How to Plan a Large Scale Tablet Deployment

Education, Enterprise, Healthcare, Hospitality, Retail and Other Vertical Markets Require Strategies and Solutions

Is your school, business or venue ready for a large scale tablet deployment? Tablets continue to become more affordable with each passing day, but even if budget is not a concern, there are plenty of other factors to consider. Tablets are generally intuitive and easy to use, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a flawless deployment of many devices.

Like their smaller smartphone counterparts, tablet computers are generally designed for a single user scenario: one user, one account, one device. Bringing that technology into an environment where multiple users may be utilizing the same device opens up a myriad of other concerns. Even in a strict one-to-one deployment, using a tablet as more than “just” a consumer device creates challenges depending on the usage model and environment.  Security, privacy, content filtering, wi-fi connectivity, app purchases and the downloading of content are common concerns of employers, educators and IT departments.

A Windows 7 or Windows 8 based tablet will minimize some of these concerns, as the Windows operating system already has a well developed ecosystem of advanced software to define usage policies and restrictions. The same challenges that have long faced IT departments in charge of desktop and laptop PC provisioning are now arising in response to mobile technology. Mobile operating systems such as Android offer some solutions, but they are generally not as well developed as those of Windows.

Nevertheless, the cost savings alone may make the more affordably priced Android tablets a superior alternative. New apps and services are continually being developed which address the concerns of enterprise users. Assessing your needs and researching options will help you set realistic expectations. You probably won’t find an out-of-the-box solution that will do everything you want to do with a tablet. However, if you are prepared to spend some time planning head, you can almost always come up with a viable solution.

Some questions to ask:

Will the devices be stationary or mobile?

–          If mounted, what type of mounting solution is best?

  • Do the tablets need the ability to rotate?
  • Do they need a tether to allow limited mobility?
  • Do you want to include an anti-theft alarm?

–          Will users be taking the devices home with them?

–          What other anti-theft measures are necessary?

–          Do you need GPS tracking of the devices?

How will app and content purchases be handled?

–          Most app stores require a user account and credit card on file.

–          Will users have their own accounts and payment methods?

–          Will certain types of apps be restricted?

–          Will purchased apps or content (ebooks, music, etc.) be restricted?

–          Will users have full freedom to install any apps?

Do you have the wi-fi infrastructure to support a large tablet deployment?

–          In a public environment, wi-fi hotspots may require logging in or clicking through a “terms of use” agreement via web browser.

–          Your ISP may place limits on data consumption – for example, streaming music and movies on a tablet requires lots of bandwidth.

What kind of protection will you need for viruses, malware and spyware?

Do you need to block certain types of web sites?

–          Will you use a cloud-hosted service or apps running locally on the devices?

Do you need the ability to push out software updates “over-the-air?”

Do you need the ability to remotely wipe or lock a stolen or lost device?

Mobile device management (MDM) is a growing field that addresses many of the above questions. For example, an MDM solution may facilitate over-the-air software updates and the provisioning of user accounts and applications. An MDM service may fill most of your needs, but often you will need to find additional solutions for security, anti-virus, content filtering and parental controls.  Depending on your requirements, it is likely that you may need to piece together multiple solutions to meet all your needs.

Rolling out a tablet deployment on a large scale is not as easy as it might sound at first. On the other hand, it should not be too intimidating. There are a lot of factors to consider, but they are easily manageable if you plan ahead and set realistic expectations.

About Jason Holstein 3 Articles
Jason is a copy writer, marketing professional, business development specialist and tech enthusiast. Working in the consumer electronics field by day, he spends his spare time toiling away at freelance writing projects, writing fiction and poetry, making music, reading books and playing with kittens. His interests include speculative and experimental fiction, poetry, mobile technology, electronic music, classic rock, noise music, furry animals, and all manner of absurdity, oddity and esoterica. Jason has been writing for personal pleasure for more than two decades and has over fifteen years of professional experience with journalism, marketing, academia, blogging, web articles and technical writing.

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