Setting your network off the ground can be a time-consuming, frustrating part of building a small business. Many Small-to-Medium Businesses (or SMBs) will buy workstations with basic OEM licensed operating systems. In order to make everything work for your business, you’ll end up needing an IT professional to remove bloatware, install the necessary applications, and add the PC onto the domain… not to mention provisioning the device with much-needed security features.
What if there was a way to standardize these steps?
The “Clean” way to mass deploy operating systems in a large corporate environment is to use a suite such as Microsoft System Center and Configuration Manager (SCCM). Unfortunately, this method is expensive and impractical for the average SMB.
How can a growing small business gain the edge without it costing an arm and a leg?
Every system administrator needs to understand how to use Microsoft Powershell. It’s a powerful tool, allowing for a system administrator to streamline certain tasks (including assigning user rights to a machine, or adding a new piece of technology onto your domain).
You could also write more robust scripts that remove specific bloatware titles from the specific model of computers that you are buying for the office. Anything that you can do in Windows with keystrokes and the click of a mouse can likely be achieved using a PowerShell script.
Windows Group Policies can help standardize system deployments because as soon as a Group Policy Object (GPO) is placed on the PC’s organizational unit, the computer must behave with the group policies that your IT group has assigned.
Common examples would include governing Windows Firewall, use of browsers like Internet Explorer, and actions an end user can perform on the desktop. Group Policy in Windows Server 2012 R2 will give your IT team the ability to configure OneDrive for your entire organization.
If your business currently uses Office 365, the OneDrive enhancement might prove to be a game changer for your business. If your enterprise is not allowed to use cloud storage, group policy allows you to turn these features off, ensuring that your enterprise’s data never gets uploaded into the cloud.
Every aspect of the Windows desktop computing environment can be locked down using group policy. You could even use group policy as a deployment method, by assigning group policy objects to a new organizational unit called “Deployments.” Once this is created, you can edit the GPO to automatically install software upon a reboot.
Simply do a “gpupdate /force” from the command line and reboot the PC if necessary and when the PC comes back on, the new software will be installed. You can then move the PC to a production based organizational unit after the software deployments have completed.
Many 3rd party tools for systems deployments operate on the freemium model. This gives users basic features at no charge, while requiring them to pay for more advanced features.
One popular software title fits this bill is called PDQ Deploy, which is produced by AdminArsenal. Organizations can deploy software using PDQ Deploy’s free features, but the paid features unlock several unique features which help your organization stay up to date on all of the critical patches for the apps present within your enterprise.
Most organizations can get by with the free version, especially an SMB with a limited number of machines and employees. If you have a PowerShell wizard on your team, you can configure PDQ Deploy to run a series of scripts on a remote machine that will prep the machine for deployment.
Using 3rd party tools, your organization can gain an edge in the time it takes to roll out new hires into the production floor. This saves effort and energy on the part of the IT staff while simultaneously providing a direct benefit for the business.
When your SMB develops automated methods of rapidly deploying new PCs and Laptops to end users, your business can feel confident about projecting a positive image of the business as a whole by having everything set up correctly for your new hire as soon as they hit the floor.
Furthermore, automated deployments reduce the margin for error while simultaneously providing the benefit of having a chain of custody when it comes to executing tasks. Audit trails can be generated on each of your new hire deployment automations documenting each and every action that the scripts try to execute. If one portion of this process fails to execute, your team can troubleshoot that issue on a case by case basis.
For organizations that embrace automatic PC deployments, the benefits can be realized immediately. Both managers and end users will be impressed with your IT staff’s ability to rapidly deploy new hardware to end users in a unified and predictable manner.
We understand that for many SMBs, it can be difficult to make heads or tails of what programs are truly necessary while your business gets off the ground. At BACS, we work with everything from small startups to large enterprises. We’re prepared to scale with you as you grow, so you’ll be able to trust that you’re working with an IT support provider that truly keeps your success in mind. To learn more about automated system deployments and how they can benefit your SMB or for any other IT questions, just give us a call! You can reach us by phone at (650) 887-4601 or contact us online at any time.