One Month into Dell Provisioning: The Good, The Bad, and the Interesting

Hello everyone!

So I presented at Dell World on Modern Management and spoke at length about Dell Provisioning and I have probably rolled out 40-50 laptops. With that in mind, I’ve learned many things (some good and some bad). I thought I would talk about my experience and provide some interesting troubleshooting you can do to make the magic happen.

I’m still waiting on my try and buy, but I didn’t let that stop me! I used the Dell Provisioning Tool in a way that isn’t exactly blessed, but overall I got it work. You can read more about the tool and how you use it here. I’ve certainly experienced some interesting things during the preparation process. So let’s talk about that a bit.

Dell PC Preparation

Provisioning Issues in General

So you are likely going to try to prep devices for a few different reasons: (1) you recovered a device from a terminated employee and want to redeploy it or (2) you ordered a bunch of machines awhile back and they’re sitting around collecting dust. So let’s talk about how Dell makes life hard on you.

The Dell machines unbeknownst to you will be imaged in the factory thus you cannot sysprep them out of the box. You are going to need to go into properties of the folder and remove the deny access for local accounts. That’s a fun one I assure you! The main goal is that the C:\recovery folder is empty. So if it isn’t, you will need to clear it and do a “Reset my PC” hitting no to everything to make the magic happen.

You can avoid a lot of this nonsense by using a USB stick like the one Brooks Peppin posts about on his blog here. I’m a huge proponent of this approach because you will run into a bunch of situations especially with reclaimed PCs where they need to be at a certain level to even prep them. Besides that, its always good to get it up to Windows 10 1809 before preparation. I run into this a bunch where people put a PC into audit mode and it’s on Windows 10 1511 and can’t sysprep it for deployment.

Beyond this, I strongly recommend reading my other article, which talks in depth about building a zero-touch deployment for WorkspaceONE provisioning here. Beyond issues overall, I will also cover some recommendations for your build deployment through Dell that created more time as I realized there were other apps that I should make part of my initial build and decisions that ended up delaying the rollout.

Enhancing your UEM
Strategy with a
Small Assist from Dell

One thing that I took away from Dell World is realizing how important it is to leverage some of the Dell applications as part of my deployment and rollout. I suggest looking at these three below if you haven’t already, because it will elevate your UEM strategy!

Dell Command | Update
DCU
  • Supports scheduling and automating of drivers and firmware patching like Windows Update (Automation returns in version 3.1)
Dell Support Assist
supportassist.png
  • Monitors hardware and can automatically order replacement parts, open tickets, and ship them to subsequent offices.
  • Collects vital insights to give you a glimpse into your PC fleet capturing available disk space, battery life, and CPU usage.
Dell Command | Monitor
dell.png
  • Collects information from the BIOS and pulls them into WorkspaceONE UEM.
  • Helps you monitor the health of components like the battery to proactively address health and enhance your data analytics of your PCs.

The reason I love these products is they are support life-savers. Some of the values can be seen above with a special emphasis on knowing when to replace hardware that might need a refresh.

Troubleshooting Issues with Dell-Provisioned PCs using WorkspaceONE UEM

Initial Applications are Missing

Why it may happen? A few reasons apps could be missing are (1) apps are set as optional apps, (2) apps are scoped to a group they aren’t part of, (3) install failure, or (4) you had Dell apps inside of your PPKG (they aren’t supposed in your PPKG today).

The good thing to note on this one is I found a bug where if your staging account isn’t entitled for all of the apps you are packaging, it will likely remove them!

  1. Open the WorkspaceONE catalog and click “Install”
    Screen Shot 2019-05-25 at 1.59.43 PM
  2. Click “Install”
    Screen Shot 2019-05-27 at 9.08.02 AM.png
  3. If the application does not come down shortly after, right-click on the Hub icon and click “Sync”

Screen Shot 2019-05-27 at 9.09.11 AM

Application won’t install

Problem: An attempt to install an application returns as failed

Why it happens: This will typically happen because of a failed previous install, a removal due to a bug, or corrupted registry.

  1. Delete the Installer Product Registry Key from Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Installer\Products
    Screen Shot 2019-05-27 at 9.11.10 AM.png
  2. Delete the application and folder inside of AppDeployment Cache for the problematic application: C:\ProgramData\AirWatchMDM\AppDeploymentCache\
Screen Shot 2019-05-27 at 9.11.38 AM.png

Cannot log into
WorkspaceONE Catalog

Problem: You cannot get into the WorkspaceONE Catalog

Why it’s important: You need to be able to access the Catalog to start pulling down apps. You might see this screen below:

badnews.png
  1. You will want to move the PC to the right Organization Group.
  2. In the device details, click “More Actions > Change Organization Group”
    Screen Shot 2019-05-27 at 9.14.50 AM.png
  3. Select the right group and click “Save”

Some Products Didn’t Run

Problem: You heavily rely on certain products to deliver the ideal initial experience.

Why it’s important: Product Provisioning is vital to the success of a Windows endpoint.

Screen Shot 2019-05-27 at 9.15.59 AM.png

Typically, you will fix this by going into Products on the Device in AirWatch and clicking “Force Reprocess”If you don’t see the product  located in there, it’s part of a bug we’ve been tracking, where not everyone in a group is being assigned the application.

This can be fixed easily with a workaround: Edit the product and re-activate!

  1. Select the application and click “Edit”
    Screen Shot 2019-05-27 at 9.18.19 AM.png
  2. Click “Activate”
    Screen Shot 2019-05-27 at 9.18.53 AM.png
  3. Click “Activate”
    Screen Shot 2019-05-27 at 9.20.07 AM.png

VMWare WorkspaceONE
App is Missing

Problem: This typically happens because of a failure. After the device enrolls, it downloads the WorkspaceONE application and installs it using an PowerShell Script

Why it’s important: This app tends to help with pushing apps, getting new apps, and the overall user experience.You can fix this issue by running the PowerShell script as admin found here:

C:\Program Files (x86)\AirWatch\AgentUI\Resources\Bundle\AirWatchLLC.VMwareWorkspaceONE\CustomInstallPackage.ps1

You can reboot after running this script and you should find it’s now present.

In Closing

At the end of the day, technology is imperfect in its perfection. You can only be successful with new technologies (especially ones that are new) if you are willing to fail and fail again. Sometimes you need to figure out how they operate and come up with fixes. This article highlights a lot of that mindset.

Dell Provisioning isn’t perfect because partially its new and partially Windows 10 has made technologies like SysPrep and OOBE much more complex because of the evolution of attacks and technological iterations. It’s not going to be 100% perfect, but if we can achieve 75-80% perfection its a success.  Simply, it’s about understanding what to do when things go wrong.

My article talks about missteps that I have found in the process and technology and how you can fix things. Remediation is the key and that can be easily achieved if you understand how it works. I’ll continue to write about my strategy and where I see this going because getting away from imaging is a HUGE value for everyone involved. I hope more people will test and try Dell Provisioning to see the huge potential that I see in it every day.

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