CrossTec EMS contains a wealth of features designed to make School IT Management much easier while increasing student safety and well being.
Often the dangers facing students follow an identifiable path. The sooner teachers and administrators can identify that path, the faster intervention can occur.
Dangers like pornography, radicalization, bullying, grooming, drug use, eating disorders, or racism, among others, are often propagated electronically through instant messaging, email and websites. EMS’ eSafety module uses keyword and phrase monitoring to alert staff members of any online activity that may place a student at risk including internet monitoring of websites visited, as well as the option for students to report concerns directly to trusted staff. This gives school staff the tools to combat modern electronic dangers in a meaningful way.
EMS is also a powerful, full blown IT Asset Management product. Features include: automatic discovery of devices, hardware and software inventory, change tracking and software license management, energy monitoring, power management, USB endpoint security, printer monitoring, application and internet metering, a flexible alerting suite, and an easy-to-use software distribution module.
For education environments, CrossTec EMS® is designed first and foremost to be easy to install and use. Download a free 30-day trial for up to 50 devices and be operational within 30 minutes – without the need to use third-party services or send any of your data outside of your network.
IT Asset Management and Hardware Inventory
If decisions on upgrades and the roll out of new technology are to be taken from an informed position, then information is key. With this in mind, CrossTec EMS® software provides one of the most comprehensive and detailed Hardware Inventory modules available on the market today.
A wealth of information for specific PCs is provided ranging from CPU and BIOS types to memory, memory slots used and those available for future expansion. Information is presented either for a specific PC or for departments summarized by category, such as by Operating System, CPU, Video Card or Memory.
Inventory reports are displayed either for a single PC, a selected Department, condition based “Dynamic Group” or for the Company.
Hardware Inventory updates can be configured to run at different time intervals. Specific settings can be applied for the Company or for separate departments. The EMS operator is able to run a quick Inventory update at any time.
Ensuring the most accurate information is always available, EMS provides the option to add details of associated items manually, such as a PDA or Mobile Phone, and provides a standalone Inventory scan of a non-networked PC which can be added to the EMS database.
Software Inventory and Licensing
CrossTec EMS® helps organizations manage license compliance and reduce software overspend by accurately reporting installed software and proactively identifying PC’s with software that has no or low usage.
Featuring a detailed summary of all installed programs and applications detected on each PC, CrossTec EMS displays this information for either a selected PC, a department or custom group. Full support for recording, tracking and the management of software licenses and maintenance contracts is included.
Recognizing that often there are many different versions of a common application in use, EMS provides the ability to create customized Application Groups, where all such versions are grouped together for more effective reporting.
Inventory reports are displayed either for a single PC, Department, Dynamic Group or for the overall Company.
CrossTec EMS® offers multi-platform support for Windows and Linux systems.
Software Inventory reports both Programs installed (ex MS Office Professional) and Applications installed (ex MS Word, Excel etc).
CrossTec EMS® also provides a File Scan option whereby specified file types can be located on PC’s. This could be used to ensure documents are not being stored locally and missing company backup routines or to enforce the companies policy on the misuse of copyrighted digital materials such as music and video files.
Receive notifications of any new devices that join the network and choose whether to deploy an agent automatically.
Once EMS is installed and operational in your enterprise, it will constantly monitor the network and identify any new devices that join, providing the option to automatically deploy an agent for future management.
SNMP Device Discovery
The SNMP Discovery view allows EMS to be configured to scan a range of network addresses and report on any new network devices discovered, such as printers and access points. These items are then stored within EMS and real-time data (such as ink or toner levels) can be monitored from the console.
The SNMP module includes the discovery of – and then active monitoring of – any selected SNMP devices; tracking statistics and a history for any data set on a given device over time, such as data traffic on each interface of a network switch. The module also includes a dedicated alerting component, supporting dozens of customizable alerts which can be created and triggered if any tracked data meets specific criteria. Alerts can be sent automatically to designated console users or pre-defined email accounts. Custom query-based reports and views can also be created to reflect all gathered data.
Software Application Metering
The Application Metering module reports on all applications used on each PC or server, detailing the time the application was started and finished, as well as the actual time it was active.
