Agile deployment is more efficient and more convenient. Here’s what you need to know before it rolls out this summer.
Set up to fail
Replacing your employees’ computers is a smart move, but it comes with challenges. There’s the cost of the initial outlay, having to dispose of the old computers, training staff up on how to use the new machines and a period of adjustment while they get used to them.
But there can be an even bigger problem, one that your employees will hopefully never experience: getting the computers set up in the first place.
At the moment, this is an arduous process. Each machine has to be made to spec in the factory, being pre-loaded with the requisite software, apps and settings that the customer has decided its user will access. The computers then have to be shipped to the exact user they’ve been specced for, adding another layer of complication to the process.
And if anything’s been loaded incorrectly? Back to the factory it goes. The employee has to cope without their machine until it’s fixed, damaging their productivity.
Thankfully there is another way: agile deployment.
A new start
“Agile deployment will be very important for businesses,” says Sylvain Ansart, Technical Architect, EMEA Global Acquisition at Lenovo. “It means companies have to use a (CYOD) policy. Agile deployment just cannot work with bring your own device (BYOD).”
BYOD can present security challenges for many enterprises. Under the policy, employees bring in their own device to use for work. But there’s no way for their employer to ensure the device is secure and protected from malware. CYOD, however, allows the employer to set a list of pre-approved devices that employees then choose from. It still gives the workers some say over which device they use, but without potentially compromising the firm’s security. It’s the best of both worlds.
Once the worker has chosen a device, it’s delivered to their desk. The employer can still determine which apps, software and settings each worker has on their machine, but it’s the method of delivery that’s different.
Instead of being pre-loaded at the factory, they’re installed over the internet once the worker plugs in the machine. “The machine recognises the active directory user ID, knows which employee will be using it and loads the desired programmes and apps,” Ansart says. “It’s foolproof because everything is set in advance.”
Not only does this mean that almost any computer can go to any employee – as opposed to scrambling around trying to locate the right PC for each worker. It’s also much simpler if something goes wrong. Instead of returning the faulty machine to the factory, you can simply download a patch to fix the relevant download.
“The idea is that companies take the same approach as they do with smartphones,” says Ansart. “When they get a work phone, they don’t wipe the operating system and install their own. Rather, they install their own apps and software on the existing operating system.”
This has an added benefit: you as the enterprise aren’t responsible for the operating system if something goes wrong. If there’s a problem, you simply contact the maker of the operating system or the hardware provider directly to fix it.
A change of mindset
Agile deployment is set to arrive in the summer. As you can imagine, it will be disruptive. “It will mean a big change in the way customers deal with IT,” Ansart says. “They will need an active directory based in the cloud rather than on the server on their premises. This means a lot of changes in terms of functionality.”
Unfortunately, this makes some companies nervous. “A lot of customers I’ve talked to aren’t yet ready to take that step,” Ansart says. “They’re probably waiting for other companies to go first and see how it goes!”
There’s another consideration too. Microsoft releases a new version of Windows 10 every six months. “That means even if you hang on as long as you can, you’ll still have to reinstall Windows 10 every 18 months (that’s two versions plus a bit),” Ansart explains. “A lot of companies are working out how to deal with that.”
All major changes have their teething troubles. But despite the upheaval, firms can see the potential of agile deployment. “When I present it to customers, they know it’s the future, they’re just a bit hesitant to embrace it,” Ansart says. “But that mindset will soon change.”