Traditionally, IT departments have had to prepare new devices for delivery to end users by hand, installing applications and configuring devices one at a time. For schools, which must prepare hundreds of devices each school year, this is a tedious, time consuming process, usually involving one or more IT professionals who must work furiously to have devices in the hands of students when school starts in the fall.
That’s in a normal year. In 2020, the global pandemic raised uncertainties about how education would be delivered. With students learning from home, the challenge was to be able to deliver fully provisioned devices in a timely manner directly to each student, and to do it safely and in accordance with provincial regulations. For educators, the ultimate goal for student devices is to empower students to learn from anywhere.
WINDOWS AUTOPILOT AUTOMATES AND STREAMLINES DEVICE PROVISIONING
Anticipating this challenge for its education customers, CDW Canada reached out to its technology partners to find solutions that would ensure safe delivery of student devices at scale. For Windows 10 customers, CDW Canada took into consideration the education market’s preference for reliable low-cost Windows 10 devices and has assembled a solution based on Windows Autopilot for Education – a Windows-native way to quickly and easily deploy devices directly to students.
Using Autopilot, school IT departments can send user information directly to the device distributor, which then ships devices directly to students. After the student’s initial log in, Autopilot automatically configures the device over the Internet with just a few clicks. In the automated setup process, the device is automatically joined to the directory and enrolled in Microsoft Intune for remote device management. Apps and settings are also installed on the device in accordance with a school’s specifications. The process is nearly fool-proof, and allows students to engage in learning immediately after unboxing the device.
WHAT IS MICROSOFT INTUNE?
Intune is Microsoft’s mobile device management (MDM) platform that enables administrators to track devices after deployment. Intune also enables schools to quickly repurpose devices for a new school year or a device refresh. Instead of sending devices to IT to wipe and reimage, it’s done remotely with Intune. Remote reset also comes in handy for IT staff when a device starts acting up.
Intune works with Microsoft Active Directory to secure devices, data and apps, and enables IT administrators to apply customized security settings by role or consistently across all devices. And, by using Intune and Autopilot together, devices are automatically enrolled in Intune before deployment, so when the student gets a device and starts it up, it’s already secure. Using a single dashboard, IT administrators can easily manage users, data and devices remotely.
SET UP DEVICES WITH WINDOWS AUTOPILOT AND INTUNE FOR EDUCATION
By adopting Autopilot for Education, schools can save a tremendous amount of money by avoiding the time it takes to provision devices manually and by freeing up IT staff hours for other work. Schools can also meet the demands of the pandemic with the ability to mass deploy devices quickly and easily.
The price point is perfect for most schools, especially with Autopilot’s time-saving deployment features, Intune security and ruggedized low-cost Windows 10 devices from Lenovo. Compared with similar platforms targeted to the education market, CDW Canada’s solution is very price competitive.
RUGGED, LOW-COST LENOVO DEVICES
Cost is a big factor for schools, so CDW Canada recommends low-cost Windows 10 devices from Lenovo, which are optimized to run Microsoft 365 (MS 365), the collaboration platform of choice for many schools. Lenovo is a very attractive solution for education because of the affordability of the devices and the company’s willingness to listen to customers and upgrade devices based on that feedback.
And the devices are mil-spec ruggedized to be as kid-proof as possible. Lenovo devices undergo rigorous physical testing like drop tests and hammer tests to ensure device longevity, so they can handle the spills and drops that are inevitable when children are handling devices. And, should something happen to a device, Lenovo warranties are customized for schools to ensure coverage throughout the school year.
HOW MICROSOFT PROVIDES SECURITY AND PRIVACY
By combining Intune and Autopilot for Education with Microsoft 365, schools can take advantage of Microsoft’s tools for security and privacy, including advanced threat protection, identity management and multifactor authentication, along with services to detect threats in emails, links and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams. And, Microsoft’s commitment to never selling student data means student privacy is protected.
CDW CANADA: SUPPORTING EDUCATION FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS
For more than 20 years, CDW Canada has been the go-to technology partner for many schools. And for more than seven years, Tyson Lubbers, senior education account manager for CDW Canada, has been working with education customers to build customized solutions that meet the unique needs of each school board rather than propose generic solutions.
“With the combined team effort of CDW’s in-house resources, strong vendor relationships and overall industry knowledge, no matter the customer challenge I am confident that we can find a solution. Thanks to Microsoft’s Autopilot program, we are able to adapt and execute swiftly for our customers, and I am looking forward to continued success in meeting our customers’ unique needs as they arise.”
In a world where IT professionals are expected to do more with less and wear many hats, consolidating IT processes and vendors under one point of contact helps IT managers focus more on results and less on chasing vendors for support.
Customers in the education market also appreciate CDW Canada’s comprehensive website to make and manage orders. Through the website, schools can leverage features like automated alerts for software renewals, and customized access and purchasing levels for IT directors, managers and staff.
In addition, CDW Canada has significant in-house resources to support its customers with deep expertise in solutions from Microsoft. By utilizing our in-house expertise, education customers can get to a solution much faster than by piecing together solutions from multiple vendors on their own.
The pandemic has placed a lot of demands on school boards to provide a safe learning environment and comply with provincial regulations. CDW Canada’s experience in the education market gives school boards the ability to meet at least some of the demands through existing technology solutions, customized to meet the unique needs of school boards.