Greater Visibility of Software Assets is Saving Chicago Public Schools Money

Customer Profile:

Chicago Public Schools is the third largest school district in the United States with more than 600 schools providing education to approximately 400,000 children. Their vision is that every student in every neighborhood will be engaged in a rigorous, well-rounded instructional program and will graduate prepared for success in college, career and life.

Challenge:

Chicago Public Schools employs 40,000 staff in hundreds of buildings across the Chicago area. As part of its commitment to expanding technology in classrooms and driving efficiency, the District needed to understand their application footprint and identify opportunities to consolidate applications and save money across their increasingly diverse computing infrastructure.

Solution:

The Flexera Software solution was implemented to collect and normalize the inventory of software titles and versions across the District, giving Chicago Public Schools visibility into the actual scope of their software estate. Armed with this new knowledge the team can quickly determine what applications are installed and where, giving them the foundation they need to initiate application rationalization projects and reduce the number of applications they manage.

Benefits:

  • Reduced the response time to answer management inquiries from 4 hours to 30 seconds, saving over 192 FTE hours a year.
  • Identified where end of life (EOL) software was installed and collaborated with the security team to remediate issues and reduce cyber security risk.
  • Make informed decisions to reduce new software purchases and negotiate more favorable software vendor contracts.
  • Data is easy to consume and does not require staff to have Microsoft SCCM access.

Paul Valente, Managed Services Support Lead at Chicago Public Schools (CPS), had considered an application portfolio rationalization project, but the manual process of normalizing inventory collected from over 130,000 Windows devices was overwhelming for a short-staffed IT team. He knew that with the number of devices they managed, the opportunity for savings in labor and spending could add up quickly.

They utilize Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) for discovery, but the sheer amount of data collected required a lot of manual sorting, categorizing, and collating in order to come up with an accurate inventory of software titles and versions. When management asked for the number of installations for a certain application, it often took over four man hours to come up with an accurate figure to satisfy the request. With an average of 50 such requests each year, his team was spending 200 hours per year manipulating System Center data. When he learned about the Flexera solution, he jumped on the opportunity to try it out.

Going into the project, the team thought they would identify around 5,000 software titles and versions. CPS fed the raw inventory data collected from Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager into the Flexera solution, including users, machines and site information from Active Directory. A cloud based Application Recognition Service automatically recognize, categorize and standardize the naming for more than 190,000 applications from over 16,000 software vendors. The result was a normalized inventory of applications and usage data for their 130,000 Microsoft Windows devices. The solution had identified over 29,000 different applications and versions, many more than they had previously estimated.