In order to help minimize the added workload while deploying thousands of new devices as part of our PPEL-funded technology initiative this past summer, the district has implemented a piece of software called Casper Suite to manage OSX (Mac) and iOS (iPad) devices district-wide. This server-based software, locally hosted on one of our servers, provides solutions for deployment and reimaging, software distribution and updates, and remote management and analysis tools.
Whereas reimaging computers is often a regular process for school districts and other large organizations, necessitated by operating system and software updates, Casper allows for a package-based imaging system whereby operating system updates, software patches and additions, and system settings can be managed through remote deployment of small packages, rather than wholesale reimaging of all computers. Further, Casper allows this management to be done based upon computer group membership on our Active Directory server, so – for instance – adding Firefox to all staff laptops is as simple as assigning a Firefox installation package to the ADM Staff Laptop group. In this example, the time it takes to deploy Firefox to all staff laptops would be measured in minutes, rather than hours or days.
Casper also gives technology staff the ability to remotely control screens, install software, modify network and other system settings, and perform other operations such as printer installations. If the district needs to change one of its wireless network passwords, for instance, the new settings can be sent out to all district computers nearly instantaneously.
Beyond OSX-based computers, Casper also provides management and inventory capability for iOS devices, such as iPads. Enrolled iPads are automatically entered into Casper’s inventory, and receive any security, network, or other policies that they’ve been assigned. Further, users have access to a Self Service app, that allows the iPad to gain controlled access to district-owned iPad apps and web resources.