Monitoring application use ensures software licences are assigned to the right staff / students and aren’t renewed without evidence of application activity, thus enabling cost savings.
Application usage can also be restricted for students, either fully or just by time of day. Lists of approved and restricted applications, together with times when restrictions apply, can be created and enforced centrally.
Application metering enables the school to monitor and report current licence usage levels for all installed applications and ensure that application usage complies with school policy. Reports can be presented by PC or logged-on user.
Keeping our students safe online is paramount and access to new technology in education is constant. From online learning and digital resources to social media and beyond, the opportunities are countless. To ensure the successful use of online learning and to support a safe environment, it’s vital that schools are fully prepared with not just an internet safety policy in place, but also the right tools to enforce it.
The Internet Metering module provides a detailed summary of all internet activity on each PC by a student, including start and finish times for each URL visited and the active time spent on a page. Results can be reviewed by device or user. Naturally, the key to supporting an effective e-safety policy is providing effective controls. With CrossTec EMS, internet usage can be fully managed; lists of approved and restricted URLs and/or sub-URLs can be applied centrally. Once applied, CrossTec EMS can allow unrestricted access to all websites, restricted access to certain websites that have been marked as approved by the school or by blocking access to specific sites marked as inappropriate.
Access can also be controlled by time of day, perhaps only allowing access to approved gaming sites for school clubs outside of hours.
EMS features an extremely powerful Alerting module allowing the system to automatically notify operators when any number of changes occurs across the school network. Building on the EMS philosophy, the system is designed to be simple to initiate and there is no limit to the number of custom alerts that can be added.
There are two types of alert: system and PC alerting. System alerts identify any changes within the data gathered by EMS across the overall enterprise, including alerts for things like new PCs added, changes in hardware, a new application installed/removed and so on. PC alerts identify real-time changes or conditions that occur on a specific PC, such as: CPU utilization exceeding XX% for XX minutes; free disk space falling below XX%; a key service stops (eg Antivirus); print spooler alerts; security alerts (eg failed login attempts on a teacher’s PC); and much more.
Alert notifications can be directed to specified email recipients and/or active console users (on a per alert basis, so the nature of the alert may dictate which operators are notified). In addition, outstanding alerts are identified against matching PCs on the main hierarchy tree view. Once alerts have been identified, notes can be added by an operator. A full history of all alerts is accessible from the History feature.
EMS provides a multi-delivery option for Software Distribution.
A software distribution package is created by either applying parameters to a collection of files or folders or by using the EMS application packager – recording the user prompts, keystrokes and mouse clicks that are used during a test installation, and then automating these on a live deployment to bypass the need for operator intervention.
Once created, the application package can be automatically “pushed” to the target PCs in the school for deployment or, alternatively, it can be “published”. Once published, a user can check to see which applications are available for their PC, based on their faculty, and “pull” these down on demand.
EMS includes a Scheduling feature, allowing packages to be deployed on a specific date and time – usually out of core school hours when network traffic is at its lowest.
With remote deployments, such as multi-site schools, the need to minimize network traffic congestion becomes a priority. In this case, EMS allows a client PC, ideally local to the target machines, to be nominated as a distribution point. When the software is deployed, rather than being sent to each remote PC directly, it is just sent to the designated PC which then acts as a relay and redistributes it to its local PCs.
Energy Monitoring and Power Management
The Energy Monitoring module provides a simple and concise high-level summary of potential energy wastage across the school by office and classroom computer systems that are left powered on out of school hours.
EMS checks to verify the powered-on state of all computers and its local monitoring component keeps an accurate record of each time a computer is powered on, off or hibernates. Once it knows the times of day each computer was operational, an average (and customizable) “power consumption per device” calculation is used, facilitating a baseline energy usage calculation for all computers.
With this information to hand, computers in selected classrooms can be set to automatically power off at a specified time at the end of each day and then power back on the next morning.
