** See Survey opportunity at conclusion of post - for a chance to $100** So, you've successfully deployed your new Microsoft OS with all of the insightful configurations made to optimize performance in your environment. Excellent! Oh, wait; you're not finished yet, are you? Nope, not by a long shot. Once you're finished with the OS deployment, you need to establish to which end-user the machine will be allocated, what their specific access and application needs are, and under what conditions (network connectivity) they'll be operating. Who's getting the machine? Regardless of whether it is upper management, manufacturing, engineering, clerical or professional staff, their needs may be, (and usually are) quite different both from an applications perspective as well as a computational power perspective. What applications do they need? The application sets range from standards like Microsoft Office to highly specialized applications such as AutoCAD and everything in between. Some applications are popular and highly supported in the industry. Some are so specific to your business that they were developed by an individual either in-house or outsourced and have a much smaller support base. Delivering and supporting the applications to meet the end-user's specific needs can be a daunting challenge. Where are they using it? This is a fun one. Not all employees are sitting in cubicles in one or more offices connected by heavy duty WAN lines any longer. The increase in telecommuting (not to mention BYOD) and the needs of mobile users continue to put pressure on IT organizations to quickly and efficiently provision, configure, deliver and support effective computing solutions for competitive business. What do the responses to these three questions mean? They translate into a set of parameters that will need to be applied to the specific machine either prior to delivery or upon initial login by the end-user (or administrator on behalf of the end-user). Some of the settings may be already determined and will be set by group policy when the end-user logs in for the first time, joins a domain and creates a local profile to which group policy parameters are dictated. Other settings may be applied either manually (by administrator) or initiated through a deployment solution/3rd party solution at varying stages of provisioning. Finally, applications need to be installed and personalized for that target end-user and again, this can either be achieved manually (by administrator), or initiated through a deployment solution/3rd party solution at varying stages of provisioning. What we have here appears to be a Gordian Knot that anyone would lament being required to untie. The task of provisioning end-user machines is often underestimated with respect to the actual time it requires and with respect to the expectations of those requesting the machine to be provisioned in the first place. Have you ever been asked, Why is it taking so long to get me my new laptop? I thought so. Hardware provisioning is a process that is often greater than the sum of its parts, involving a varied and sometimes conflict-ridden selection of applications with specific pre-requirements, involving a multitude of managed systems to deploy and configure those applications for first use as well as to reestablish previously applied application settings from past session use and further involving many different infrastructure-specific components to allow access to the data manipulated by the applicable applications. It's a difficult proposition and furthermore it's difficult to find, analyze and implement solutions with a complicated variety of hardware, applications and end-user needs. Hang in there!