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Moving your CRM system to the cloud has numerous benefits: a centralized customer database, instant access to sales opportunities, automated task management processes–the list goes on and on. So while you’re enjoying a more secure, flexible, and accessible CRM system, why not bring those benefits to your endpoint management process?
Taking your endpoint management strategy to the cloud starts with your golden image. Once you’ve moved this to the cloud, managing remote devices becomes much simpler. That’s what we’ll talk about in this article: taking your golden image to the cloud using Microsoft Autopilot and Endpoint Manager. You’ll also see how we at JourneyTEAM were able to help HealthEquity, a company empowering individuals to make better healthcare decisions, created a more efficient endpoint management process. Finally, our Cloud Solutions Specialists will give you a first-hand look at what’s possible using these solutions.
First, Let’s Review Some Terms
Also known as a master image or a clone image, a golden image is a perfect mold of a software environment that can then be duplicated across other devices. Using the golden image saves your IT team a significant amount of time on manual tasks as well as ensures consistency and simplifies the endpoint management process.
A group of technologies, Autopilot is used to preconfigure new Windows 10 devices and prepare them for productive use. Using Autopilot, an IT department can quickly set up devices with very little infrastructure to manage all while using a simple, easy process.
Endpoint Manager is a collection of cloud-based products, including Device Management Admin Center, Co-Management, and Desktop Analytics, that allow you to control how company devices like laptops, desktops, phones or tablets are used from a single location. From getting new devices set up to installing new updates, you can do it all within Endpoint Manager.
Together, Endpoint Manager and Autopilot make a faster, more simple endpoint management process. Autopilot allows for IT professionals to get devices set up and registered while Endpoint Manager goes to work updating and configuring devices. With a faster, more efficient process, your IT team is able to spend less time on managing remote devices and more time on more pressing issues.
How JourneyTEAM Helped HealthEquity Streamline Their Endpoint Management Process Using Microsoft Products
HealthEquity was founded in 2002 as a way to give Americans more healthcare choices and more control of their financial future. Over the last few years, the company has grown to include 3,000 employees, with more joining the team regularly. The amount of new hires was creating a strain on their IT department as they spent a lot of time getting new devices set up and updated. Even with a golden image, the process was taking too much time.
Devon Ritchie, Senior IT Manager at HealthEquity, described their process like this:
“We used a gold image and applied those through Pixie Server. Then we had the technicians join the computers to the domain, then added the user account, set up the profile, then install any additional software on the laptop. This process would take generally anywhere from two to four hours depending on what was on the profile and the amount of software that had to be installed.”
Even after the device was set up, HealthEquity’s IT department still had a number of steps to complete before it arrived with the end user. First, they had to determine which devices each employee needed and where they wanted their items sent. Next, they had to arrange shipping with an outside carrier. Finally, once the device had arrived, IT had to assist employees with setup.
A lengthy process was just one of the reasons HealthEquity was looking for a more efficient process. They also wanted a solution that would centralize all user devices and accounts, fit the demands of working in the COVID-19 pandemic, and was more scalable, and more affordable.
When HealthEquity turned to JourneyTEAM for help, we immediately recommended Autopilot and Endpoint Manager. Once those solutions were installed, HealthEquity started seeing results almost right away. Rather than IT figuring out shipping information and walking employees through the setup process, they began shipping devices directly from a vendor. When users receive their device, they’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to get them up and running. This new process has saved the IT department a significant amount of time on endpoint management and helped them focus on more important issues.
When we asked if HealthEquity experienced any problems during the installation process, Devon stated that the two biggest ones were training IT personnel and employees on the new process and figuring out how to move existing user settings to a new device. However, using a PowerShell script in Autopilot allowed for user preferences to be migrated over with ease.
If you’re looking to install Autopilot or Endpoint Management in your own environment, Devon offers this advice: “Have a plan on what you want the end state to look like. Work very closely with your security teams to understand your security requirements upfront, what you can expect, and what you need to implement going forward.” Doing so will ensure you have a good balance of usability and security.
As HealthEquity plans for the future, their primary goal is to create a more seamless and accessible endpoint management process for both their IT team and end users. They’re also focused on building more dynamic groups in Autopilot and creating additional distribution packages.
Architecting Autopilot to Fit Your Unique Business Needs
What we saw HealthEquity achieve with Autopilot is just the beginning of what Autopilot is able to do. The flexibility of the solution allows it to work in a number of business settings if it’s architectured correctly. One of the Cloud Solutions Specialist who was involved with the HealthEquity project, Tim Brandt, stresses the importance of this step during the implementation process.
“Architecting the solution is a vital part of implementing Autopilot,” Tim stated. “Don’t skip this step and speed through the process without proper planning in the beginning.” While Autopilot is very flexible, it may not be the ideal choice for some organizations. To ensure it’s right for you, take the time to identify specific business goals and then see if Autopilot can help you meet them.
