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Sysman BuildKey, TEM and Imaging Computers

Posted: February 27, 2013

For the past several years, Ag IT has been able to work with staff in county extension offices to remotely “image” new and troublesome computers. In the interest of utilizing the greater IT resources offered at Penn State, Ag IT is starting to implement a new technology called the Sysman BuildKey to simplify and streamline the process of imaging computers.

Ag IT has recently begun testing a new process for remotely imaging computers in county extension offices. This new process, referred to as the Sysman BuildKey process, allows Ag IT to take advantage of IT resources at Penn State to simplify and streamline the process for imaging computers.

How does the Sysman Buildkey work?

The Sysman Buildkey process is quite simple. From within the county office, a user will plug a formatted USB drive (provided by Ag IT) into a Buildkey eligible computer and enter a few keystrokes. The operating system and other standard software programs are automatically installed over the network. Once the standard software is installed, an Ag IT Support Specialist works with the users to install any customized software programs that are needed. Any Dell computer purchased from the recommended Dell bundles on eBuy are eligible for imaging with the Buildkey process, along with some older model Dells.

How is this better than what we are used to?

With the current imaging process, Ag IT is required to update or customize a version of Windows and save it as an “image” on each county server. The process of creating the image is extremely time consuming and must be performed each time new models of computers become available. With the latest Dell purchasing agreement, new discounted models could be released as frequently as three times a year.

Penn State's central ITS unit has a Sysman team that has developed the BuildKey process for imaging computers. This process ties into the Tivoli EndPoint Management (TEM) program that is installed on all Extension computers and is used to automatically install software and updates on computers. The Sysman team bears the burden of updating their BuildKey each time new models are released, a process significantly less time consuming than Ag IT's current process.

With this new process, Ag IT only has to work with staff in the extension office to periodically update the USB drive that is used to initiate the imaging process.

When can we expect to begin using the Sysman Buildkey?

We are currently pilot testing the BuildKey process in two counties, Huntingdon and Dauphin. Our plan is to continue to roll this technology out to the rest of the extension offices within the year. 

If you have any questions or would like more information on Sysman, the BuildKey process or TEM, please feel free to contact the Ag IT Helpdesk.