SmartDeploy: Rethinking software deployment to remote workers in times of a pandemic

The next few months give you the unique chance to rework legacy processes and reimagine desktop management for remote works amid a pandemic. SmartDeploy can help you do that.

The last several months have been the most trying (and tiring) of my career as a sysadmin. While change should not come as a surprise for any of us in this field, I don't think anyone expected so much change so quickly. Though not an exhaustive list, we've enabled entire departments to work remotely and have addressed inventory issues, new products, and product outages. This entire process has exposed holes in how we work and how we recover.

The next few months may be harder. Temporary setups need to be streamlined and standardized. With budget cuts, working efficiently has never been more important. SmartDeploy, an easy-to-use systems management platform, can help you do that. This article will look at problems you'll likely face over the next few months and what you can do to make things a bit easier. Right now, you have a unique opportunity to completely rework time-consuming processes.

Remote imaging ^

Whether you went fully remote or worked in a hybrid office, you probably saw some pain with transitions. Maybe you had remote machines that could not be managed, or you didn't have enough devices for your staff. Either way, expect more transitions in the future and implement fixes now.

The best way to do this is to pretend the office is no longer there. Plan not just for a shutdown but that your building is gone for good. Start working through common scenarios and find out where processes break without a physical building. IT processes are often built a bit at a time, and some institutional baggage can build up. Planning like this allows you to rethink an entire process without that baggage.

For example, how will you handle a batch of new computers? Many organizations order batches of machines, image them, distribute them, and then customize them. Without a physical building, this becomes very difficult. A solution is to replace onsite imaging with auto enrollments and remote imaging.

Along with remote imaging, SmartDeploy also supports wireless imaging with SmartPE

Along with remote imaging, SmartDeploy also supports wireless imaging with SmartPE

If you have dispersed remote staff, you might drop-ship devices directly to employees as well. You might even remove IT from the purchasing part of this process and allow employees to purchase any business-grade mobile device. When you are using remote imaging and pre-built driver platform packs, non-standard hardware is no longer a bottleneck for machine deployments. A change like this means you are no longer bound to the supply chain of a single manufacturer. Rethinking this one process can save hours of work per computer, potentially taking the process down to something as simple as a standard out-of-box experience.

When fixing existing processes, keep in mind that this same process applies to future services impacted due to disruptions. Your plans for integration should not be the path of least resistance. During the initial work-from-home transitions, I saw IT departments giving staff administrative rights so that a new application or update could be installed from home.

There are many better solutions to this problem, such as remote app deployments with content for an application or an update stored in cloud storage, even in common providers such as Google Drive or OneDrive. Because applications can be wrapped up for quick deployments, there really isn't a reason not to deploy everything.

SmartDeploy’s application packaging feature was released in June 2020

SmartDeploy’s application packaging feature was released in June 2020

By not fixing the problem correctly, these organizations will see the same types of problems in the future (plus a lot of new ones created by poorly planned policy).

Simplifying app deployment ^

Predicting the future is hard. This is why people always plan for the last crisis. That is understandable, as we want specifics and the last crisis provides them. I would wager that most organizations would be better served by looking for issues in existing plans and policies instead of laying more on top of whatever exists.

The world of IT is not so much in a "new normal;" it's more of a "normal for now." But this provides a unique chance to make some things better. Though our examples of utilizing remote imaging or cloud app deployments might not apply to you, they may inspire other radical changes in your environment.

SmartDeploy App deployments using common cloud storage providers

SmartDeploy App deployments using common cloud storage providers

You may decide to ditch an overly complicated management platform for something simpler. Over the following months, you will have the opportunity to refine and retool changes made this year. You will also get to start planning for a future crisis, whatever that may be, and your role in solving in it.

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