted to improve its service-level agreement performance. That’s where XCEND came in to help Anderson, who is responsible for the U.S. region, and his two other counterparts, one responsible for Europe and the other for the rest of the world.Immediately, Service & Asset Management Suite identified assets that were, to put it kindly, superfluous. “We were able to identify assets we didn’t even know we had,” says Anderson. “It gave us a global overview of what we’re managing from a hardware standpoint.” The same insights occurred when it came to software. “We were able to identify what applications were installed, see whether they were approved, or pinpoint what we consider to be rogues.” Among the nearly one hundred applications they found, “there were quite a few we weren’t aware of,” he adds. Anderson also fired up Altiris’ application metering module, allowing them to see when people are actually using the applications. “This alone will yield significant savings because we’ve learned that just because someone has a piece of software doesn't mean they necessarily use it,” he explains. Identifying moribund applications means IT can reduce both licensing and management costs; ensuring that only approved applications exist on a computer also reduces security risks.
Being able to analyze the computer remotely also helped. “We have a large number of remote offices that are too small to have IT staff, not to mention home-office users,” says Anderson.
In the journey towards global standardization, get a travel companion who knows the territory
The Buddy System
By Howard Baldwin
CIO Digest October 2007
ICON’s Journey to Standardization
> Altiris Asset Management Suite
> Altiris Client Management Suite
> Altiris Helpdesk Solutions
> Altiris Wise Package Studio
> Consulting from Altiris Platinum Partner XCEND Group