School IT staff must do more with less

California’s Monterey County Office of Education spans more than 3,700 square miles and is larger than the state of Delaware. This rural county, about two hours south of San Francisco, has 150 schools, 24 school districts, and more than 70,000 students—66 percent of whom receive free or reduced-price lunches, and many of whom are ESL students.

The county office directly supports roughly 900 devices with only four IT employees.

Scott Sexsmith, executive director of technology and information services for the Monterey County Office of Education, has more than 30 years of experience in the industry. He says budget cuts have been tough.

“Our office helps with curriculum but also with alternative ed, migrant ed, special ed, and Head Start offices—all of which are spread throughout the county in different districts and are therefore located behind district firewalls. It can be a two-hour drive between schools sometimes,” Sexsmith explained. “It takes a lot of time to send someone to one of these locations, and a lot of money [for] gas.”

Sexsmith said the county needed to manage diverse, non-standardized equipment behind firewalls in spread-out locations.

“It’s hard to know where computers are because many classes, like migrant and special-education classes, move locations. We needed to report where they are, their lifecycles—especially for federal purposes and management—and we needed to manage computer anti-virus [and] anti-malware,” he said.

According to Sexsmith, the county sent out an RFP and received multiple responses from many vendors, but Kaseya stood out as a company that was interested in the county’s unique needs, instead of prescribing a rigid set of products.

“The company really came into the education market in the last year or so, but it’s a large global company. We were impressed when the president of the company came down about a year ago to talk to us. They really cared about the county’s needs and asked thorough questions; you could really tell they cared and were different from other companies,” said Sexsmith.

After Kaseya won the RFP, the county paid with federal stimulus funding it had set aside for improving IT efficiencies.

“Kaseya is cost-friendly and competitive,” said Sexsmith. “They’re also an evolving company, so they can offer good prices. And they’re in the process of trying to eliminate third-party software products that are currently part of the Kaseya product so the company can provide better pricing—this is cost-appealing to the county.”

According to Castro, what makes Kaseya different from other vendors is the one-stop shopping aspect of its product suite.

“It’s an integrated suite, so it can be one set of tasks or a suite of tasks. There’s an easy entry point and a single code base. We’re not a large vendor that needs lots of integration time. Delivery is acquired on-premise or through the cloud, and the number of devices that can be supported is limitless. And there are many types of licenses available,” he said.

Sexsmith said that only four people in the county are managing all networks, but they were able to implement Kaseya, VMware, and Kaspersky, all at an enterprise level, within a six-week period.

Meris Stansbury

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