Tim also points out additional factors to consider during the architecture phase:
- Licensing: Look at your existing licenses and determine if they allow for end users to use Autopilot. If not, figure out which licenses you’ll need to get. If you need help with licensing, contact JourneyTEAM.
- Goals: Like we’ve already discussed, it’s important to have specific goals that you’re working towards. This way, your project moves forward on schedule without going over budget.
- Project Management: Take some time to identify who’s going to oversee the implementation process. You’ll want a specific person in charge of coordinating project efforts, providing updates, managing finances, and resolving issues.
- Obstacles: Are there any potential blockers that could harm your project? If there are, figure out how you’re going to overcome them so your project can move forward.
- Approach: For some organizations, a “big bang approach” is the right way to go while others could benefit from slowly rolling out changes. Figure out which is best for your team.
- Future: During the entire duration of your project, you’ll want to make sure you’re planning for the future and setting yourself up for success.
- Adapt: As your project moves forward, unforeseen circumstances may arise that force you to change focus or direction. It’s important to stay flexible and adapt to them as they happen.
“Architecting a solution is the difference between success or failure,” Tim stated. “Take the time to plan things out.”
Other Ways to Use Microsoft Autopilot and Endpoint Manager
What we saw with HealthEquity illustrate just some of the possibilities of Endpoint Manager and Autopilot. Let’s dive into additional ways you can use your golden image within the cloud and how it can benefit your business.
Faster, More Efficient Device Management
Microsoft customers can enjoy a much faster and more efficient device lifecycle management. You’re able to ship all devices and equipment directly from one of Microsoft’s partners or resellers, each of which are installed with a golden image provided by your IT team. After it arrives at its destination, is turned on, and connected to the internet, Autopilot instantly goes to work. Based on the data in your golden image, a user’s Azure credentials, and identity (which is proved using multi-factor authentication), all software and configurations are applied and updated throughout the device’s life.
When the device is at the end of its life, Autopilot will wipe all company documents and data from the device and then promptly retire it.
Ultimately, your IT team avoids the need to touch each device or piece of equipment being sent to your employees. Autopilot takes care of much of the manual work, freeing up much of your IT team’s time.
Zero Trust Architecture Safeguards Data
All Microsoft solutions feature zero trust architecture to keep all your sensitive information and data protected from potential threats. The zero trust architecture principle is built on the “never trust, always verify” mindset, meaning that all of your users’ identities will be continuously verified and access will only be given based on a certain level of clearance.
Should a hacker access your system, Autopilot signals an alert to your IT team who can take action immediately. This approach ensures there aren’t any organizational silos slowing them down.
One of the most time consuming parts about managing devices is installing updates. Luckily, Endpoint Management simplifies this process by using the golden image to automatically install updates–without your IT team having to do a thing.
Another benefit of Endpoint Manager is that it allows you to more effectively manage environment risks. Let’s say there’s a new Windows 10 update available. Rather than installing it on all devices at once, you decide to preview it on a few devices before rolling it out to the rest of your organization. By taking a phased approach, you can resolve any issues or risks on a few devices and avoid the hassle of fixing every single device.
Finally, update rings provide insightful analytics about your environment. You’re able to see which updates are working, which aren’t, when updates need to be paused, and how certain policies are being deployed in your environment.
This is the latest tool of Endpoint Manager and allows you easily see how specific group policy objects (GPOs) will translate in the cloud. The data you get from the output will also show you which of your settings master data management (MDM) providers will support and which of your settings may be deprecated. Finally, the information you receive can help you analyze your current group policies and determine which, if any, are ready to be moved to the cloud.
Start Your Migration with Support from JourneyTEAM
Taking your golden image to the cloud can happen in a number of ways, as illustrated below. However, knowing which approach is best for your company isn’t as straightforward as it seems.
Even with extensive knowledge about your teams, processes, and software, you may need the advice of a professional. That’s where JourneyTEAM comes in. From helping you figure out licensing needs to helping you create a migration plan, you’ll enjoy a seamless migration process and the help of a professional, experienced team. Contact JourneyTEAM today so you can get one step closer to enjoying increased productivity and a more efficient endpoint management process.
JourneyTEAM is an award-winning consulting firm with proven technology and measurable results. They take Microsoft products; Dynamics 365, SharePoint intranet, Office 365, Azure, CRM, GP, NAV, SL, AX, and modify them to work for you. The team has expert level, Microsoft Gold certified consultants that dive deep into the dynamics of your organization and solve complex issues. They have solutions for sales, marketing, productivity, collaboration, analytics, accounting, security and more. www.journeyteam.com