Since the beginning of last year we've been attending the UKs National Health Service (NHS) User Group meetings in London. These events, organised by Novell, focus on sharing experiences and knowledge around Novell products.
Several weeks after an initial presentation about Bundle Commander, a group of NHS customers started evaluating Bundle Commander Professional Edition. One of the evaluators was Paul Smith of the HSCIC, the Health & Social Care Information Centre, based in Leeds UK. Paul is Desktop Technology Manager at HSCIC and responsible for the management of more than 2500 Windows 7 desktops. HSCIC uses Novells ZENworks Configuration Management and ENGLs Imaging Toolkit for Windows OS deployment and application management.
Having to deal with several challenges managing the HSCIC environment, Paul was at first sceptical about allocating valuable resources to another new solution around desktop management. But, having to deal with several application deployment challenges in one week, in December of last year Paul decided to start with the Professional Edition himself in order to convince his team of the advantages of using Bundle Commander; saving time and improving quality on their Windows bundles.
The Bundle Commander team quickly followed up on all the questions and suggestions Paul had. We brought in valuable knowledge and experience. Something which some vendors would describe as Professional Services. To inform other NHS user group members Paul shared detailed feedback on the Novell NHS User Group Forum on LinkedIn. His feedback is shown below.
Of course we were honoured by Paul for his response. Paul allowed us to share this story on social media: e.g. https://plus.google.com/+Bundlecommander/posts/YmtNhiDp8v4.
There are two things we would like to add to his comments here.
We have a very good technology partnership with Flexera. Because of this partnership, we were able to add support for the AdminStudio Repackager to the Professional Edition of Bundle Commander. The Standard Edition of AdminStudio is distributed by Novell with ZENworks Configuration Management. To emphasise this partnership and that both products are complimentary, weve created a white paper about this integration with AdminStudio, which is available from http://goo.gl/0uZWxj
Paul refers to the import/export capabilities for Windows bundles. When this article goes to print, we will have started beta testing this functionality with selected customers. Basically we want to explore sharing bundles within vertical markets. Provided licensing and EULAs are properly dealt with, it would be great if customers like NHS members could share their bundles with each other more quickly and easily in order to save time and therefore money on not only packaging, but also the deployment and the parameters for that.
Customers like the HSCIC already have seen a preview of this technology, which will be discussed in depth at the next NHS User Group meeting, in a future Open Horizons Magazine article and on our website.
Well it took quite a bit of effort to get most of my team to actually look at it. I am pretty sure some of my team immediately wrote it off as something we wouldn't benefit from. Thoughts like: We use AdminStudio (and Enterprise edition at that), We are good packagers, We know how to bundle and bundle well or It won't package to our chosen approach.
I found myself suggesting that we try Bundle Commander whenever I overheard someone raise a packaging query. Eventually one by one the team did give in, probably just to shut me up.
This is the result, and to cut a story short I am in the process of requesting the purchasing of a subscription for Bundle Commander. A three year subscription at that. I have to say the NHS pricing offered by ROVABU Software is excellent and you have to tip your hat to them for pricing it so competitively.
My team and I are now in early discussions as to whether we need to renew our Enterprise Edition of AdminStudio, switching back to the ZENworks Standard Edition or maybe exploring other lower cost / free tools to supplement as required. If we achieve this, then the cost of the three year subscription for Bundle Commander is near recouped in the first year.
The overriding feedback is that it will be of significant help. The Application Setup Center looks after where the source installer downloads for common applications are located, so we don't have to maintain that list. The knowledge of how to package an application quickly - though not necessarily how we would normally choose to do so - using the in-built Customisation Wizards for some of the applications like Adobe Reader and iTunes, shave multiple minutes off a packaging process. Each time, not just once, and off a process that we thought was pretty efficient already.
If you think about how Bundle Commander could aid new application packagers or those who are new to working with creating bundles in ZENworks Configuration Management; this solution could be of significant help here.
Bundle Commander isn't the finished article, I think ROVABU Software will acknowledge that. It does however have a lot going for it right now and a massive amount of promise. I have been blown away by the responsiveness of ROVABU Software to queries and suggestions for the tool. For me out of everything this bodes well for the future of the tool.
I am still thinking about the collaboration opportunities with the tool. If we can share the knowledge of how to package some of our common applications, whether they are clinical or just everyday Windows applications, pushing these into the Application Setup Center for others to share, then we could all benefit.
If the import/export capability of Bundle Commander is developed to include the content, it replaces the need for the command line export commands. This could be used where inclusion in the Application Setup Center isn't suitable.
The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) is the UKs national provider of information, data and IT systems for health and social care and was set up in April 2013. Its responsibilities include:
- Collecting, analysing and presenting national health and social care data
- Setting up and managing national IT systems for transferring, collecting and analysing information.
- Publishing a set of rules (called a Code of Practice) to set out how the personal confidential information of patients should be handled and managed by health and care staff and organisations
- Building up a library of indicators that can be used to measure the quality of health and care services
- Acting to reduce how much paperwork doctors, nurses and care workers have to complete
- Helping health and care organisations improve the quality of the data they collect
- Creating a register of all the information that we collect and produce
HSCIC supports the delivery of IT infrastructure, information systems and standards to ensure information flows efficiently and securely across the health and social care system, to improve patient outcomes.
One of the systems managed is NHSmail, a secure email service. It is the only NHS email system accredited to UK Government Restricted status approved by the Department of Health. NHSmail is available for use by any organisation commissioned to deliver NHS healthcare or related activities. More than half-a-million staff already use NHSmail on a daily basis in England and Scotland.
(This article first appeared in Open Horizons Magazine, Issue 25, p15-16, April 2014)