Stone Group - Providing digital transformation solutions to organisations across the UK.

Background

Holding a reputation as an international centre of research and teaching excellence, the University of Bath is highly ranked for student satisfaction, graduate employment and overall performance. With a mission to deliver world-class education experiences, the university aims to help students become future leaders and innovators and supports this by investing in new facilities, technology and infrastructure.

After initially attending the university as a student 22 years ago, Adrian Hooper, a Service Manager, has been working within the Digital, Data and Technology (DD&T) division since 2001. DD&T support the university by providing secure and reliable IT. As part of his role, Adrian manages 3 teams who oversee IT support across several departments, including the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Engineering and Design, and a number of public access areas including PCs within the library and the teaching rooms. The Library and teaching spaces include around 1300 PCs which Adrian and his team are responsible for the maintenance and support of.

Situation

The university library is a central hub for teaching, learning and research, and boasts an IT estate of around 600 PCs. “The library is an important area and very busy. It’s open 24 hours a day,  365 days a year, so we aim to replace equipment on a 5-year basis. This ensures it is up-to-date and reliable, and helps us provide a good experience for the students.”

The library is also visible to prospective students and visitors from outside of the university; for instance, during tours and open days. “The library is used to showcase the university’s technology and facilities,” said Adrian, “so it’s important that the PCs are modern.”

  • Through strategic procurement over the years, they’ve developed a cycle where typically just over 100 PCs are replaced in any given year. In 2019, 100 desktops in the main library area were approaching 4 and a half years old and needed updating. They were slowing down, difficult to manage and lacked the storage capacity required despite expanding the hard drives the year prior.

    “The computers were becoming outdated and less reliable. Although they featured Intel® i7 processors, these were 4th Generation, and technology has changed a lot since we initially purchased them.” Adrian explained, “We’d also had feedback that the students felt the monitors were too small.”

    The university outlined what they were looking for and went to tender via the NDNA framework. Stone won the bid, securing a 3-year contract with the university on Lot 3 (One-Stop-Shop) as a HP reseller.

Solution

Adrian described how Stone had supplied the university with Stone PCs and iiyama monitors in recent years via the NDNA, and that it had been a positive experience. Stone are a first-ranked supplier on the framework and are placed across all 3 Lots with their own branded kit and HP equipment.

The universities dedicated account manager at Stone listened to understand project timelines and worked with Adrian and his team to ensure the most beneficial solution was selected. Adrian discussed how the existing devices took up a lot of space, didn’t look neat and lacked adjustability. Furthermore, the setup of the different components made IT maintenance and fixes more challenging. He and his team wanted to reduce clutter and simplify IT management by implementing a complete solution that could be supported as one unit.

The device chosen was the HP ProDesk 600 G4 Mini PC, a stylish, ultra-small form factor desktop that’s designed to create a modern workspace. Featuring NVMe SSD storage and an 8th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 vPro™ processor, the new computers offer far greater reliability, speed and performance for the students, as well as simplified manageability for Adrian and his teams.

“The new PCs are much faster and easier to manage, but importantly they’re quiet. The old PCs had a lot of aging fans and this made them very noisy – as you can imagine they would when they’ve been used all day, every day for over 4 years.” Adrian explained, “The new computers are basically silent, which is far better for a library environment where quiet study takes place.”

The devices were to be paired with HP EliteDisplay 23.8” FHD IPS monitors. These business-class displays offer crisp, anti-glare viewing and 4-way adjustability, so users can find their most comfortable, productive position to work through their projects.

“We standardised the monitors to 24-inch from 21.5-inch as larger screens were what the students preferred.” Adrian said, “The old monitors were touchscreen, but many of the students didn’t really use this feature. The touchscreens are used more in lecture theatres and seminar rooms than in the library, and we’ve had no issues with the new non-touch displays.”

To create a clutter-free solution, the ProDesk devices were secured to the displays to create an all-in-one solution. “Each PC is neatly mounted on to the back of a monitor, creating a neat, small footprint set-up that’s far easier to maintain from an IT perspective.” Adrian said, “The students also appreciate the height adjustable stands which the old monitors didn’t have, as well as the improved image quality and screen size.”

Adrian’s team are able to image devices on site, so Stone took care of any other configurations beforehand. When the delivery date came, Stone engineers arrived promptly and completed the entire installation. “Stones installation team arrived onsite by 9 o’clock and got straight to it.” Adrian explained, “Stone handled the Windows 10 BIOS configuration prior to delivery, which meant they were plugged in and ready for us to start imaging them which was great.”

Adrian concluded that the in addition to the performance and manageability benefits, the new kit looks modern, neat and stylish, which is critical as they are in a flagship area of the university. There are plans to update a large number of back office PCs in the next year or so, and speaking of the future of the partnership, Adrian said, “The installation process went very well, and we will be working with Stone on projects in the near future.”

Stones installation team arrived onsite by 9 o’clock and got straight to it.

The installation process went very well, and we will be working with Stone on projects in the near future.

Adrian Hooper, Service Manager

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