National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association (NBA), one of the most recognized entertainment companies in the world, relies on R2K professional services for its software management needs.
Software Distribution & Management
In 1999, the NBA selected and installed Novadigm's Enterprise Desktop Manager (EDM) system to distribute and manage software for its 1,200 desktop users. The NBA required an industrial strength solution that could manage a large number of users and applications across multiple geographically dispersed locations.
"The pressure and pace of the professional basketball business depends on a software infrastructure that can be responsive to frequent changes and still be reliable as well," said Garth Case, Senior Director for New Technology at the NBA. "That's why we went with Novadigm. EDM's desired state software management fit right into our overall vision of centralized software distribution and management of our desktops."
The current Novadigm implementation at the NBA consists of a production EDM Manager and stager in the central MIS location with additional stagers in 3 regional offices. Each regional office connects into the central EDM Manager on high speed ATM links. In addition to the regional offices, additional desktops are located in NBA storefronts and warehouses. There are plans to expand the implementation to include 8 international sites as well. Of the 1,200 clients total managed by EDM, 80% are in locations in the Metro NY-NJ area. The remaining clients are distributed in offices that range from as few as 10 desktops to as many as 20 desktops.
The distribution process consists of notifying selective desktops of a new or updated application via a server side push. Upon notification, the desktops are assigned a stager according to their location. When desktop clients subsequently connect to the EDM Manager, they will receive the files and resources from the stager in their region, greatly reducing network bandwidth requirements.
While the general design and architecture of the Novadigm system was sound and the initial installation was successful, the NBA implementation encountered a series of operational challenges over time that was reducing the effectiveness of the system and prompting negative feedback from the desktop users.
The design of the original EDM system used IP addressing to communicate with the desktops. However, in a TCP/IP network utilizing DHCP, IP addresses are transient over time. As a result, the success rate of mass notifications degraded over time as the IP addresses naturally changed.
Regional offices were experiencing very long processing times during manager connects often leading to network timeouts and failed deployments. Due to the sheer complexity and sensitivity of the system to user errors, only highly trained personnel could be entrusted to work with the EDM system, even for mundane tasks such as assigning applications to users.
Since notifications were normally performed during business hours, employees were left unproductive during EDM client processing. Users often believed the system was frozen and would reboot their machines in the middle of the connect processing. Limited reporting and diagnostic tools impeded daily system management and made proactive efforts to improve the performance of the system difficult.
R2K worked with the NBA team over a three-month period to implement solutions for problem areas, improve system performance, and generate detailed documents with technical analysis and procedural recommendations."The power and flexibility of the Novadigm solution is important to understand and manage," said Richard Yien, R2K's President. "Our Software Management Practice has focused on best practices and techniques for an ongoing, long-term Novadigm operation, not just an initial installation and configuration."
R2K's work at the NBA included the following activities.
- Ensured that EDM clients can be identified by hostname, rather than IP address in all connect scripts and other references in the system
- Provided a friendly user-interface during notification that allows users the opportunity to defer application updates until a more convenient time
- Created custom profiles such that assigning applications to users can be done by help desk staff without fear of unintended changes to the system being made
- Analyzed manager/stager architecture and provided custom scripts and configurable parameters for dynamic stager assignment
- Developed an extensive management reporting infrastructure including:
- Monitoring notification progress
- Tracking of user connection metrics by region, time of day, and applications
- Accounting of active desktops and applications managed by EDM
- Capturing overall success rate / failure rate
These enhancements to the Novadigm system resulted in a much stronger software distribution solution that could be more easily maintained and managed."R2K took the time to listen to us and understand the Novadigm issues we were experiencing. Then, they came back with a technical plan to address these issues that made sense," said Mr. Case. "The results-oriented attitude and hard work of the R2K team enabled us to rescue the EDM installation at the NBA." Some of the detailed results include:
- Enterprise-wide notifications work smoothly now due to the combination of EDM manager and stager optimizations and configuration changes
- Performance bottlenecks on the manager have been greatly reduced as the load is now properly distributed among the stagers
- Client processing is more efficient and less intrusive to users
- With the combination of system configuration, script modifications, and reporting, the NBA can fully track the progress of an enterprise-wide deployment
- The reporting results allowed the LAN administration staff to take corrective measures to ensure highly reliable application deployments going forward
- Extensive reporting now provides a way for MIS management to accurately determine ROI
R2K's expert staff provided the NBA not only with a more reliable EDM system, but also with a more complete software management solution that results in stable desktop environments, better responsiveness, and increased manageability - as well as meeting future needs and demands.