Beyond the Desktop: Giving Users Choice Plus Security
The following article is a feature in Partners Information Systems News Fall/Winter 2014-15 Edition. This quarterly newsletter for Partners HealthCare managers can be viewed when on the Partners Network: http://isintranet.partners.org/content/News/newsletter/Documents/ISnewsFall-Wint-2014-15.pdf
Supporting the PC has long been a bedrock function of Partners IS Support Services (ISS). A user needs a new PC; it is purchased, provisioned with all appropriate, Partners-approved and tested hardware and software, and supported through its life cycle. This PC support works very well as evidenced by the 65,000 or so desktop workstations currently used throughout the system.
Two years ago, the Partners Enterprise Apple Support (PEAS) program was established to provide the same for Mac users. Macs now have their own dedicated enterprise managed desktop service, which provides the support structure for Apple products across Partners.
But for some business uses and users, these options are not enough. So Partners IS is expanding its scope to better manage and support the “choose-your-own and bring-your-own device options,” says Brent Richter, associate director, Enterprise Research Infrastructure and Services (ERIS). “We know there are valid business reasons to use devices other than the current Partners standard PC,” he said. “We want to help manage them in a way that Partners HealthCare and our hospitals can assure they are compliant with all policies and security controls. And we want to support them in a more unified and proactive manner.”
This shift in approach required IS to do some internal restructuring and consolidating, creating the Consumer Technology Management team. The lifecycle of these end-user workplace devices is now a jointly shared responsibility between ERIS and ISS. “Now, design, deployment, and high-level support is the responsibility of my ERIS team, with the helpdesk and technical support of these devices resting with ISS.”
The first new project for the teams is to develop a process for non-standard or “unmanaged” PCs – non-HP PC brands such as Dell and Lenovo. This includes designating a single reseller/vendor who can provide a variety of PC brands to users. “These will inherit many characteristics from the standard Partners PCs,” said Richter, “including setting them up to meet the Partners standards for software and security before the user receives the new PC.”
In addition, major applications such as Outlook, VPN, encryption software, Java and others “will be tested before they hit these devices,” he added, “rather than reacting to users’ issues after they buy a device at Best Buy, or anywhere, and contact us when they have a problem. We want to be sure that the new device will be compatible with the other major applications in use at Partners.” A decision on the new reseller is expected after the new year.
Besides non-standard PCs, other devices included in the new program will be iPads, iPhones, Android devices, and tablets such as Windows Surface and Surface Pro. “Also in-scope are devices attached to the computers, such as peripheral storage devices,” said Richter. Work on incorporating these will begin in the coming months.
The primary advantage is that the process provides one-stop shopping through the Partners reseller while allowing for choices that fit business needs from the clinic to the research lab. “We’ll make sure that the device, through provisioning and testing, is compliant with our policies and privacy and security needs. Users won’t have to think about it – it will already be built in when they receive their new device. I think this will provide an overall better experience for the Partners community, providing flexibility while, as we like to say, ‘Keeping it Safe and Secure.’”
Lisa Ephgrave, IS
Donna Fraser, BWH
Scott MacLean, PHS
Information Systems News is published quarterly. © 2015 Partners HealthCare