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Businesses need stability and performance

Now that employees can work productively in so many diverse locations, it’s even more essential to have dependable, consistent computing platforms for them to use

Working from home has boomed during the 2020 pandemic, and the shift in employment patterns is likely to have permanent repercussions. The added flexibility has found quite a favourable response from workers, but it has potential downsides for the IT department. Aside from security concerns from a working environment that is outside the office, and the added burden of supporting systems remotely, there is the danger of handling a proliferation of different computing equipment. Tackling this brave new world of work requires predictable platforms that remain manufacturer-supported throughout their business lifecycle.

A key part of this is being certain that when staff requirements change – for example switching between mobile home working and the office or vice versa – they can still be furnished with a familiar platform that hasn’t undergone potentially de-stabilising hardware changes. Although new hardware will almost certainly mean improved performance, from the perspective of IT support this must be weighed against the potential for unpredictable software compatibility and driver behaviour that may accompany the extra speed. A faster system is not so useful if it’s causing unwanted behaviour with the most important applications employees use, as this can lead to downtime that will in turn cost money.

It’s particularly important to ensure that the operating system and software are kept up to date with the latest security patches, to maintain system safety for employees. But having to validate these patches against lots of different hardware configurations will delay rollout by considerably increasing the time taken in the validation process. Once a vulnerability has been discovered, it’s a race against those looking to exploit it to get a patch validated and installed. There were over 12,000 vulnerabilities discovered in 2019, and over 16,000 in 2018, underlining the continual war going on between hackers and system administrators. With more employee systems outside the safety of the corporate firewall as they work from home, it’s even more imperative that no outdated, unpatched systems are left at the mercy of attackers.

The last few years have been littered with examples of companies falling foul of a lax patching policy. The most infamous is Equifax in 2017, where 148 million client records were exposed by a two-month delay in patching after a vulnerability was discovered. In 2018, a Singaporean healthcare organisation lost 1.5 million patient records, including one for the prime minister of Singapore himself, due to an unpatched version of Microsoft Outlook. In the same year, a Fortune 500 company failed to patch the Windows operating system on 1,100 devices, many of which ended up having malware installed to mine cryptocurrency. Even Facebook failed to patch three vulnerabilities, leaving 30 million accounts open to identity theft, which resulted in a potential fine in the billions of dollars.

In other words, you don’t want any obstructions to the rapid rollout of software updates. Patch management software company NinjaRMM claims its internal research has revealed that 25-30% of Windows 10 patches fail. If you are patching identical systems, however, this percentage will be drastically reduced towards zero, because update behaviour will be predictable with a standard hardware configuration. In fact, if a patch does fail on a validated platform, it signals that there could be something wrong with that system, which warrants further IT administrator attention.

However, you also don’t want your employees to be using IT equipment that doesn’t deliver the performance they require to get their work done. You need to be confident that the IT platforms made available to them provide not just what they want now but more than enough for years to come, otherwise this will impact their workflow. If you don’t, it may even convince them to start using BYO devices that are outside the corporate purview, in frustration. If employees are supplied with company systems that meet their needs, they will keep using them.

The Intel vPro® platform can provide everything a company needs to address these issues, delivering an assurance that a configuration will be available for at least 15 months. The configurations are rigorously tested with OEMs to ensure that all components meet standards of quality, reliability and compatibility. This is validated through the Intel® Stable IT Platform Program (Intel® SIPP), which aims for zero hardware changes through the buying cycle.

Choosing vPro® platform systems, whether notebook or desktop, also ensures cutting-edge business performance. Intel SIPP includes mobile and desktop processors from the 10th generation of Intel® Core™ i5, i7, i9 and Xeon ranges, offering blistering performance balanced against long battery life for mobile systems. Validated configurations incorporate modern chipsets and networking, including the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology, providing futureproofing for WLAN throughput. There’s support for super-fast Intel® Optane™ Memory as well. All these platforms include capable processor-integrated graphics, ensuring that display drivers also remain stable, up to date, and compatible with the overall system.

Another advantage of Intel SIPP is that it isn’t just about enforcing one path based on the latest software versions. Intel validates multiple versions of Windows 10 on each hardware configuration, so if a business wants to stay with an earlier version until specific software has been fully tested on a newer Windows Update, it can perform the transition when ready and continue to enjoy Microsoft extended support on its current operating system.

Even where a system with specialised abilities is required beyond standard company configurations, ensuring that it supports the Intel vPro® platform will mean that the same tools can be used to manage it remotely. With Intel SIPP, it will be from one integrated and validated solution. The new system can be up and running more quickly as the image deployment, setup and configuration are facilitated by the known, trusted hardware target platform.

The shift towards working from home and mobile computing in general has stretched IT resources geographically. But by ensuring that the devices these employees use are from a trusted, stable and performance-futureproofed platform you can keep your business going securely and efficiently, despite the changes in employee lifestyles. That means your business can continue to thrive as working practices diversify.

Learn more about the Intel vPro® platform and how it can help your business

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