Back in 2018, senior Microsoft leaders visited Dell’s facility near Nashville to see our Connected Configuration service in action. Dell Technologies and Microsoft had been talking about Autopilot and discussing the benefits of shifting that activity away from customer build rooms and back into our facilities.
Delivering Devices Business-Ready for the End User
Connected Configuration is our service to host a customer’s Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) server in our configuration centres which form part of the logistics chain. There are three key facilities around the globe (Tilburg – Netherlands, Nashville – USA and Penang – Malaysia) which enable us to build devices for our customers en route to the end user. This capability means that the devices can be delivered already joined to the domain and with applications pre-installed ready for the user. This addresses one of the key challenges of the cloud managed model, namely that applications are delivered after the user receives the device.
Windows Autopilot for White Glove Deployment
This collaboration resulted in the joint effort to develop what is now known as White Glove, bringing together the business outcome yielded by Connected Configuration with the process simplification of Autopilot. This was first announced at Ignite 2018 and has been in development ever since. Dell remains part of this development effort, working with the Microsoft engineers to ensure that the code they develop will work for an organisation of our scale. We configure over 11 million systems a year for our customers, so we know a thing or two about industrialising the build process for Windows PCs.
The goal of the White Glove service is to allow a device to be shipped ready for the user to activate via the Autopilot process but with their applications pre-installed during the provisioning process.
7 Steps to Be White Glove Ready
At the time of writing this blog, the Windows Autopilot White Glove provisioning is still being finalised but to bring the benefit of this concept to your business at launch, here are my seven steps:
- Prepare your organisation for Autopilot
- Understand the personas you have within your organisation and determine which user personas are best suited to this service – you might feel that continuing to use ConfigMgr for personas that use static form factors such as desktops, workstations and all-in-ones makes sense with Autopilot being used for personas that use mobile form factors or you may wish to standardise on a single toolset.
- Use the persona data to suggest devices for your user to choose from when their current device reaches end of warranty. Use these to populate an intranet hosted end user device renewal experience thereby empowering your users with the most up to date information on their own personal renewal transaction (ordering, delivering, scheduling, recycling etc). They can also use this portal to record their preferred shipping address. Dell can ship either to their home or place of work and Autopilot enrolment enables either Azure Active Directory or hybrid joined scenarios.
- Understand which applications are used by whom so that you can build this into your UEM toolset – Pre-provisioned applications will be targeted to the new device once you assign it to the user.
- Prepare your applications for delivery via your chosen toolset. These will need to be compatible with Windows 10 version 1903 or later as this is the first version that contains the code that enables the Windows Autopilot white glove capability.
- Consider the need for Tech Bar type assistance booths. Most of the work will be done before the devices arrive but you are using a new process and some additional tech-savvy friendly faces to help users with the new approach might be valuable in dramatically improving adoption and change management success rates.
- To make data migration between devices simpler, ensure users are storing their data in an Enterprise File Sync and Share solution such as OneDrive for Business. Use Group Policies to enforce and move content from known folders. Using OneDrive Files on Demand will ensure that cloud hosted data is available immediately and that only those files the user downloads for offline use are cached on the disk.
Those are my seven steps to make your organisation ready for Windows Autopilot White Glove when commercial service offers are made available. If you need help or clarification of any one of the steps, please feel free to reach out to your Dell Technologies Support and Deployment Services account team.