The COVID-19 pandemic brought in many changes and established a new normal. New age remote working, or the ‘hybrid work era’ is one of the markers of the new order. Today, organizations are offering their employees the flexibility of working from the location of their choice — office or home, or even a location of their personal preference.
This huge shift calls for digital workspace providers to take the workspace to where the users are, while maintaining the basic principles of operations which is “system stability, performance and agility” without compromising its security perimeters and ease of operations.
The ongoing crisis is proving to be a critical time for field service organizations. To ensure business continuity, many are turning to innovative technologies to overcome these new and unforeseen challenges.
Challenges in meeting remote system support requirements
With a drastic surge in the number of employees engaged in remote work, an obvious outcome is the increase in the number of issues faced by them and need for more support. The safety of employees and customers, while ensuring business continuity, is top priority for digital service providers across industries.
Disruption in field-support and device dispatches: The abrupt shift to remote work combined with zero change to responsibilities to deliver on time has altered user expectations. For field services, balancing user expectations of seamless experience sans any device failure or interruption is a challenge. With stringent restrictions in place in view of safety, IT enterprises are constrained to rethink the legacy service systems approach of ‘hands and feet support’ and ‘device dispatches’.
Adverse user experience: Due to the prevailing restrictions, inordinate delays in dispatches of devices are inevitable. The prolonged downtime for mean time to resolve (MTTR) adversely impacts the user productivity, in turn affecting user experience and the organization’s bottom-line. This leaves some pertinent questions to be answered. Is there a solution available that can minimize hardware breakdowns that contribute to system’s stability and system performance? Even if there is a device break-down preventing boot-up / start-up, can a solution help fix it remotely? Can a solution isolate a virus-infected machine from the corporate network and still troubleshoot it remotely at the Bios level?
Lack of preparedness and dearth of solutions – especially remote-control ones: Most businesses were not ready for the pandemic-level disruptions, with only 2% believing that their businesses could run at ‘normal’ levels, according to a survey by Help Net Security.
The hybrid work era has also brought in a huge demand for more devices as people work from home. This is quite evident from the 8% CAGR expected in the global computers market by 2025, which will be a $500 billion industry. These numbers are indicative of the potential risks and challenges in end user device management.
It is widely accepted that end user devices are at the core of workplace technology. However, the non-availability of a remote management solution which can help administrators to remotely troubleshoot / isolate problems that lie beneath the operating system (OS) layer only exacerbate the problem.
Leveraging technology for adaptability
There is a strong need for enabling innovative ways to provide remote field support in the new normal. The IT enterprises focus should be on providing an integrated and stable workplace with cost effective out-of-band (OOB) remote management capability. Obviously, all these should be provided without compromising the system security and performance that can contribute to enhanced digital employee experience.
Leveraging a combination of in-band and out-of-band management holds the key towards effective remote field support. With in-band management, the remote session can be established over the OS layer. However, a prerequisite is that the device needs to be powered on and the user to be signed-in to the device.
In contrast, OOB management establishes a remote session at the bios level leveraging Transport Layer Security (TLS) communication. Since this OOB management is provided below the OS layer and runs on the hardware level, it does not require the device to be powered on.
Table 1 provides a high-level comparison between in-band versus out-of-band remote management:
In-band remote management
Out-of-band remote management
Devices need to be powered on and connected to a network source (Internet/Intranet)
Need active OS running on the device
More features as software controlled
Completely agent based and dependent on active service running under service section of OS
Devices need to be connected to a power source with an active Wi-Fi/LAN
Device need not be running on the OS
Chipset + SW Agent controlled
KVM is in-built at the chip level, so bios level mouse and keyboard remote control is possible
It complements and enhances the traditional remote management tool
Table 1: Comparison between in-band and out-of-band remote management
Wipro recommends an integrated and stable platform that minimizes system disruptions at the thermal, electrical, and mechanical levels contributing to system uptime and user productivity. This platform benefit users by:
Transformative technology with Wipro + Intel®
Collaborating closely with Intel®, Wipro has leveraged amalgamated integration via the Intel vPro® platform to enhance its remote field support services, in response to the paradigm shift to remote working at scale and other pandemic challenges. The result is TruRemote, part of Wipro’s LiveWorkspaceTM offering. Being a part of the Out of Band remote management services, it allows administrators to remotely take control of devices at the chipset/bios level, as needed.
TruRemote leverages OOB remote management to connect to home or office devices from anywhere in the world through wired or wireless connections. This offering is powered by a collection of computer hardware technologies from Intel®, including:
The hardware based Intel AMT allows Wipro to provide continual out-of-band connectivity independent of the OS allowing flexibility to fix a broader range of system issues across multiple devices including personal computers (PC) and laptops based on the Intel vPro platform. Used in combination with Intel processors and network controllers, it is a key component in the hardware-enhanced manageability and security strategy. Intel End Point Management Assistant software as part of Intel AMT allows Wipro to remotely and securely manage devices on known Wi-Fi networks beyond the firewall too.
Table 2 illustrates various use cases where Wipro’s TruRemote can provide remote field services for devices:
Use cases / Sample scenarios resolved using TruRemote
Blue Screen on Death
Login issues / Laptop booting issues
Any ticket that involves Restart, Reboot, Format, Re-Image and Patching
Troubleshooting of unattended machines – Sales Kiosks, Stores PCs or Factory PCs
Bios password issues – Resolved without sharing the admin password with the users
Encryption password issues – Resolved without sharing the admin password with the users
Trust relationship error / Domain related issues
Isolate virus infected machines from the corporate network and remotely troubleshoot over the internet
Table 2: Various errors that can be remediated by TruRemote
While the novelty of remote work can be refreshing, it can pale just as quickly when user device issues that require immediate remediation crop up. For example, the blue screen of death or the inability to boot the device due to various reasons. It is observed that 8% to 12% of the overall tickets that are escalated to and resolved by field support Services, at least 25% to 30% can be resolved with TruRemote.
In a sample space of 1000 relevant field service tickets, it is a direct cost saving of $ 200K annually. In addition, assuming a productivity downtime of at least 24 hours for a next business day support, this is at least a million dollars in potential savings. User experience and customer satisfaction are realized additionally as intangible benefits.
Sheer numbers for the total productive downtime due to varying field services resolution times is staggering. In this hybrid work era, obviously, innovative solutions that minimize device downtime and maximize productivity are the need of the hour.
Recognizing these needs, Wipro has created customized and amalgamated integrations for Intel vPro™ Platform with other software components that allow remote support teams to achieve:
Seamless remote working
COVID-19 has necessitated changes that are here to stay. Barring some industries or services such as healthcare, aviation, manufacturing, etc., remote working is possible. Regardless of when the pandemic subsides, we are likely to witness significant increase in remote working than ever before.
The new ways of working have given rise to new technologies that ensure the availability of devices and the flexibility to the remote worker, while ensuring device security. Wipro’s TruRemote is a definitive step in that direction. Such technologies will remain relevant for the new way of working besides spurring future innovations.
If you are interested in learning how Wipro is helping our clients empower their field support teams, connect with us
About the Author
Practice Director – Digital Workplace services, iCORE–CIS, Wipro
Lakshmi has two decades of experience in Business development, pre-sales, Consulting and Program Management in the IT Infrastructure services domain where he leads engagements with existing client relationships. His role focuses ensuring that Wipro’s clients get the value of the larger DWP practice. Lakshmi also manages the Wipro TruRemote offering while helping customers across industries with out of band remote management solutions. This offering is also integrated as part of the larger DWP offerings – Live WorkSpace™ and WaaS360.