Software Lets Canadian CU Monitor Desktops

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Tom Kimber can instantly scan BCU Financial's approximately 150 desktop computers at 10 branches to determine which are due for an overhaul.

Using an automated inventory management system from Centennial Software and a few mouse clicks, the credit union's network specialist identifies the PCs across the organization that have less powerful processors.

"We're replacing all our computers, monitors and Microsoft Exchange servers in phases," Kimber said. "We recently used Centennial to find out which computers had processors with less than 400 megahertz and switched out those to computers with 600 megahertz. The computers with less than 600 megahertz processors will be the next to go."

The Swindon, United Kingdom-based Centennial Software provides IT asset management and discovery solutions.

In support of BCU's asset management strategy, Centennial's Discovery platform identifies the physical location and user of any asset with an IP address. Discovery audits BCU's network every night, reporting on the licensing, hardware and software inventories and compliance of every asset.

Discovery also features an Upgrade Costing Wizard to guide budgeting.

"Discovery finds everything on the network," Kimber explained. "The program tells us where each computer is and if we've moved it."

While Kimber spoke with The Credit Union Journal, he clicked to update the $343-million CU's inventory, revealing 214 items, including 104 desktop computers, 10 routers and switches, nine servers, one phone system, one interactive voice-response unit, and a few digital security cameras at the main branch.

When an asset is missing, Discovery "grays-out" the asset. "We can then find out if the asset is gone or if there's a problem with it," Kimber said. "That way we can keep track of inventory and gain peace of mind about inventory loss," he added.

The web-based solution is accessible from any of BCU's branches. Discovery helps BCU maintain an IT standard that is uniform across the credit union, Kimber continued.

"If any hardware or software is removed or added, we also know about it," he said. "When we first used Discovery in 2002, we found hardware and dangerous file types that shouldn't have been on the computers."

BCU's instant asset discovery is a far cry from the previous manual inventory process, which ate up one month of IT staff time every year, Kimber said.

"We used to go to each of our 10 locations three times a year with a pad of paper, take notes on our IT assets, and then enter the notes into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet at headquarters," he said.

Kimber runs the inventory management solution after hours nightly so that Discovery doesn't detract from network performance.

The 18,500-member BCU Financial was chartered in 1952 as Battlefords Credit Union.

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For additional information:

* BCU Financial at www.bcufinancial.ca

* Centennial Software at www.centennial-software.com

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