Typically, deploying new Windows devices has been entirely in the hands of IT. Custom images have to be built, maintained and applied to get everything ready for new users…despite having an OS pre-installed. This can be followed by hours of the manual setup of applications, policies, and drivers for each new or repurposed device. All this manual set up takes away time and resources that could be better spent on other valuable projects. Sound familiar? Thankfully, Microsoft has developed Windows Autopilot – a new cloud-based technology that is quietly transforming this typical tedious provisioning process into a more automated and user-friendly process.
Windows Autopilot is a collection of technologies that are used to set up and pre-configure new devices within an organization. Additionally, you can reset, repurpose and recover devices easily- because there will be no infrastructure to manage. Autopilot is designed to simplify the lifecycle of Windows products through initial deployment to end of life. When deploying new devices, Autopilot saves organizations the effort of having to maintain custom images and drivers for every model or device being used. Now, all those new users will have to do with their new device is simply log in and verify their credentials and the rest is done by Autopilot.
This is a new approach to how your IT staff will spend their time. What traditionally took up a lot of time to build and customize images to be deployed to new devices, is now much easier and more efficient with Autopilot.
Organizations are able to seamlessly deploy laptops without IT even touching them. With Autopilot, organizations can have domain joined computers remotely – which means they can be deployed and set-up over VPN. This has huge implications in an increasingly remote-working world, as end users are not bound to be on-premises to start working. Businesses cannot afford delays between deliveries, deployment time, and needing to be in person – and Autopilot is the answer.
Here are the top three benefits of Autopilot for modern device deployment –
Before deploying a device using Windows Autopilot, the device must be registered with the Windows Autopilot deployment service. Ideally, this is performed by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), reseller, or distributor from which the devices were purchased. When you purchase devices directly from an OEM, that OEM can automatically register the devices with the Windows Autopilot deployment service.
There are now six OEMs that support this:
When a device is purchased from a vendor (Dell for example), the vendor can send a list of your devices with hardware information that gets uploaded to Intune. Computers that go through Autopilot will verify that users’ credentials along with their hardware information against Intune and determine if that machine is eligible for Autopilot or not.
Customers may also purchase from resellers, distributors or Microsoft Partners, as long as they are part of the Cloud Solution Partners (CSP) program – like Interlink. For a step-by-step on how to give a CSP or OEM authorization to register Windows Autopilot devices on your behalf, click here.
The next step is for organizations to customize their user set up the experience by creating a deployment profile (get step-by-step instructions here) that is assigned to your organization’s devices. Lastly, the device is shipped to your organization and Autopilot will deliver all the apps and settings they need to hit the ground running.
So far, this software sounds great, but what sets Autopilot above the rest?
With knowing more about Autopilot and its capabilities, the next step is to consider whether Autopilot or System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is the better fit for your organization. Organizations are often confused on whether to use Microsoft Windows Intune or SCCM – this mainly depends on the size of your organization and its specific needs.
When Intune is coupled with Autopilot, it is a credible end-to-end lifecycle management platform. It can save time and money for organizations because it is more of an out of the box solution for Mobile Device Management. However, it still cannot service all the use cases that SCCM can.
SCCM is a more powerful tool because it has far more capabilities. A few examples –
If Autopilot is something you are interested in pursuing and utilizing, we would love to discuss how it would fit your organization's needs. If your organization is looking into Autopilot but still has questions, contact Interlink, and we can start a discussion about your organization’s specific needs to determine the best-fitting solution.
Interested in learning more? View our similar blog: Automated Investigation and Response (AIR) in Office 365.