End Point Security
EMS provides a simple and effective solution for managing the use of USB memory sticks to help maintain the security of the school network. The use of memory sticks can be controlled across the entire school or just for specific departments, staff or students. Usage can be set to allow full access, block all access, allow read-only access or prevent applications being run from an unknown memory stick. Alternatively, individual memory sticks can be “authorized” in EMS and the use of sticks in the school can then also be limited to only those authorized.
A program administrator can connect a memory stick to their local PC and then authorize its use within the EMS console for either a given department or a specific teacher. Teachers or students who connect an unauthorized memory stick to their PC can also request remote authorization where appropriate. Not only does EMS identify both removable (memory stick) and portable (mobile phone, tablet, camera) storage devices, it also provides similar usage controls over CD / DVD devices (including USB and virtual).
CrossTec EMS is designed to ensure you have maximum visibility of your school’s assets, from the classroom to STEM labs, to the library. System reports highlight PC and application usage to ensure under-utilized PCs can be identified and then re-deployed. In addition, “dynamic groups” enable technicians to designate and track technology due for replacement or upgrade. A great feature to help support both procurement and budget planning.
User reporting ensures a school can instantly see who’s doing what and where. In addition, it reveals if software licences deployed are actually being used and, as a result, whether an annual renewal for the licence is justified. EMS will also highlight when PCs are left on out of hours and energy is wasted.
CrossTec EMS provides a range of features to locate and manage users within a networked environment. In addition to key user data (name, telephone etc) EMS provides the school with the ability to customize the data to be gathered and collated from each device owner, including tracking of user acceptance forms. EMS also keeps a history of changes to the data entered in User Data. Changes to custom user details are recorded, including the following fields: Staff Number, Location, Asset Tag and Owner.
Other supporting tools include real-time chat and messaging, a real-time system status view for all devices, as well as a range of system admin features.
Enforce Acceptable Use Policies
Acceptable Use Policies form an integral part of the key information security policies used by most schools. It is common practice for new staff and students to sign an AUP before using school resources for the first time, or to confirm they have read any changes to such a policy whenever it is updated.
CrossTec EMS provides a flexible module to support the delivery and tracking of AUPs across a school. Policies can be applied either to specific devices (eg PCs in the library) for display each time any user logs on, or to users for one-time display and acknowledgement. The Acceptable Use Policy feature can support multiple policies (e.g. separate staff / student templates), which can then be formatted for clear presentation. Full tracking and exception reporting is also provided.
CrossTec EMS includes a high-level Print Monitoring feature. Individual printers across the school are automatically identified and, from the central console view, costs for printing (black and white, color and so on) can be assigned either globally or against each different printer. Where required, printers can also be excluded from the view. A full overview of printing activities and indicative costs across the enterprise is provided by CrossTec EMS.
CrossTec EMS provides both on-screen and print-optimised reporting. The on-screen reports / views are provided with supporting bar and pie charts and “live” drill down capabilities on all key summary data. As well as reporting on individual devices, users and departments, EMS also features dynamic groups. These are user-defined and added to the main hierarchy tree. A dynamic group could, for example, be to identify which classroom PCs are upgradeable and such a group would be created automatically from those that match the required criteria – such as “all PCs with more than ‘XX’ Gb Ram, ‘XX’ Gb free disk space and XX processor type” and so on.
Print optimized reports are designed for management reporting and can be scheduled for creation and output to a specified file location automatically. All reports include the option to print or export to PDF, DOC and XLS.
EMS also supports custom views for all data; the Query Tool provides users with an easy interface for defining custom views. The query tool uses a simple drag and drop field picker, supported with conditions and sum-based features.
Provided as a supporting tool for CrossTec EMS, the Inventory app can be downloaded free from the Google Play and Apple app stores. The EMS mobile app allows a school technician, when away from their desk, to search for and view a detailed Hardware and Software Inventory for any PC on campus. The mobile app also includes a QR code scanner to help instantly identify any PC, either from an on-screen QR code displayed by EMS, or from a label fixed to the device. EMS also provides a QR code label creation facility including displaying custom details. A history of all hardware changes as well as any software installs or removals are also shown on the app.
In addition to the Inventory and History views, the CrossTec EMS mobile app also highlights any new PC alerts that have triggered across the school network.