Consider how many endpoint device types exist in the typical business: Virtually all have desktop and laptop computers, as well as smartphones and tablets. Many also have virtualized desktops running in a data center or the cloud. And some have wearable devices or containerized computing.
Now, think about how each of those device categories is managed. Are standard management practices applied to each and every type of device or are some left out in the cold? Is there a single management interface that allows the IT team to view the status of each of those devices and apply configuration updates as needed? How quickly can the security team move to protect data and provision a replacement device for a user with a lost, stolen or damaged device?
The answers depend on the business because organizations manage their endpoints in different ways. But maybe that shouldn’t be the case. Unified endpoint management (UEM) solutions provide business and technology leaders with the ability to affirmatively answer these questions with confidence. As the next evolution in the management of endpoint devices, UEM plays an important role in securing the future enterprise.
What Is UEM and Why Does It Matter?
Unified endpoint management solutions provide administrators with a centralized console where they can effectively manage diverse endpoint devices deployed across the enterprise. Effective UEM solutions work across device categories, operating systems, and both cloud and on-premises deployment models. They allow the management of the entire device lifecycle, from provisioning through disposal, as well as the real-time management of device configuration and policy deployment. UEM platforms automate the deployment of software and patches and facilitate the implementation of application restriction policies.
UEM is a relatively new term in the world of endpoint computing, but it comes as the next stage in the evolution of a software category that’s been around for years. It began a decade ago when smartphone and tablets proliferated and demanded centralized management. The cybersecurity industry responded with mobile device management (MDM) products that provided mechanisms to enforce policy across those devices. Vendors next started offering endpoint mobility management solutions (EMM), which incorporated more advanced features, such as the ability to manage the applications and content on mobile devices and incorporated policies specific to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments.
As organizations adopted MDM and EMM technology, they found that they were living in a split reality where they used those platforms to manage mobile devices and another, separate, platform to manage laptops and desktops. This required extra effort from administrators and became confusing as the line continued to blur between traditional endpoints and mobile devices.
This situation created the demand for unified endpoint management platforms that offered all of the functionality of EMM solutions but worked across all device types, providing the long-sought single pane of glass management approach.
How Businesses Can Surmount UEM Barriers
Despite the many benefits promised by UEM solutions, two major barriers exist to their adoption.
The first is cost. UEM platforms require both upfront implementation costs and ongoing renewal fees.
The second is time. Businesses typically already have separate solutions in place for the management of endpoints and mobile devices. Replacing those products with a new solution requires that administrators dedicate time to the transition, potentially disrupt the end-user experience, and transition business processes to the new platform.
Regarding the first concern, organizations will need to find funding to cover the upfront investment in UEM. However, the ongoing maintenance costs may already be covered by existing endpoint management budgets. IT managers considering a UEM implementation should carefully examine the cost structure of products that UEM will replace. They may find that the ongoing maintenance fees of a UEM solution are partially or completely covered by existing costs paid to EMM and system configuration management platform vendors.
The time required to implement a new tool and bring the business up to speed on its use is a more complicated problem to tackle. There’s no IT organization in the world that finds itself with a surplus of time and it’s easy for internal-facing projects, such as UEM implementation, to take a back seat to customer-facing projects that drive revenue. That’s just a business reality. But there are two mitigating factors that business and technology leaders should consider.
How to Save Time in UEM Deployment
First, many of the vendors that offered MDM and EMM platforms have evolved their platforms to include UEM capabilities. Businesses that already have one of these solutions in place may wish to prioritize upgrading the capabilities of their existing platform over selecting and implementing an entirely new solution. It’s likely that this approach will greatly reduce the effort required to complete the transition and it carries the added benefit of allowing administrators to continue using a familiar interface, reducing the transition burden.
Second, implementing a UEM solution will provide long-term benefits by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of administrators, as well as improving the security posture of the organization. UEM platforms provide the tools administrators need to perform management tasks that they previously lacked time to pursue and reduce the amount of time required to perform existing tasks. This frees up time for other technology priorities.
Unified endpoint management platforms offer businesses the ability to take control of all of their endpoints, regardless of device category or operating system. This improves the efficiency of the IT organization and protects against the risks associated with unmanaged and nonsecure devices. Businesses who do not currently have plans to deploy a UEM solution should prioritize this initiative on their IT roadmaps.