Since the beginning of this year, organizations have potentially had to deploy a large number of devices in the field to enable employees to work remotely. Service desk technicians have already been spread thin due to the increased workload of supporting such a larger number of remote employees. End point management solutions, with the ability to automatically deploy and keep up to date endpoints with the bulk of the configuration, became essential to help ease the burden on support staff, limiting issues for the end user since the deployment with far less troubleshooting for support during everyday activities.
With ThinMan and its profile management capability, Praim allows organizations to perform Zero Config for all their endpoints spread out in the field. Zero Config allows automating the configuration and software installation so end users have the most seamless experience possible when provided with their thin client or remote device. Why is this even more important now? What exactly is Praim Zero Config? How can it help organizations solve the challenges they are currently facing?
Why are automated solutions even more important nowadays?
The complexity of today’s very fast-moving work environments require that organizations effectively make use of automation. Automation allows IT operations to keep pace with the demands placed upon them by the business and easily react to new requirements and changes in the operation conditions. It also allows scaling solutions effectively and efficiently.
Now, more than ever before, automation is needed to help organizations meet the technical challenges caused by the global pandemic. IT operations have been tasked with providing remote solutions seemingly “overnight” for workers who were shifted from on-premises to working from home. Now they must keep their workstations updated and provide continuous support from remote.
One of the tremendous tasks that IT teams have had to face since the beginning of the year is provisioning the end user with the hardware needed for remote work, with the proper configuration. Faced with this situation, organizations making use of Praim technologies were in a great position to easily provide thin client configurations for remote end users, quickly and easily, and to exploit Praim software solutions to leverage on already in-house or user-owned hardware to immediately transform it in a designated work station, automatically configured.
What is Praim Zero Config?
In the current situation, with service desks having to support remote employees working from home, endpoint management automation provides the answer to many of the challenges and difficulties that come with remote support.
For instance, there is a tremendous amount of initial configuration and software deployment that is generally required when deploying a new end user client out in the field. Praim Zero Config solutions make such a labor-intensive operation quick, automatic and customizable at choice, thanks to the profile management capabilities offered by Praim ThinMan. These allow the deployment of very large numbers of thin clients, wherever they are, in a way that gives organizations the ability to get control and standardize the configuration of all thin clients deployed to end users. The only requirement for the end point is to reach out the ThinMan server.
Typically, in on-premises environments, thin clients are set to use the DHCP option 163 (or resolve the name PRAIMSERVER in the DNS) to automatically get the ThinMan server address. Praim ThinOX, as an example, provide two straightforward configuration wizards shown on start up for the deployments in the field, e.g. from users home, that allow remote workers to quickly get up and running and accessing the corporate environment also from their homes:
- ThinMan Server address wizard
- Wireless configuration wizard
With these two wizards, any end user is able to insert the ThinMan Server address communicated by the help desk and reach out ThinMan from their home network (either via a wired or a wireless connection).
The Praim ThinMan profile management is available when clients get connected to the ThinMan server. Once connected to the server, the configuration is deployed or updated to the end point by the built-in profile management and “Zero Config” capabilities of ThinMan.
With the concept of Zero Config, desired resources and parameters can be defined and automatically made available or configured in the end points via ThinMan Server. Different configurations for different devices can be saved as a template and deployed to thin clients, on which only the appropriate matching configuration is applied. Similarly, different configurations (for example different connections and resources) can be defined for different end users and applied after authentication to the relative end point.
What about network firewall challenges?
What about network firewall challenges for remote workers working from home? Starting from ThinMan Server 8.0 Praim has greatly simplified the network requirements, enhancing as well security. ThinMan Server 8.0 and higher uses a new Web Socket Secure technology that requires only TCP port 443 to be accessible. This is the common SSL port that is generally already open for home users.
This means that remote workers, many of whom may not be technically savvy, are not challenged with configuring network ports to allow connectivity to ThinMan. This also greatly reduces the support burden on the corporate IT helpdesk trying to troubleshoot connectivity issues for remote workers.
Zero Config software installation example
One of the great examples that is part of the Zero Config functionality provided by Praim ThinMan Server is software installation. ThinMan provides several tools, which when combined with the Praim client agents such as Agile4PC, present an extremely powerful and flexible Windows configuration method. Once you have added software packages into the Package Repository in ThinMan, it is now possible to automatically install the packages based on rules and events.
Right clicking the Event Activities task and selecting Add… and Update will open the Package Repository. Select the application that requires installation and the Set the Activity Name and Details window opens.
Add a name and Description if required and then Next.
The Action Firmware Update window opens. This will determine the models that can receive this update, as well as the parameters that were defined when the application was added to the Package Repository. In this example, the Citrix Workspace App is to be installed to a Windows 10 pc which has the Agile4PC program installed. The other devices are Praim Windows Embedded devices and already have this application so remain unchecked. It is also possible to use the Version options to determine if this application is to be installed or not.
The Event window will determine what event will force the installation.
The Conditions window will determine the condition status of the device and if to apply this update. This will automate the application installation for new devices which are detected by ThinMan. This window also applies further conditions. Apply Once and Apply only to new devices check boxes are self-explanatory. Apply only to devices with Device Profile Status Applied ensures that any device profile routines have completed prior to the running of the Event Activities.
Any time restrictions for running the routine can be defined.
ThinMan can determine devices by Group definition. Classifier is an advanced group option which is described in https://wiki.praim.com/display/ThinMan/Classifier
ThinMan groups can be manually created or reflect IP network ranges within the network. This example is to apply to devices that are in the root of the tree, but not to any devices that exist in the Windows Embedded folder.
It is also possible to apply to a specific device or devices.
Finish to create the Event Activity rule.
The rule is created and forms a list with the first created routine at the top. The run order is from the top to bottom, and by right clicking on a job, additional actions as well as accessing the properties can be achieved. To ensure that applications are installed in the correct order, use the Move Up and Move Down to set the order.
Today’s world filled with a highly distributed workforce makes it necessary for organizations to use effective end point management automation to help alleviate the burden on helpdesk technicians, efficiently maintain largely remote infrastructure and save abundantly on operational costs.
Praim’s Zero Config capabilities allow organizations to offset the generally heavy burden of provisioning hardware and software solutions for remote end users. With Zero Config, organizations can literally send a hardware device to the remote end user, connect to ThinMan Server, had the device automatically set-up with the appropriate software and hardware configuration. With Praim-powered Zero Config, this takes the heavy lifting out of the normally labor-intensive process of end user device provisioning.