Migrated from tools that took weeks to learn to being able to train nontechnical staff on Systems Manager in a few hours
5x productivity increase by leveraging APIs to automate repetitive tasks and navigate simple workflows on the Meraki dashboard
Superior security and ease of deployment through deep integration with Cisco Umbrella, painlessly scaling from 30 apps to 200 apps
Nestled just 30 miles outside the bustling, live music hub of Austin, Texas, sits the quaint suburb of Pflugerville. This city within Travis County serves as the namesake for the Pflugerville Independent School District, which encompasses approximately 95 square miles and covers 6 municipalities, including the state’s capital.
Starting as young as kindergarten, students use iPads or tablets on a daily basis for their learning, but this does not make them experts in IT. Take a look behind the curtain at a school district’s hardworking IT team. These individuals are tasked with making sure each device going home with a student or being used in a classroom is up-to-date, secure, user friendly, and ready for learning.For the Pflugerville Independent School District (PFISD), the individual behind the curtain is Sean Singleton. Sean is the only mobile device management (MDM) specialist for the district, which has 25,000 students attending 30 schools. This means countless hours are spent customizing and provisioning the district’s 6,500+ devices.As the district grew and the need for more devices continued to increase, Sean was left managing numerous ad-hoc requests and requirement updates. It was vital for him and his small team to combat the rapidly growing workload while keeping in mind the end user’s capabilities and experience. He needed a system that was simple to understand to cut down on training time, but also effective and customizable to suit the growing IT needs of the district.
While the team had already been using Meraki Systems Manager (SM) for all the district’s iOs
devices, the need for increased automation was clear. In addition, the young age of most device
users was revealing challenges in the use of the self-service capabilities available. As more students were joining the district and with some moving to hybrid schooling, it was vital for Sean to get things automated to avoid error and grievances while maintaining security
Luckily, the Meraki platform provided the team at PFISD with a new level of flexibility. Sean was able to get creative. He became a master of Systems Manager and the Meraki dashboard by deploying
efficient enrollment and configuration using the SM API to automatically add and update tags. This automation helps avoid errors and saves time by replicating settings and configurations from selected devices to new devices through tagging. With bulk tagging and tag removal, the team can
avoid repetitive, manual clicking. Ahhh, the sign of relief for time saved.
Don’t let the simplicity of the dashboard stop you from creating your own unique solutions with the APIs.
Pflugerville Independent School District
Sean was also able to further curate the capabilities, still providing self-service, but with a twist. Self-service tags made setup easier for the end user and the team could automatically install assigned apps by sending a custom link to the device, which is simple enough for young students to click on without lengthy instructions. One click and done. Granting access could also be automated with the activation lock bypass API. Local campus technicians can send a message to a custom Slack bot, which sends an API call to unlock devices without any action from the admin. This allows teachers to bypass the activation lock after verifying identity via SSO and quickly troubleshoot in familiar situations. Again, saving time for Sean’s team while improving the end user experience and maintaining—and actually improving—security.
When hybrid learning grew across the district, Sean was able to apply restricted profiles to block students from adding personal app store IDs to school devices from home. The integration with Cisco Umbrella ensures superior security and ease of deployment. All these features allowed the team to painlessly scale from 30 apps to 200, just like that.
PFISD did not have to add resources to their team, even as they more than doubled their devices. They were able to seamlessly pivot to the increase in at-home learning without compromising security or adding wasted time to their workload. By combining workflow simplicity and extensive
use of APIs, Sean can save at least 80% of the time required to manage the growing number of devices. By making the most out of the ever-flexible Meraki platform, Sean has turned an overwhelming job into a creative and enjoyable experience.
Systems Manager is so simple that it’s hard to mess up.