Streamlined PC Procurement Improves Productivity While Controlling Costs
Published: October 2009
Do you manage a PC procurement system? Learn how Microsoft IT closely manages the PC configurations available to its employees. Specific computer procurement guidelines allow Microsoft employees to easily purchase supported PCs. In turn, providing a limited set of supported PC configurations enables the corporation to improve application compatibility, hardware compatibility, and provide an improved user experience.
|Intended Audience||Product & Technologies|
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Microsoft IT (MSIT) created specific procurement guidelines to make it easy for employees to purchase mobile PCs. The procurement guidelines enable Microsoft to save money by reducing the variety of computers on the corporate network. This article discusses MSIT’s procurement guidelines for mobile PCs. It also discusses how MSIT uses Windows® Update and the Microsoft IT image to manage the software experience and how MSIT uses proactive OEM management to create a set of expectations with OEMs.
Baseline Set of Requirements
MSIT applies a baseline set of requirements across all of the hardware that they provide to their clients to ensure that everyone starts at the same level of technology and functionality. This allows MSIT to guarantee the client experience and also to make sure that they are purchasing technology solutions that will work for the future. End users don’t have to worry about any particular technology solution. They are just given a product that works. For example, since BitLocker Drive Encryption technology is built into Windows, one of the base-level requirements is that all mobile PCs include a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip. And because Microsoft employees communicate with one another using Unified Communications (UC) technology such as Microsoft Office Communicator, another base-level requirement is that all mobile PCs include UC-certified webcams, array mikes, and speakers. Employees don’t need to carry around a phone if they don’t want to. As long as they have a notebook PC, they’re able to communicate with other Microsoft employees, even if they’re at home or in a coffee shop.
MSIT also applies a baseline set of requirements to their peripherals business. For example, when a client selects a headset and a microphone, they select that equipment from a standards list. This enables MSIT to guarantee the experience.
The Right PC for the Right Job
MSIT divides mobile PCs into three categories:
- Ultra mobile (12-inch screens)
- Thin and light (13-inch screens)
- Productivity (14 and 15-inch screens)
“MSIT ensures that 100 percent of the drivers needed by Microsoft employees are up on Windows Update. The industry can take advantage of this work, since MSIT is basically just using enterprise-standard notebooks.”
MSIT uses roles in conjunction with the three categories to target a PC to a role. For example, MSIT steers employees who are going to do a lot of data-intensive work to the Productivity category. This allows those employees to get the best performance for the best cost. MSIT steers workers who are always on the go to the Ultra Mobile and Thin & Light categories. There are standards for security, processors, memory, hard drive, and screen size and resolution, but there is also room for personal choice in the end.
The Microsoft IT Image
MSIT’s aim is to provide technology standards “that just work.” This applies to the software experience as well. MSIT uses the Microsoft IT image to control that software experience.
MSIT has made significant improvements to the driver model by partnering with the Windows Update team. MSIT ensures that 100 percent of the drivers needed by Microsoft employees are up on Windows Update. The industry can take advantage of this work, since MSIT is basically just using enterprise-standard notebooks. As a result, those notebooks have compliance to the drivers up on Windows Update, so if an enterprise wants to deploy them to their field, they can take those drivers from Windows Update or they can bring them down to an internal server that they manage themselves. MSIT also requires OEMs, by contract, to make sure that all of the drivers for products on the MSIT standards list are up on Windows Update.
MSIT puts together a set of drivers for each operating system that they support. This includes all of the operating systems that they support, not just the current shipping systems. They build that driver support into a single global image that can be used on a wide variety of hardware.
Deconstructing the Image
MSIT starts with a base Windows image, and then layers on top of that the critical drivers and the xml settings for the out-of-the-box experience that they want to go into that image. When a user turns on a PC that has just come from the factory, the PC comes customized with the MSIT logo and other branding information. A task sequencer gives the user the choice of the 32-bit or 64-bit operating system and also gives the user the choice to install critical line-of-business (LOB) applications such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Communicator, and Microsoft Office Live Meeting. MSIT uses an unattend file to join the user to the domain. The image also includes documentation to help users with questions that they may have about certain applications or about getting their computer up and running. For example, the image provides documentation on enabling BitLocker. This saves on HelpDesk costs and also decreases user downtime. For users that do need to call the HelpDesk for one reason or another, MSIT includes support pointers in the image.
Proactive OEM Management
“MSIT uses a monthly scorecard to show how an OEM is performing as a global organization. The OEM can see their market share, their delivery service level agreements on new products, and their hardware break/fix data. They can see their parts delivery and how their hardware is trending globally.”
MSIT uses proactive OEM management to provide cost savings. Proactive OEM management involves multiple sourcing and it also involves keeping an eye on the OEMs in terms of contracts and requests for proposals (RFPs). MSIT works with the OEMs to create metrics for all of the touchpoints between the OEMs and MSIT. For example, how long does it take to receive a new PC or how long does it take to receive a part replacement for that PC? What kind of failure rates can be expected on that device? MSIT puts their expectations into the contracts. If a business unit orders 1 PC or 50 PCs, those PCs will be delivered globally within 10 days. If a PC breaks, parts are guaranteed to arrive within 24 hours. Having the metrics in the contracts gives the OEMs targets to aim for. If a particular model has a high failure rate, MSIT has language in the contract that specifies the next steps to take with the OEM to improve the client experience on that particular model.
MSIT uses a monthly scorecard to show how an OEM is performing as a global organization. The OEM can see their market share, their delivery service level agreements (SLAs) on new products, and their hardware break/fix data. They can see their parts delivery and how their hardware is trending globally. MSIT can send that data to the support desks. If users are calling the HelpDesk about a particular product, MSIT also trends that data to determine why users are calling and then provides that information to the OEM. For example, MSIT might tell an OEM that they have a problem with x driver and then show the substantiated HelpDesk call volume for the past month for that driver.
Three-Year Global Warranty
MSIT purchases a three-year global warranty for all of their mobile PCs. The three-year warranty includes driver support for unreleased operating systems as well as existing operating systems. For example, Windows 7 is currently in broad deployment at Microsoft. MSIT needs to ensure that all of the OEM drivers for the MSIT standards work well on Windows 7. MSIT requires support for a three-year install base on old and new operating systems. There should be no pain for the end user regardless of the operating system. This is exactly what has happened with the Windows 7 deployment. MSIT is running Windows 7 on all types of hardware from the three-year install base of MSIT standards. MSIT has been very pleasantly surprised by the Windows 7 metrics. The mechanisms that MSIT has put in place to guarantee the client experience have paid off.
‘Keep Your Hard Drive’ Service
MSIT also includes items in the OEM contracts to protect intellectual property. For example, MSIT purchases a service called “Keep Your Hard Drive” on all of its systems. The Keep Your Hard Drive service allows MSIT to retain the hard drive if there’s a problem with the system. This is important because MSIT doesn’t necessarily know what sort of data is on that system. The OEM ships a new hard drive and MSIT keeps the intellectual property inside the company. MSIT has a process in place to degausse the hard drives and destroy them.
MSIT applies a baseline set of requirements to all of the mobile PCs that they purchase. All mobile PCs come with a TPM chip and UC-certified webcams, array mikes, and speakers. MSIT focuses on the employee’s role at Microsoft to match that employee to a PC in one of three mobile categories. To ensure the software experience for its clients, MSIT uses the Microsoft IT image, partnering with the Windows Update team to provide the latest drivers. MSIT uses OEM contracts and three-year global warranties to provide driver compliance for all of the MSIT standards. This ensures that the MSIT standards “just work” on the three-year installation base for existing and future operating systems.
For More Information
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