Organizations the world over are undergoing a major operational transformation, one where distributed teams are replacing physical, centralized offices. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of employees to work from home for the foreseeable future, with many business leaders considering making remote work a permanent option for their workforce.
Even before the health crisis hampered in-office activities, companies were already ramping up their teleworking plans. One study from Global Workplace Analytics found that regular work-from-home has grown 173% since 2005. But transitioning to a partial or fully remote computing environment requires a lot of careful planning, change management and IT expertise.
Enterprise-grade technology is designed to offer consistent, uninterrupted performance for users across all business units. In the past, the reliability of in-office systems was helped by on-site IT staff who could quickly diagnose and resolve computer problems, roll out batch updates and configure workstations directly. However, with a large portion of workers moving to a remote capacity, organizations are having to integrate new tools and processes for managing off-site computers.
Currently, around 800 million devices run Windows 10, noted ZDNet contributor Mary Jo Foley, making it the most common operating system used by consumers and enterprises alike. To ensure daily operations continue to run smoothly, IT administrators must find effective ways to remotely configure Windows computers and make proactive changes that minimize disruption, unplanned downtime and the need for end-user intervention.
Here are 3 tools that can help organizations streamline their remote configuration tasks:
- Windows Remote Desktop
As part of Microsoft’s suite of business applications, the company offers remote desktop and virtualization tools that help IT administrators control resources hosted on off-site computers. This allows authorized users to access employees’ computers from any location with an internet connection and interact with the desktop as if it were local.
Using Windows Remote Desktop, IT staff can troubleshoot computer problems, deploy applications and software patches to specific devices, and maintain a higher level of security compliance. In many cases, this level of granular control is made possible by cloud-based storage and applications, which prevent users from having to store data and software on their hard drives. Instead, IT administrators can set up secure, virtual desktop environments that have all the business apps and access permissions employees need. When it comes to choosing a remote desktop management solution, Microsoft recommends using its universal Remote Desktop client instead of the more common Remote Desktop Connection Manager (RDCMan).
- Application management platforms
Even with Windows Remote Desktop, IT administrators can waste a lot of time diagnosing and resolving computer problems without adding a layer of automation. As Deloitte explained, automating application management can help stimulate service improvement, reduce operating costs, promote innovation and manage risk across an entire organization. Automation is particularly useful for detecting failed application and software updates, which can lead to major disruptions for end users and introduce zero-day vulnerabilities into a company’s operating environment.
Another benefit of application management platforms is that they allow IT administrators to rapidly test updates on a group of computers before rolling them out to all users. This is particularly important in hybrid cloud environments where legacy systems and cloud-based services are closely intertwined. Once IT administrators create a single golden image for remote Windows computers, they can quickly configure new devices to meet these requirements. Business leaders will want to prioritize application management solutions that allow for granular control over update behavior at a global or per-application basis.
- Reboot-to-restore technology
Reboot-to-restore technology helps IT administrators maintain optimal system configurations in large, multi-user environments. Whether employees are using loans laptops or home computers, unintended configuration changes can create major roadblocks for device-level management. For example, updating system and network settings can prevent users from connecting through secure VPNs, locking them out of key data stores and applications. With reboot-to-restore, end users can correct unwanted changes by simply restarting their computers, which can help cut down on low-priority IT support tickets.
Deploying a reboot-to-restore platform enables IT leaders to define a desired state for Windows machines from the moment a device is switched on. By creating a baseline for employee workstations, organizations can ensure all loaned devices have the latest software and OS updates installed before they’re sent out to remote workers. However, since operating requirements are constantly changing, companies also need to select a platform that offers remote access and control functionality.
Streamline remote device management with Faronics
Managing a growing fleet of remote endpoints can be challenging, which is why Faronics is continuously developing new IT management tools designed for today’s fast-paced business environments. Using our Deploy application, organizations can automate updates for remote Windows devices, send patches to defined user groups or individual computers, and monitor usage of all IT assets from one centralized console. And thanks to Deploy’s cloud-based architecture, companies with distributed IT support teams can collaborate more effectively and ensure company-owned devices are properly configured before they’re sent off to remote employees.
Companies looking to integrate advanced automation and self-service options may also benefit from Faronics’ Deep Freeze application, a leading reboot-to-restore platform. Using Deep Freeze Cloud, IT administrators can make employee workstations indestructible by freezing settings in a desired state. This platform combines computer management, data protection, asset administration and power management into a single solution that can be easily deployed to both company-owned and personal devices.