Self-Service Eases PC Deployment
Do any of you remember when self-service was reserved for all-you-can-eat buffets? Some of you aren’t old enough to remember when there was no such thing as a self-service gas station. Every gas station used to be entirely full-service, which meant a nice person would come to your car and ask you which grade of gas you wanted and you wouldn’t have to lift a finger. While the pump was going, they would clean your windows and you drove away with a full tank and truly perfect windows.
In the 1980s, self-service really took hold when people started paying for everything under the sun with credit cards and when credit card processing got so good that you could build it right into the pump it became the norm. Since then, self-service seems to be everywhere and rightly so because it allows buyers to make quick decisions at point-of-sale, and reduces time spent on menial tasks freeing up resources for more strategic efforts.
These great self-service characteristics can even be applied by IT organizations today. For example, Dell IT is now leveraging a newly-launched capability called Shared Connected Configuration to bring the efficiency of self-service to enterprise PC deployments. This new service allows Dell PC customers to connect directly to Dell factories to manage their own custom Windows image—including applications and configuration—and ultimately have their PCs shipped to end users ready for first time login.
Dell IT technicians, who service some 140,000 employees around the world, are putting Connected Configuration to the test and driving efficiencies in our own PC deployment practice.
Taking PC deployment to the next level
In the world of hardware infrastructure, self-service has always meant online support portals where you can search the knowledge base, submit a ticket or post to a community forum. Connected Configuration, part of Dell’s ProDeploy for PCs, goes beyond the simple online portal by allowing customers to upload PC images, pick their configuration options and keep those selections up-to-date using existing tools.
With Connected Configuration customers connect their Microsoft System Center Configuration Management (SCCM) environment to Dell’s supply chain. That means customers can use the SCCM toolset for image creation to customize and maintain their organization’s Windows image and burn that image on new device orders as part of the factory process. When they order PCs, they can ensure the latest image is installed on the systems in the Dell factory and that they are ready for first time login.
In the past, customers worked with their services program manager to update their PC configurations, shipping the image to Dell’s Customer Factory Integration (CFI) team via a thumb drive or a hard drive. Dell Services would then make sure all of the systems ordered had the specified images.
Besides being able to maintain their PC images themselves, the new self-service option offers another big advantage for users. Before Connected Configuration, an IT technician at the organization receiving the PC would have to perform the second-touch action of adding the new system to that organization’s Active Directory domain before delivering the PC to the user for first login. With Connected Configuration, that step is performed at the factory before the system is shipped.
Using our own technology
Based on our current pilot, Dell IT is very excited about the value that Connected Configuration can deliver to our organization by eliminating the need for our IT techs to prepare new PCs for login across the company. This new self-service capability will also expedite employee PC orders because it will allow Dell to ship the systems directly to the end users.
In fact, pilot results indicate that the self-service process could cut shipping time for a newly ordered PC in half, from 6 to 10 days to 3 to 5 days and totally eliminate the need for IT to do 10 to 15 minutes of onsite preparation per system.
Considering that Dell IT is on track to refresh some 29,000 systems a year for both legacy companies in the U.S. and EMEA, the potential value of this self-service innovation is significant.
Some lessons learned
Enterprise integration with the Dell factory requires anticipating and addressing networking, firewall and other technical challenges, but the rewards can be considerable. Be proactive and consider the following lessons we learned.
- There’s a huge opportunity to enhance the way PCs are distributed. If you are doing it the old way, there’s definitely a better way to do it.
- Engage your security teams early and have them be a part of the process in this security-centric integration. You’ve got to have those guys on board and they’ve got to be part of the conversation.
- This capability has the potential to free up substantial IT resources that can be used to address other value-added IT challenges.
We think this solution is great now and its capabilities are only going to get better for both end users and for IT.