5 Things to Keep in Mind When Deploying Multiple Computers in Larger Organisations
To make a good brew, you need all the ingredients and the right equipment – kettle, cup, teaspoon, water, teabag, milk etc. – along with a good, logical process – you can’t very well pour the water if you haven’t boiled it yet.
Similarly, when deploying multiple machines (and for the purposes of this article we’re talking dozens, hundreds or even thousands) there are 4 distinct stages to the overall deployment process, and they need to be done correctly and in the correct order. They are:
- Physical Deployment
This can be subdivided into (1) Plan, (2) Buy, and (3) Prepare for deployment by handling all the red tape (management approval, purchase orders etc.) and the logistics (e.g. where to safely house all the machines once they arrive?)
The Planning phase in itself consists of 4 stages:
- Hardware strategy – Procurement> Deployment> Management> Retirement
- Needs forecast – how many machines will we need?
- Choose the right hardware – run a proof of concept to make sure the machines can perform their intended tasks. This often means acquiring samples, which need to be sensibly distributed to people who are savvy enough to make a thorough assessment and offer honest feedback.
- Design the hardware configuration. Based on your earlier proof of concept, you need to create a standard build that can be rolled out efficiently to each machine.
Buying might involve not only the purchasing of the base computer, but also peripherals like screens, mice and keyboards, and protective cases for laptops and privacy screen filters for laptops and tablets to prevent ‘shoulder surfing’ in public places (which could expose your data).
An easy way of simplifying both your purchasing and your logistics, is by using a procurement framework such as YPO.
Simply put, this is the stage where you deliver system components to the system development team and make the machines available to their end users.
- Hardware arrives (where do you store them?)
- Images/standard builds are created and loaded by the development team (where do you set up the computers to prepare them for use?)
- The machines need to be inventoried and asset tagged before being given to users (think: logistics)
- Just when all the new machines are in the hands of their users, the first issues start to emerge – some machines won’t boot up, some might give a Blue Screen of Death etc.
Finally, everybody has their new machine and all the machines are working, but… How do you roll out updates, patches and fixes? How do you perform ongoing physical maintenance, end-user support & training? When should you consider hardware upgrades (e.g. more RAM) to extend the life cycle of the computer? Most importantly: How do you protect the data?
You need to plan ahead for the day when the hardware becomes obsolete and needs to be recalled.
- Communicate with affected users, let them know in advance that their computers are nearing end of life.
- Analyse the machines before retiring them, and redirect dependent or linked systems (e.g. printers that were hosted by the retiring computer) to the new, replacement machines.
- Move and archive legacy data, then wipe the system. Do you remove & crush the hard drives, or securely erase them? This will depend on the level of security you require and whether the old machines will be re-tasked internally, given to charity or sold as second-hand. Erasing means you’ll most likely have to reinstall the OS before you can sell it. How much technician time do you need to budget for this?
Optimise the Overall Deployment Process
Shipping the computers in costs money, building them costs money, delivering them to their end users costs money, training & supporting the users costs money, recalling the machines costs money, reusing or recycling them costs money and administering the entire process costs money, so plan ahead and optimise the process as much and wherever you can.
Good IT management also means keeping track of each machine from beginning to end. “Where is it right now?” should never be a mystery.
Using Cloud services is another great way of reducing your overall purchasing, management and logistical problems. A Cloud provider such as Venom IT can provide Cloud-hosted desktops, which often means your existing hardware can be used for much longer without any drop in performance, whilst saving you money at the same time.
Venom IT also includes full support on all Cloud-hosted desktops, and offers an add-on support service for your physical computer fleet, with automated backups, health checks, security updates and so on.
Lastly, because zero data is stored on the physical machines (it’s all on the Cloud desktop) – you have less to worry about when reusing/recycling old machines.
For more info on how Cloud services can make your organisation more streamlined, easier to administer and more secure, why not get in touch with Venom IT? 0330 202 0220.