There’s no getting around the fact that enterprise mobility has steadily grown in importance and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The confluence of lightweight, fully functional devices and cloud computing means that all areas of the enterprise—the hospital ward, cab of a truck, warehouse, the retail floor and field technicians—can benefit from mobile access to enterprise applications. And that’s to say nothing of the enterprise users who expect 24/7 access wherever they are: in the office, on the road, or at home, using company-provided or personal devices on a wide range of platforms.
IT teams have struggled to keep pace with the business needs while simultaneously keeping networks, data, and applications safe from hackers, disasters, and operator error. Enterprise mobility management (EMM) systems have provided some help in managing and securing mobile devices, but it seems that they’re always a step or two behind where the business wants to go with mobile. And of course, enterprise mobility management has naturally focused on mobile devices and usually isn’t much help for traditional desktop and laptop computers.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a system that could manage all types of devices, on all platforms, and let the IT department get ahead of the curve instead of always playing catch-up?
Enter: Unified Endpoint Management
Happily, this is exactly the direction that the industry is going. The traditional makers of enterprise mobility management systems, such as MobileIron, VMware, IBM, and Citrix, are expanding their capabilities, evolving their product offerings towards unified endpoint management (UEM): systems that can manage and secure desktops, laptops, phones, tablets, and other devices, be they based on Windows, iOS, Android, or anything else.
This evolution has been helped along to some degree by the fact that few enterprises have homogeneous IT environments, and that solutions such as Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) are too narrowly tailored to be a comprehensive solution for all devices in the enterprise. As a result, Microsoft and Apple are providing APIs that enable third-party solutions to include management of Windows and Apple desktop and laptop machines, in addition to the traditional mobile platforms.
What’s In It for You
For the IT support team, the benefits of this evolution are many:
- A consistent set of policies and security standards can be applied to all devices on all platforms;
- Fewer headaches in coordinating updates among different teams (the SCCM team vs. the mobile team, for instance)
- Reduced gaps between updating different device types;
- Reduced security risk across the enterprise;
…and more, all of which adds up to reduced effort and cost to maintain your diversified IT ecosystem.
The evolution from enterprise mobility management to UEM is not yet complete and some UEM providers have limited support for GPOs (group policy objects) which are essential to Windows system and security management. UEM providers will need to work around these gaps for the time being. But the direction is clear.
At Mobile Mentor, we are excited about this next step in device management, because of the opportunity it affords the IT team to be proactive, rather than reactive, in helping the business meet its goals. If you’re ready to explore your options in this area, we’d like to talk to you about it.