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Christie & Co improves laptop management and operating system deployment capabilities hero image

Christie & Co improves laptop management and operating system deployment capabilities

Established in the early 20th century, Christie & Co is the leading UK and European specialist advisor for buying and selling hotel, pub, restaurant, healthcare, and other business sectors. 

Technology used :

Microsoft Intune

Christie & Co improves laptop management and operating system deployment capabilities hero image
What were the challenges?
  • Existing operating system deployment solution was functionally-limited with high admin overhead.
  • Laptop builds had to be completed in the UK office and shipped across Europe
  • The Christie IT team had no way to deploy applications or remotely manage devices.
  • Hybrid working and enhanced business requirements meant that a more powerful and flexible desktop management solution was required.
What was the solution?
  • Microsoft Intune was identified as the most appropriate option to provide OS deployment, Windows updates, application deployment, device management and policy deployment
  • Following a design process, we implemented and configured Intune to support all the requirements.
  • The rollout to all Christie devices was managed by the in-house team.
What were the results?
  • Automated operating system deployment is much more flexible and dynamic than MDT.
  • All new laptops are ordered and remotely built in the country of origin, anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Devices are automatically encrypted at build time so organisational data is more secure.
  • Centralised and automated application deployment is now available resulting in significant savings in resource, shipping and import duty costs.
  • Additional functions such as remote wipe and device location are available.
  • The admin and support burden is considerably reduced
  • Christie and Co is very happy with the improvements to its IT service delivery capabilities.

The Background 

Christie & Co has a Microsoft-centric IT provision, with users having Windows devices. For many years, the IT team has used the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) to build Windows devices. MDT is satisfactory, and certainly better than manual building, but relies on constant maintenance to remain up to date and only works in the main Christie office. With the advent of hybrid working, as well as having many office locations across central Europe, a more flexible build solution was required. 

Since MDT was first deployed, Microsoft has developed more functional desktop management solutions and Christie decided that Intune was the preferred option, since this fitted neatly with its cloud strategy. 

Since we have been helping Christie with its Microsoft requirements for more than six years, we were asked to help with the design and configuration of Intune. 

“Having a strong history in device management and a long-term relationship with Christie & Co meant that we were ideally placed to assist with its new desktop management requirement.” 

Colin Gray, Account Manager, Silversands 

Challenges
  • Microsoft Deployment Toolkit inflexible and admin heavy
  • OS deployments only available in head office
  • More functional desktop management required
<p>“Desktop management and deployment has always been hindered by requiring access to on-premises infrastructure. Microsoft Intune and Endpoint Manager has empowered our customers to remove those ties. Infrastructure such as MDT and Configuration Manager, while still valid in certain scenarios, are no longer necessary.”</p>
<p>Mark Ison, Lead Consultant, Silversands</p>

“Desktop management and deployment has always been hindered by requiring access to on-premises infrastructure. Microsoft Intune and Endpoint Manager has empowered our customers to remove those ties. Infrastructure such as MDT and Configuration Manager, while still valid in certain scenarios, are no longer necessary.”

Mark Ison, Lead Consultant, Silversands

The Solution 

Although the primary requirement was to enhance the operating system build process, Intune can provide much more, including app deployment, software updates and policy-based configuration (as a replacement for Active Directory Group Policy). 

To understand which features should be enabled and how they would be configured, we held an interactive workshop with the Christie team.  This helped them to understand the available options and decide how the project should proceed. 

The key elements to implement were agreed to be: 

  • Automated deployment for Windows 10, known as Autopilot 
  • Enablement of BitLocker to encrypt the device’s hard disk 
  • Enablement of Windows Updates, to replace an ageing Windows Server Update Services solution 
  • Packaging of applications including Office, VPN client, Chrome, Adobe Reader and others.

After completing the setup of Intune to deliver these functions, we tested the deployment with a small number of scenarios and provided a handover to the Christie IT team so that they could complete the rollout to the rest of the organisation. 

Silversands assistance in migrating from MDT to Intune and Autopilot was invaluable. From the outset they helped us to understand all the pre-requisites of implementing this solution in a Hybrid environment and what advantages / disadvantages this would have in terms of management and functionality. During the implementation phase everything was explained concisely and tested extensively prior to handover. Once the project went live any questions were dealt with straight away and the handover, training and documentation have been such that our IT department have been able to manage devices from all office locations as per our requirements from day one."

Steve Wicks, Application Support Analyst, Christie & Co 

Solution
  • Microsoft Intune offers all the required functionality
  • Interactive workshop held to design overall solution
  • Automated deployment for Windows 10
  • BitLocker encryption enablement
  • Windows Update enablement
  • Office and other applications packaged
<p>“With laptops previously being built in the UK and shipped all across Europe, the new Intune service has significantly streamlined the IT effort. Additionally, we now have 100% visibility of all managed devices. In a hybrid working environment this is essential.”</p>
What did the client say?

“With laptops previously being built in the UK and shipped all across Europe, the new Intune service has significantly streamlined the IT effort. Additionally, we now have 100% visibility of all managed devices. In a hybrid working environment this is essential.”

Steve Wicks, Application Support Analyst, Christie & Co

The Results 

Following the implementation of Intune, Christie & Co now has a modern, cloud-based desktop and mobile device management solution that is significantly more advanced than the legacy MDT solution it replaced. 

Consequently, many benefits have been realised.

  • The deployment of Autopilot provides a much more flexible and dynamic operating system deployment solution that does not require the operating system imaging or special driver management that MDT did. 
  • Computers can be built or rebuilt either in the office or remotely, only requiring the user to sign-in to start the process, which then runs without input. 
  • Automated BitLocker enablement means that the device’s hard disks are encrypted, to reduce the risk of organisational data loss. 
  • There have been significant cost savings in terms of resource time, shipping charges and import taxes for devices sent to central European offices. 
  • Windows Updates are managed automatically and delivered via the internet without the need for approval management or other admin overheads that the legacy Windows Update solution required. 
  • The Windows Update and MDT servers have been decommissioned, so reducing the on-premises services that need maintaining and managing. 
  • Applications can be automatically deployed to machines, based on group membership and either as mandatory or optional, ensuring standardised configurations.  Application deployment was not previously available so this has removed a very manual and laborious element of IT management. 
  • Additional Intune functions such as remote wipe, device locating, and endpoint analytics for health and performance monitoring are now available, all functions that are new to the Christie IT team. 

Ultimately, the difference in management capabilities between what MDT provided and what is now available with Intune is like night and day.

All the existing desktop deployment capabilities have been enhanced and fully automated, applications don’t have to be manually deployed, remote management functions are available and the admin burden has been significantly reduced.

In the future, the Christie team is looking forward to enhancing the Intune deployment by using Intune’s mobile device management (MDM) policies, which are the longer-term alternative to Active Directory Group Policy. To support this goal, a second workshop was held at the end of the project to help the Christie team understand how MDM works and the best practice approach to migrating from Group Policy.

By working with a partner like Silversands to implement Intune, Christie & Co has a device management solution which has made a substantial improvement across the organisation.

Results
  • More flexible device management
  • Reduced admin overhead
  • Additional deployment functionality
  • Enables OS deployments anywhere