iET Core Competency: Hardware and Software Rollouts

Hi André

You are a Project Manager at iET and have worked on many hardware and software rollouts during your time at iET. I’m curious…

What role does iET play in the area of rollouts? What range of services do you offer?

A comprehensive, individual service is very important to us. Therefore, we basically take over all tasks of a rollout, i.e. from A to Z, whatever the customer requires. In practice, this is divided into the areas of project staffing, staging of equipment, general rollout logistics, the disposal of old equipment in the case of hardware rollouts, and the overall project management, which covers all phases.

To ensure that such a project generates as little friction as possible, we often employ a project manager on site and a project manager or coordinator internally at iET. The project manager on site is already active in the planning phase, the project manager or coordinator internally at iET holds the strings together with a focus on capacity planning and staffing.

What is the size of the rollouts that iET carries out?

This varies greatly, only the quality of the rollout itself is always the same. The rollouts we carry out can be small, for example: the replacement of very specific mobile devices for a 24-hour emergency service within some departments of a hospital. We also manage the renewal of PC equipment for a large firm, comprising a few thousand complete workstations. We recently completed such a rollout for a major international company with several locations in Switzerland.

How long does such a project take from planning to completion?

Because systems today have a relatively short life cycle, many companies are planning software and hardware rollouts according to a fixed cycle. It is not uncommon for the planning of the next generation to begin immediately after the rollout of the current generation is completed. Rollouts, whether software, hardware or both, can therefore drag on for years. The actual rollout only lasts a few weeks or months.

What logistical challenges have to be mastered?

Despite careful planning, consideration of possible disruptions, breakdowns or similar and the creation of fallback scenarios, surprises always happen. So far we have always managed to complete our tasks on time and in perfect quality.

In the past, for example, we struggled with the weekend driving ban for trucks, so we simply created our own transport solution. Sealing the equipment for transport to and from the staging area can also be challenging from time to time, or – which didn’t cause us cold but wet feet – working on a construction site flooded by a water pipe that burst. Here, the resulting delays were a real sticking point.

In any case, flexibility in logistics is essential. One time, a customer did not think about inventorying its hardware in the run-up to the upcoming rollout. iET stepped in at short notice and quickly programmed a database to solve the problem. In short: We can be very flexible with such things.

What actually happens to the devices that have reached the end of their life cycle?

Data security and the ecologically sensible re-use of the infrastructure are the main focus here. This is very important to us. First we take care of a complete wipe of the data, then we organize the sale of the hardware to a third party or to several buyers. These are often commercial resellers who use these perhaps not quite up to date devices to create interesting special offers for their customers.

A particularly good feeling arises when we know that the decommissioned infrastructure continues to provide good services in development aid projects.

What role does data security play?

Today, practically all companies place great emphasis on data security, right up to the moment the hardware is replaced. The focus is then often exclusively on the new IT equipment. The old equipment is forgotten, but too soon. That’s why we work together with a certified specialist in this area, who takes care of the wiping of the devices. Further measures are the sealing of the devices, traceable securing of the path of a device as soon as data is stored on it, as well as generally the permanent monitoring of the hardware.

What are lessons learned from successful rollouts?

Planning is of course the be-all and end-all, but you will always find situations that cannot be planned in advance or unexpected stumbling blocks will occur. This requires a high degree of flexibility and of course creative solutions. Something that is without doubt one of our strengths.

We have carried out many rollout projects and our network is accordingly large. We can fall back on experts at short notice and thus react promptly and flexibly to challenges.

André, thank you very much for this insightful conversation.