Sesame Workshop Logo
Industry: Technology & Media
Location: United States

Sesame Workshop


  • Reduced inventory administration time by 70%
  • Moved to an open web infrastructure that costs 85% less than a proprietary solution
  • Consolidated web servers by 80% with Xen virtualization
  • Reduced hardware costs by 30%

Sesame Workshop is an educational television studio that produces Sesame Street. With a small IT staff and limited budget, Sesame Workshop needed innovative ways to manage its growing IT environment. The company implemented Novell ZENworks Asset Management to reduce inventory administration time by 70% and leveraged SUSE Linux Enterprise Server to consolidate web servers by 80%.


Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organisation that changed television forever with the legendary Sesame Street. As the single largest informal educator of young children, local Sesame Street programmes are produced in countries as diverse as South Africa, Bangladesh and India, and are making a difference in over 120 nations.

The Challenge

As a nonprofit organisation, Sesame Workshop leases most of its desktops, laptops and servers. Manually tracking its hardware and software inventory was time-consuming for a small IT staff. Sesame Workshop wished to streamline inventory and asset management to free up its IT staff and properly manage its leasing contracts.

Sesame Workshop hosts nearly 50 consumer websites, many with large volumes of media content, thousands of concurrent users and more than one million unique visitors per month. Facing increasing hardware and software licensing costs with Sun Solaris and Microsoft Windows, the company evaluated a move to Linux.

Just as Sesame Workshop innovates in media and entertainment, we try to innovate in IT. SUSE gives us the tools to compete with our bigger competitors, but without the huge price tag.

SUSE Solution

Sesame Workshop selected Novell® ZENworks® Asset Management to streamline its inventory processes and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as the open platform for its web architecture.

“Novell ZENworks Asset Management is a good fit for us because it works across our multiple platforms including UNIX, Windows, Linux and Macintosh,” said Noah Broadwater, vice president of Information Services at Sesame Workshop. “We tested several solutions and found that Novell ZENworks Asset Management doesn’t place a big burden on our network like other solutions. We are getting great performance.”

The IT staff used Novell ZENworks to install software based on the user’s identity and role within the organisation. Novell ZENworks Asset Management then tracks the software on each machine and alerts the IT staff if users try to install unauthorised software.

“With ZENworks Asset Management, we know exactly what is installed and where,” said Broadwater. “Having a real-time inventory makes it easy for us to comply with software licensing requirements, as well as our leasing schedules.”

Sesame Workshop is currently relaunching many of its websites and is replacing its Sun Solaris, Microsoft Windows and Debian servers with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. The company has already seen dramatic improvement in its web performance as its home page load time decreased by 130%.

“Instead of paying for proprietary hardware with UNIX, we can now get competitive pricing from all the major x86 hardware vendors,” said Broadwater. “Moving to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server gives us the same reliability and performance as UNIX, as well as the option to run whatever open source tools best fit our business. The cost savings from Linux are incredible.”

With an open platform, Sesame Workshop is taking advantage of a host of open source software. Using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with built-in Xen virtualization, the company can easily configure virtual web servers to run multiple websites and no longer requires several physical servers per website.

“We estimate that we are doing with 12 servers what most companies do with 100,” said Broadwater. “We are huge advocates of open source which defies the industry adage that you can never get cheap, fast and good. As a nonprofit organisation, we have to be innovative with a limited budget.”

Sesame Workshop also uses Novell identity and security management solutions to provide its 10,000 users with personalised access to its intranet. NetIQ® Access Manager™ authenticates employees and partners to its portal, based on user information stored in NetIQ eDirectory™. NetIQ Identity Manager automatically synchronises user information across disparate applications so users have single sign-on access to everything in the portal.

The Results

By implementing Novell ZENworks Asset Management, Sesame Workshop reduced inventory administration time by 70% and can better comply with auditing requests and leasing contracts.

The company moved its web infrastructure to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for a cost 85% less than that of a proprietary UNIX and Windows solution. Consolidating web servers by 80% with Xen virtualization has reduced hardware costs by 30%. By leveraging open source software, the company has dramatically reduced its software costs, contributing to an overall IT budget reduction of 18%.

“Without Novell solutions, we would need to increase our IT budget every year by at least US$1 million,” said Broadwater. “Just as Sesame Workshop innovates in media and entertainment, we try to innovate in IT. SUSE gives us the tools to compete with our bigger competitors, but without the huge price tag.”