UCL undergoes IT education with Universal Imaging Utility

The Information Systems department provides IT facilities for both staff and students throughout the university. With such a large and dispersed operation, managing the university's IT needs from its Bloomsbury location is very challenging. Information Systems supports over 3, 000 PCs under its 'managed PCs' service and is required to maintain workstations that hold identical software and numerous types of drivers. This needs to be done in a cost effective and scalable manner.

The management of enterprise applications requires substantial effort within many large educational institutions. Software updates, patches, new versions and industry-specific solutions all have to be installed and set up to meet varied desktop, laptop, storage-drive and controller requirements. When device drivers are brought into the equation, it becomes even more complicated.

Software-based cloning was already in place at UCL. The cloning package UCL uses to update its computers is a proprietary programme, developed by the technical team and based on PXE/Linux and NTFSclone. Even with that, UCL still had to create and maintain 15-20 master images to support the various brands of desktops at multiple sites within the organisation. The technology limitations restricted the Information Systems team to using an increasingly limited range of hardware suppliers, as every hardware change could inherently require a new image to be created and/or deployed.

Binary Resource UK originally introduced the Universal Imaging Utility to UCL in August 2005 when the university purchased a 3, 000 seat license to run the product across its IT network. A relatively new product, UIU enables users to prepare a single, hardware-independent master image file, thus greatly reducing the time and expense associated with image creation and maintenance. Using UIU, UCL is now able to maintain just a few master images throughout its environment of disparate desktops. The license was subsequently renewed by UCL in September 2006.

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