The turn of the year can be a chance for an IT manager to reflect on what’s been going well, while also thinking about those process improvements you know you need, but never quite find the time to get round to.
It’s often a time when new hardware is being seriously considered. What have you got, how long have you had it for, can you get away with a refresh – these are the types of questions that may dictate your strategy.
Often, the best answers may lie in effective imaging. Many IT departments would find life a lot easier with a new or improved approach to imaging. If you’ve been given budget for buying new machines, that investment can be optimised if you think carefully in advance about which image to push out to whom.
If brand new workstations prove prohibitive from a cost point of view, there are many worthwhile options on the second-hand market. Yet even if you’re pulling together a mixed bag of new machines from a variety of sources, setting up your hardware can take a very short rather than a long amount of time.
If you feel your IT estate needs a mere refresh rather than a complete overhaul, imaging is a straightforward way of achieving this objective. You can achieve consistency across your workforce, while tightening up your security as you deliver up-to-date operating systems to protect against the latest scams.
How best to carry out imaging?
If you’ve decided that imaging would be a good idea, you have a few options on how to go about it.
Cloud-based imaging is especially useful for IT managers who wish to image workstations outside of their corporate network. Images can be stored on HTTP/S servers or SFTP servers during the imaging process, so that all the end user needs is an internet connection.
PXE boot imaging may make sense for large-scale deployments, because it only needs a little bit of setup to save a huge amount of time. Once configured, it’s just a case of taking your new machine out of the box and turning it on: it will automatically pick up what you specify as the default image.
Image caching can significantly reduce turnover time when someone leaves the organisation and their computer needs to be prepared for someone else: it allows storing of the image on the local drive so that the computer does not have to connect to an imaging server to download the entire image during the reimaging process.
USB imaging could be the best option if you’ve only got a handful of machines – simply create a bootable USB drive with your customised deployment package, then plug it into the device you need to set up.