With licensing requirements changing each year, managing your schools’ software use can be quite a hassle. To keep track of the software used on 18,000 computers scattered throughout 126 schools, officials from the Albuquerque, N.M., Public Schools have turned to a solution called KeyServer, from Hanover, N.H.-based Sassafras Software—and the results have been terrific, they say.

Not only has KeyServer helped ensure Albuquerque’s compliance with its various licensing agreements; it’s also saved the district money in the process. By pinpointing software licenses that aren’t being used, KeyServer has enabled school officials to weed out unnecessary expenditures.

KeyServer is a software system that licenses, meters, manages, and audits a school district’s legal software compliance. It allows a network administrator to control access centrally to any Windows or Macintosh application running anywhere on the network. Besides offering 14 standard, built-in activity reports and an unlimited range of custom reports, KeyServer provides several important asset management functions that enable administrators to determine how much software is needed in each school, which licenses are being used, and where to find wasted licenses.

The software allows administrators to manage both single-user and concurrent-use licenses, helping them to realize the most efficient use possible. It also allows administrators to simplify the management of educational licensing systems such as those offered by Microsoft.

Albuquerque Public Schools administrators had no idea how many software applications their students were actually using. Officials chose KeyServer after learning they could purchase the system at a fraction of the cost of one software application, or approximately $12 per desktop. After purchasing KeyServer, they discovered that students were using only one-third of the district’s purchased applications, which meant that two-thirds of the licenses were sitting idle.

Albuquerque administrators use KeyServer to manage their licenses efficiently. If students can’t access particular software applications, KeyServer can determine whether rescheduling can alleviate high demand at particular times, or if there is a broader need for more licenses. Before KeyServer, the district purchased additional licenses to solve the problem without first analyzing their usage as they are able to do now.

“The whole idea is that you’re only paying for the number of licenses that you’re using,” said Ken Tuley, director of learning technologies for the district. “I don’t have to pay for a hundred licenses and have only 10 of them in use. Using the library check-out system available in KeyServer, I only pay for the 10 licenses that I’m using.”

KeyServer supports any Windows, Macintosh, NetWare, Linux, or Mac OS X Server computer. When a client, such as a lab or classroom computer, launches a KeyServer-controlled application, the computer silently checks with KeyServer for permission to continue the launch. KeyServer authenticates the user and checks for an available license.

If a single-user license previously has been assigned to that computer, or if there is a shared license available, KeyServer permits the launch. If no license is available, or if the user is not authorized to access that application, the launch is denied. If the license is a shared license, but the maximum number of licenses for that application are currently in use on the network, KeyServer places the user in a queue and notifies him or her when a license becomes available.

Tuley found that he spends little to no time administrating the system. He only needs to administer KeyServer when adding new licenses to the network, and he estimates this takes him only seconds. In fact, he is even able to do this process from home through a secure, browser-based interface, alleviating the need to visit the server room continually.

The district also benefits from KeyServer’s auditing functions. “When our internal auditor conducted audits of our software licenses, it was an easy process,” said Tuley. “With KeyServer he could conduct the audits in a fraction of the time, without disruption. The reports were so detailed that he was satisfied immediately.”

With KeyServer, Tuley doesn’t worry about the district’s software getting stolen, because all software is “keyed” so that unauthorized copies will be rendered useless if removed from the network. Before KeyServer, Tuley didn’t know whether copies of the district’s software were being pirated, because he had no way to monitor the system. He said it would have been very easy for someone to copy and eMail a software application without any detection.

“As we continue to find ways to stretch our technology dollars, this is the package that is going to help the budget,” Tuley added. “I think it’s a product that should be on everyone’s school network.”

Related links:
Albuquerque Public Schools

Sassafras Software