Health care provider saves with management software

Von Matt Hamblen

Allina Hospitals and Clinics recently moved 13,000 desktops at 100 locations in the Minneapolis area to Windows XP using Novell Inc."s ZENworks desktop management software and said it"s reaping benefits -- including easier hardware maintenance and faster upgrades.

"The results are starting to show in reduced issues and faster updates and maintenance," said Brad Myrvold, manager for desktop technology at the health care provider, which has 11 hospitals and 42 clinics operated by 22,000 employees.

Myrvold discussed the project in an interview for the first time since Allina first rolled out ZENworks in mid-1998 to deliver applications and patches over the network to desktops and to make operating system installs. The updates to the health care provider"s desktops was completed late last year.

Early in the use of ZENworks, Allina saw a 50 percent reduction in help desk calls; Myrvold said he expects a similar result with latest installs of Windows XP.

Although he wouldn"t detail the costs associated with using the Novell product, Myrvold said the return on investment with ZENworks has been "very rapid." Delivery of desktop applications via the network cut out manual delivery by IT staff, which he said "can make a huge difference in expenses quickly." Instead of weeks or days, it can take just hours to deliver an application to 13,000-plus desktops.

Allina performs nearly 500,000 automated updates and installs a year, according to Novell.

Novell sells ZENworks starting at US$130 per desktop. Its major competitors are Systems Management Server from Microsoft Corp., Altiris Inc. in Lindon, Utah, and LANDesk Software Inc. in South Jordan, Utah, a Novell spokesman said.