Marten Bütow
17. April 2018 1

Working on autopilot

Autopilot – that’s something I had previously encountered only in airplane-disaster films, of the sort where the captain suddenly gets food poisoning and one of the passengers has to land the plane. “OK, the autopilot can’t land the plane, but we here in the tower can talk you down …” And then the audience starts biting their nails. 

Bring your own… as easy as it is

“Package for you.” The hurried delivery driver at my door has me sign his scanner, and then he hands me my package. It contains my new Windows 10 laptop. It’s got absolutely nothing on it except for some “crapware” and a free Windows 10 image.

What I don’t yet know is that a virtual version of my laptop is already residing in the Azure cloud. And it’s paired there with a device ID for the very laptop I’ve just received. I switch on my new laptop and register it in my home network. It then connects with the Azure cloud via the Internet. I enter my corporate email address and my password, and then I’m all set. All the settings and services that my company wants me to use get installed automatically – firewall settings, a virus scanner, office software, etc. It all happens in a “zero-touch” mode. In other words, in a way that is perfect for non-technical types.

It’s almost as if some magician is pulling a rabbit out of his hat, and it basically fulfills the “Microsoft 365” promise. I’m all set to go very quickly. Welcome to the future! I’m ready at least in terms of my basic services, that is – I have a complete suite of office software, a virus scanner (Windows Defender) and mobile device management. That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at. I can add services by going to the “Store for Business.” Microsoft Intune makes it all possible. It’s brilliant.

Is it going to become complicated now?

But what about my SAP and VPN clients? Or the special applications I need for my department? Microsoft lives in a “cloud-native” web world, and it seems to have reached the limits of what that world can currently provide. And its cloud-nativeness is jolting my little legacy reality rather roughly. Either I’ll have to find a way to use those other services as web services, via my browser (memo to my employer: we need more digitalization), or my company will need to have them installed locally for me.

For that, I would need either a System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or an independent third-party who could install all the legacy applications for me via a co-management arrangement.

Data, data, data

What’s more, I – as the employee of a security-minded company – also have to think about where my data are going to be stored. Perhaps OneDrive should not be my one and only data-storage universe. A hybrid data-storage concept would provide a better home for my confidential and personal data.

Clearly, such a radical rollout and management concept is suitable only for companies with a high affinity for cloud computing. Their employees basically get their desktops on faith, i.e. in the simplest possible way. By offering companies and users a truly super-simple experience, Microsoft is being doubly clever. Because, in doing so, it’s also solidifying its own platform’s position as the leading work and collaboration platform for enterprise environments. In a very elegant way, it’s taking its strong market position straight into the digitalization era. Perhaps it’ll even be able to keep building that position. Hasn’t it been said that he who owns the platform owns the power in the 21st century? I’ll leave it up to the analysts to decide the truth of that. In any case, this new approach certainly speeds up rollouts.

I’ve truly enjoyed my virtual rollout (let’s pretend it really happened that way). By the way, it all could have worked the same way with some other type of device – such as a smart phone or a tablet. Perhaps I’ll go for one of those other devices next week – in a “real-life mode”;)

1 Comment


  • tnx for that, Marten. Really appreciated reading that. Sounds a bit like Science Fiction, though.

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