Thought Leadership

What Is Zero Touch Deployment?

February 8, 2022
March 15, 2022
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Zero Touch Deployment

Zero Touch Deployment, hand in hand with Zero Touch Provisioning, streamlines IT setup for employees, allowing companies to ship devices directly to remote workers with the ability to automatically provision programs and applications and configure the entire operating system without any IT interaction.  

As we have learned, working from home for non-physical, “office worker” professions is not only possible but in some cases, preferable. Enterprise corporations, medium and small businesses have begun to settle and even thrive in the work-from-home landscape, some continuing remotely on a full-time basis and others sliding into a more flexible, hybrid environment. 

Before Zero Touch Enrollment 

Before “Zero Touch“ became a buzzword that organizations were truly interested in, IT departments went about provisioning devices either directly from the manufacturer, or with the help of a value added reseller. 

Either way, the devices were normally sent to a central point within an organization, directly into the hands of IT, so they could configure the devices before they were assigned to employees.

Device Imaging

Most computers you buy at the store come with a default image, for instance if Windows 11 is already installed on a newly purchased computer, that operating system is the standard image.

However, further business-specific configurations meant IT personnel had to physically touch the devices in order to add the unique drivers, files, software, databases and applications a company needed. 

This manual intervention amounts to the creation of a company-specific (sometimes even as detailed as role-specific) “image file” that could be duplicated on computers across an organization. 

After the computers were imaged, they could be distributed, or even shipped to remote employees as needed. 

The Zero Touch World of IT Explained

The reason that Zero Touch Deployment and Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) is becoming so popular is that as the number of devices used within organizations increase and workers are spread outside of the office, so does the strain on IT Departments. ZTP can help streamline and in some cases, outsource, the more arduous and repetitive tasks. 

What is Zero Touch Provisioning

Zero Touch Provisioning and Zero Touch Deployment are terms that are often used interchangeably. Regardless of terminology, they are referring to the “hands-off” automatic installation of company-specific computer files, programs and settings.

ZTP processes may vary between organizations, but in general they include these steps: 

  • Purchasing of ZTP-enabled devices
  • Shipment of device(s) to the employee
  • Employee powers on device and connects to the internet
  • Device automatically sends a request through DHCP or TFTP
  • Port configuration and IP addresses are automatically provisioned based on location requirements
  • Image and configuration information is downloaded and run

DHCP - Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. A way to automatically assign IP addresses and parameters to devices connected to a network through a server.

TFTP - Trivial File Transfer Protocol. A way of sending and retrieving files with a remote host in between.

Non ZTP-enabled devices can still be set-up remotely, but they may require extra steps or even one-touch provisioning (OTP). The device can still be set-up automatically, but the user may be required to enter a specific IP address or password. 

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Key Advantages and Capabilities 

Automatically configuring your company’s devices off-site has advantages to the manual,  touch enrollment of just a few years ago. They are: 

Employees can get to work as soon as possible.

Employees no longer need to physically drop off/pick up devices or meet with IT in order to get their computer up and running. They are able to unbox and go.

Device management is streamlined.

Network and security settings are configured quickly and details are collected automatically. New applications can be deployed through the cloud and licenses can be reassigned with ease. Remote lock and wipe can be initiated in an instant. 

The cost savings will add up.

 Automating processes saves time and labor. Employees, including those in IT, are able to focus on high-priority tasks. Human errors are diminished and quality assurance is improved. 

Supervision is enhanced and customized.

Using Zero Touch enrollment (paired with mobile device management) allows for immediate device supervision and enhanced controls. Restrictions and website filtering can be added at any time. Depending on the devices and programs used, factory resets can be set to trigger re-enrollment of MDM protocols. Other features that may be customized include: 

  • Bluetooth
  • Camera
  • Wi-fi
  • Roaming
  • Location based restrictions
  • Application access
  • Animation upon launch

Makes IT resilient and secure.

Zero Touch brings flexibility like never before. Some devices may even allow security updates to be made remotely, at the device level. Large-scale management at the enterprise and data center levels has the opportunity to become more efficient.

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The Nuances of ZTP

In some cases, specific image files can be downloaded on devices even before they leave the manufacturer. This requires coordination and enrollment in specific programs with device manufacturers. 

Due to the number of devices purchased and the variety of manufacturers one company might use, organizations most often opt to use a device management solution and configuration manager along with ZTP.

The Necessity of Mobile Device Management 

Even before remote work became necessary, companies were already engaging MDM or Mobile Device Management to keep track of mobile devices like tablets, phones and laptops within an organization. MDM solutions usually pair specific software with processes and security policies to keep track of a company’s device inventory, configurations and deployment. 

Companies now need to include even more personal computers, monitors and other hardware in the process of device enrollment. Zero touch becomes part of this management process.

Juggling All Your Configured Devices

Organizations that already transitioned to cloud-based computing most likely had an easier time adapting to disk-free installations. However, even those already running in the cloud couldn’t predict the need to completely on-board all hardware remotely.  

If your company does not already have a process for managing devices, ZTP makes it easy. Even if your company does have an MDM solution, the additional requirements of remote work may make an upgrade a good idea. 

Finding a partner that can handle the entire process for a multitude of devices can help optimize remote deployment within your organization. Services can range from purchasing and packaging to inventory, storage, shipping and ensuring zero touch deployment will run smoothly. 

Some partners even offer customizations to new-hire kits along with logistics management. Contact Quadbridge now for more information regarding our advanced zero touch deployment service, QB ZeroTouch.

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