4 tools for a faster, more efficient deployment of Windows 10 devices

 In End-User Devices, Hardware

Tablets and smartphones changed the way businesses and their IT practices work. Much of that influence is pretty obvious, but it’s also appearing in ways that have created as much confusion as they have efficiency.

One of the best examples is imaging for Windows 10. Rather than stick to traditional methods, in which an image is copied and physically uploaded to a device, Windows 10 allows images for every end-user device, whether a phone or a desktop, to be pushed from the cloud.

The change has left a lot of people trying to adjust to the new practice, but a number of solutions have popped up to help. With different ways to roll out Windows 10, image your devices, and link them with an MDM, you can fully take advantage of how far zero-touch has come.

Here’s what you should know about zero-touch imaging, and the options you should consider.

Mobility alters imaging

The idea of zero-touch is simple: It’s deployment without ever having to touch the device itself. It means less on-site management from IT, leaving them open for more pressing matters, and less wait time for employees who want to get to work. By pushing images from the cloud, linked to a set of credentials and a network, rather than a specific device, any machine can simply and easily be imaged with little hassle.

However, when Windows 10 rolled out, many employers didn’t realize that this method of imaging was meant to be used with the new Windows offering. Instead, they attempted to image Windows 10 in the way they were familiar with, causing some frustration along the way. In the meantime, companies such as SHI were beginning to come up with solutions to aid organizations struggling with this new method of deployment. Today, zero-touch methods are on the rise, and by far the easiest way to deploy your modern devices.

The right zero-touch method for you

Although it took the market a while to catch up with the new imaging techniques for Windows 10 devices, many are starting to jump on the trend.

SHI’s own Zero Touch deployment, adapted from our original Zero Touch method for Apple products, was one of the first deployment solutions available. The Surface, with the software baked into the hardware, can be imaged similarly to an iPad, so we were able to easily make the transition from being the Apple Zero Touch deployment experts to an all-around Zero Touch deployment practice.

SHI’s Zero Touch customizes and configures large numbers of devices using the cloud (often Azure Active Directory), and pushes these configured images to the devices remotely. You can image a large number of machines without ever having to touch someone else’s device. It can also help push out updates and restrictions from an MDM, managing devices that aren’t persistently connected to a domain, and help control Microsoft updates.

Beyond SHI’s Zero Touch, there are some additional services that can assist with your imaging and deployment, making the last few steps as simple as possible. By choosing one of these options to work with your imaging strategy, you can simplify the last few steps of deployment, turning it into a quick and easy out-of-the-box experience with little work for your IT staff.

1. Microsoft Autopilot

Microsoft’s option registers the serial number of the device to a particular organization, making the machine aware that it belongs to a certain group when it is powered on, and triggering auto-enrollment. The organization can then offer a number of different customization options, which can be automatically deployed to employees. From a user’s perspective, all they have to do is verify their credentials and connect to the network before automated processes take care of everything else.

To use Autopilot, you must have Azure AD, proper Microsoft licensing, a compatible MDM (such as Intune), and a connection to on-premises servers.

2. VMware Workspace One

VMware’s solution does many of the same functions as Autopilot, but requires VMware identity management and cloud services. This can be a heavy investment, if your organization is not already fully committed to VMware. But if you’re virtualizing a lot of your applications (typically the case with organizations that have older, legacy software), VMware and Workspace One may be a better fit for you than Microsoft Autopilot and other zero-touch options. However, virtualizing apps, in many cases, goes against the idea of mobility—which is where zero-touch deployment methods are the most useful.

3. Dell with Airwatch Agent

Airwatch Agent, part of VMware, can be installed to a device which is subsequently shipped to a user, allowing them to open it out of the box. Using the Airwatch Agent, any Dell device can be accessed as a company device with the proper credentials. IT can use this option to push devices’ images to their Dell devices through the Airwatch Agent and VMware technology.

Modern systems, modern imaging

If you’re using modern hardware and software products in your environment, such as Windows 10, Surface devices, and the cloud, it’s time to consider zero-touch deployment options. While the prospect is still new to many, there are myriad options out there that can fit your particular needs. For more information, contact your SHI account executive.

Kevin English and Sean Cassidy contributed to this post.

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