May 30 2024

Zero-Touch Configuration Is an IT Modernization Game Changer

Agencies want staff-issued devices as close to ready as possible when they ship.

When the U.S. Census Bureau needed new devices for their workers to survey residents across the country, the organization’s IT leaders wanted to ensure the process of getting those tablets was seamless for tens of thousands of employees.

The IT staff didn’t have the resources to install software and set up profiles for each device, nor was it the best use of their time. They needed enumerators to have the devices in their hands so they could hit the streets.

That’s why the bureau turned to CDW: to establish what’s known as a zero-touch configuration, an IT service more agencies should consider at a time when most want to squeeze the most out of each dollar.

For years, agencies have ordered hardware from one vendor, received it, then shipped it off to another vendor who would configure it and then ship it back to agency headquarters. That’s a lot of extra cost and work that IT departments don’t always want to do or have the physical space to handle.

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Zero-Touch Gets Devices as Close to Ready as Possible

Zero-touch configuration can help IT officials run their agencies more efficiently and allow another vendor such as CDW to act as an extension of their team. The goal is to create that zero-touch for agencies so when an end user first receives a device, it’s as close to ready as possible.

That could mean the device is set up with an internet connection with minimal prompts, or it could mean quickly downloading the right software and updates necessary for a particular profile. As soon as a user logs in for the first time, they could be ready to go — sometimes, within minutes.

Perhaps most important, an IT team can spend its time strategizing about the next big initiative and not bogged down with the day-to-day task of installing software or setting permissions.

By turning the configuration process over to CDW, which has a stringent quality control process, an agency also ensures standardized configurations for its devices. This is what we’ve done recently with the Department of Agriculture: Team members have the same version of software, making it easier to share files and resources and solve help desk problems faster.



Partnerships Are Key When Modernizing IT

When I talk to customers who have worked with us on zero-touch configurations, they regularly say there’s no way they could have tackled this kind of project without a partner. They couldn’t handle the size or the scale. They also marvel at the speed at which the project was finished.

Federal budgets are limited. IT resources can stretch only so far, but agencies may want to use their team for those heavy-lift, strategic projects that change how they interact with citizens.

IT leaders in the early stages of modernization — whether they are determining what hardware they have in house, what needs to be refreshed or what their desired end state looks like — should consider an external partner. Their agencies may need help with staging, provisioning devices, securing the supply chain, configuration, deployment and subsequent management.

Zero-touch configuration services could be the answer.

Jonathan D. Reinfurt

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