Acronis recovers lost time
Konica Minota is a global document imaging and processing company. It used to make stand-alone products such as photo-copiers and printers but then the addition of intelligence meant it was possible to build multi-function devices that were networked as part of an organisation's IT infrastructure.
This was good; one device could provide copying, faxing, and printing functions for a group of users saving money. But there was a support downside; service engineers had to be more skilled as the number and complexity of potential problems per machine multiplied hugely.
That meant that Konica Minolta had to work harder to train them. Paul Johnston, a Technical Systems and Solutions Trainer at the firm, said: "It was ... essential that we made technical training a top priority for all our sales and services representatives."
In the UK Konica Minolta set up a new training facility at Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire. It runs courses of three days duration pretty much back-to-back throughout the year; that's around 100 courses a year for up to 20 students. Each student has the use of a PC which has been freshly loaded with software and problem information just for that course.
When a course finishes the PC has to have the student's course files and data scrubbed and a fresh set of course files installed for the next student. With twenty PCs to work on this is tedious and time-consuming, taking up to four hours to accomplish.
Over the course of a year this meant some 400 hours, more than three working weeks, was needed just for this task.
As the courses run consecutively it means that the trainers had to set up the PCs for the new course in the evenings, early mornings or at weekends. This was onerous and Johnston looked for an automated way of doing this essentially repetitive work.
He thought disk imaging was the right approach; treat the entire set of software:O/S and applications; folders and files, as one logical file and stream it all onto the PC's hard drive in one bare-metal restore operation. That sounded good but he ran into problems as he evaluated products; they weren't reliable or stable enough. "This was the case with several well-known brands, including Symantec's Ghost product," he said, "and it was with a great deal of frustration that we returned to our original system of a manual system restore and the apparently never-ending prospect of early mornings or late nights."
It was then suggested to him that he try out Acronis' Snap deploy and he decided to give disk imaging one final go-round. Johnston said: "I remember thinking I'd give disk imaging one more shot and, if this software didn't work, I'd have to look for a different way to solve our problem."
He didn't have to. Acronis Snap Deploy did what the specification said it would do; build a master disk image and stream it to each incoming student's PC in one operation so that it could be reliably started up and function exactly as it was meant to. Deployment was a snap.