When time to service matters, zero-touch deployment is non-negotiable
When Toyota introduced the concept of lean manufacturing in 1930, companies across the globe took note. As this model was widely implemented and legitimized by thousands of businesses and enterprise giants throughout the decades — including Nike, Intel, Kimberley-Clark Corporation, and John Deere — principles of lean manufacturing extended to IT departments that were eager to eliminate work and superfluous processes that didn’t add value to their services.
While the implementation of lean IT comes with innumerable upsides, including improved agility, adaptability, and responsiveness, there is little room for error and overextension of resources, making zero-touch deployment essential when establishing cellular connectivity for edge networks.
What is zero-touch deployment?
Zero-touch deployment is akin to the computing term “plug and play.” It’s a scalable model in which settings, configurations, and firmware are preprovisioned, making on-site activation possible with minimal touchpoints or manual processes.
For enterprise customers that require rapid connectivity but operate with limited resources or technical experience, zero-touch deployment of routers provides a highly efficient out-of-the-box solution.
Benefits of zero-touch deployment in a lean IT environment
Especially in remote locations and among small teams, employees in a lean IT environment are known to wear many hats. Enterprise businesses don’t always have dedicated network engineers, and if they do, those employees may have other areas of responsibility that prevent them from prioritizing large swaths of time to device activations. Zero-touch deployment virtually dissolves this bottleneck, allowing employees to focus on higher priority tasks.
Zero-touch deployment and cloud-based router management go hand in hand with lean IT, for which the guiding principle is to create perfect value for customers through zero-waste processes. Simply put, it’s about creating more value with fewer resources.
It’s important to understand how zero-touch is defined by different organizations. Although a widely used term in the technology industry, zero touch doesn’t always mean plug and play. In many cases, the end customer oversees device registration, meaning they must place their order and wait for the product to arrive before inputting the device serial numbers into a cloud management system to register that device within the cloud management system. Because these are baseline requirements for activating the device, it must take place even before connecting a SIM and configuring the device. For companies activating multiple devices, this is a particularly daunting task to manage.
At Cradlepoint, routers are registered in a customer’s cloud management account before leaving the warehouse, and all licensing, entitlements, and device registration requirements are completed before shipping. Customers even have the option to ship the device with a SIM card, eliminating the extra step of sourcing this from the carrier. This is advantageous for customers on a tight timeline who can’t allocate resources to setup, especially if it’s the setup of dozens, hundreds, or thousands of routers or adapters in various locations.
True zero-touch deployment accelerates time to service
Zero-touch is the fastest setup option for enterprise business routers. This is especially important in a world where time is money. In fact, a study conducted by Gartner found the average cost of network downtime to be close to $5,600 per minute, emphasizing the importance of simple remote deployments.
Failure to select a zero-touch deployment option can lead to increased time to service and poor customer experience. If a product’s activation process includes too many manual touchpoints, which leaves more room for error and subsequent time troubleshooting.
Implementation of a cloud-based router management system like Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Manager can further reduce operational waste in lean IT by enabling bulk activations, configurations, and software updates for multiple routers and modems at once. This is particularly important for businesses that require remote monitoring and management of thousands of locations, including retail kiosks, clinics, public safety, and mass transit.
Seattle-based mass transit service King County Metro is one example of how zero-touch deployment and remote IT management improved enterprise efficiency. This fixed-route bus service comprises more than 1,750 metro buses serving more than 2.25 million people through Seattle, Redmond, and Bellevue, Washington. Network engineers at King County can push updates across the entire fleet at once thanks to remote IT management through Cradlepoint NetCloud Manager, and zero-touch deployment allows new buses to be brought online in record time without a dedicated on-site engineer.