Managing a complex array of devices shouldn't require a wide variety of management tools. Simplifying your tool set can improve your IT work.
Device landscapes are rarely single platform. Even if they begin that way, the gradual addition of new employees and planned device refresh cycles are introducing new device and OS types, while consumer expectations for choice have driven up the need to support a variety of BYOD and CYOD programs. The net result is a complex multi-platform environment.
IT teams are often encumbered by having to manage each device type with a management solution specific to each device or operating system. Specialized tools originally intended to reduce complexity now instead add another layer to it. Over time, this results in a “Complexity Gap” as the number of controls and devices outpaces the staff needed to manage them all.
Rather than tossing in the towel on managing this complexity, IT teams can lean in and embrace multi-platform management: one simple, consistent way to manage an ever-changing device environment.
Complete an IT Asset Inventory
Whether it’s managed or not, you are accountable for every device connected to your network. An IT asset inventory allows you to report on devices connected to your network, helping you identify unmanaged endpoints. Beyond unmanaged devices, a full audit and report of all endpoints making up your management landscape is essential for compliance, reporting, and optimization of your workflows.
In addition to devices themselves, your detailed IT asset inventory can extend to settings, applications, and even license use to spot over- or under-used licenses.
Rethink Deployment & Imaging
Traditional “monolithic” imaging is moving into the past tense. Zero-touch deployment, using technologies such as Apple DEP, or scripted installations of operating systems, can be easily automated and executed across all supported devices. This allows you to not only future-proof your management with hardware refreshes but also keeps you covered on your legacy devices.
End-to-End Software Management
Aside from devices, the number of applications, updates, and patches seems to multiply every year. To regain control over this complexity, your endpoint management tool can help you assess compatibility before purchasing software updates, repackage applications to include any required customizations, and automatically target patches and updates to the systems that need them. Ideally, your software will allow you to customize your software packages, reducing the need to rely on end-user interactions to install.
It is one thing to be able to deploy patches, it’s quite another to keep those patches and applications where they belong. Malicious or negligent use often results in deleted apps or missed patches. The only way to get around this is with self-healing support to help keep critical applications where they belong.
Configuration and Support
Having to physically touch devices for support is a big drain on IT resources - and often an impossible scenario for distributed organizations. The ideal endpoint management tool will allow for remote control, allowing IT teams to remotely deploy configurations, files, and patches right when they are needed. Remote control helps troubleshoot problems more quickly and supply just-in-time training with screen sharing mode.
With 2019 here, IT Leaders are hitting the books and trying to plan for the fiscal year ahead.
A recent poll indicates that IT spending is on the rise for 2019, up as much as 10% over 2018 IT budgets. A favorable business climate is the primary driver of this increase, as well as a recognition that IT investments can lead to cost savings and revenue opportunities in other areas of the business. The poll indicates that the key spend areas for IT in 2019 will continue to be security and cloud services with Gartner’s forecast suggesting that enterprise software will continue to be the fastest growing IT spending category.
Employee training has emerged as one of the top three spending priorities for IT in 2019. New hiring, shifting work processes, and technologies are a driver of this, as should be security. Actions by employees, whether accidental or malicious, continue to be a leading cause of cybersecurity incidents.
In planning the coming fiscal and calendar year, IT departments should carefully consider:
What to do with a year-end surplus?
Efficient IT spending and new technology investments often result in an unexpected budget surplus. Rather than face a cut in the budget next year as a result of this ‘use it or lose it’ mentality, IT departments can look to their 2019 plan, investing in new devices, software, or training programs to jump-start new initiatives.
Planning for device refresh cycles
Devices beyond five years old begin to cost IT departments more in total cost of ownership (TCO) than purchasing new devices, so many organizations look to shorten device refresh cycles. As many organizations move toward greater flexibility, choose your own device (CYOD) programs are gaining in popularity, requiring a multi-platform solution to manage the growing complexity of device and OS choices.
Look for opportunities to save on redundant solutions
Rather than focusing only on spending, look for cost-cutting opportunities that open up areas for investment within your IT budget. Many organizations gradually accumulate siloed, duplicate solutions that serve the same function (in everything from office suites to endpoint management). Look for opportunities to unify solutions, which inevitably lead to even greater gains in IT time by reducing the complexity of managing IT environments.
Investing in stronger solutions, not more solutions
Although layered security merits investment, most organizations do not retire older security products, they just add more. Aside from cost savings, it’s been shown that there is a finite point at which adding more solutions does not add more security. Instead, IT spending should focus on adding greater automation and self-healing capabilities to target harden critical security layers.
Investing in self-service for IT
Line of business (LOB) spending is set to overtake IT department spending, often creating critical gaps in visibility, introducing greater risk to the business. LOB spending, or ‘Shadow IT’, can also result in inefficiencies in license use and duplicate software spends. IT departments can invest in self-service IT options to enable LOB efficiency without overspends or security risks.
There is no question that what was new in 2018 will seem woefully out of date by the end of 2019. When planning for the future, IT departments need to choose adaptable processes and solutions to support the technology and needs of tomorrow.