Data Networks uses a proven, flexible staffing approach to gear up for the project, carefully screening and hiring up to 80 temporary staff members (including many veteran resources) and gathering them for orientation prior to kickoff. By conducting comprehensive orientation sessions, Data Networks ensures that its site teams are fully prepped and qualified to begin working with MCPS leadership and staff from day one.
As the summer begins, Data Networks helps MCPS manage the receiving and inventory control associated with multiple, large Dell computer shipments. Data Networks’ status as a Premier Partner and one of Dell’s largest education resellers allows us to prearrange the shipment and delivery of all new equipment to meet any customer’s specific requirements.
For MCPS, equipment was staged, configured, and deployed from the school system’s own facilities, putting the equipment close to the final installation sites and simplifying the engagement of MCPS staff where required.
For similar customer engagements we often bring our Maryland-based Staging and Configuration Center (SCC) into play. With access to 100,000 sq ft of storage, the SCC is purpose-built for storing and preparing computer hardware for installation. Fully configurable pods are equipped with secure, high-speed Internet access and the latest equipment for PC imaging and testing, with particular attention paid to facility layout, security, ergonomics and automation of tasks.
Shipments of computers and peripherals can be scheduled to arrive at the SCC based on the timeline for school site installations. Because the facility is a single point of delivery for the project, Data Networks team members can perform complete pre-installation configuration on each piece of equipment from a controlled, central location.
To deploy specified operating systems and software to each computer, Data Networks uses hard drive duplicators to replicate the image of a “master” PC provided by MCPS. Each duplicator can image-replicate up to 16 PCs at a time in approximately 10 minutes, a significant accomplishment given that MCPS’ master image is more than 60GB in size.
The duplicators are first used to replicate master images to three workstations that are used as test platforms connected to a temporary network. These test workstations are then configured by Data Networks and provided to MCPS team members for evaluation, verifying accurate image replication including disk partitioning and software installation. Once the “master” images and their replication have been validated, the duplicators are used to image individual school sites’ computers.
Prior to installation at each school, Data Networks helps MCPS arrange the equipment paperwork including a site map (which shows exactly where each workstation is to be installed) and asset tagging that needs to be applied to each device indicating its machine name and IP address.
Each school also has an on-site staging area dedicated to pre-installation tasks. The school’s equipment arrives palletized at its staging area, all equipment including peripherals is counted and these counts are compared to the planned inventory for the site.
As the workstations are installed and asset tagged, onsite logistics frequently pose a significant challenge. Devices or peripherals sometimes need to have their room assignments changed. Equipment needs to be returned to the manufacturer and replaced. While events like these would normally delay a project’s go-live schedule, Data Networks’ experience keeps the project on track.
Once all workstations are connected, Data Networks leads a checklist-centered testing effort at the school to ensure each PC and its peripheral components function in accordance with Dell and MCPS specifications – from booting up to network connectivity to printing. A final “walk-through” on the last day of onsite activities confirms that there are no deviations.
Just prior to the beginning of the new school year, school staff and teachers return to make final preparations. Data Networks simultaneously begins a final “go-live support” phase during which team leads are onsite observing and working with MCPS administrative staff and teachers to confirm all installed equipment performs daily in-school functions as expected. Data Networks resolves any issues as they arise through the use of a “Deviation List” circulated among Data Networks and MCPS team members regularly through go-live support.
MCPS’ TechMod requires the experience, precision and responsiveness that Data Networks delivers to every deployment engagement, year after year. On-time performance is the only acceptable outcome.
“It takes real implementation process experts like Data Networks to meet this annual challenge,” says Rich McCoy, End User Computing Manager for Data Networks. “We look forward to working with MCPS every summer!”