The Evolution of Endpoint Management

Unified endpoint management (UEM) is neither a new term nor a new technology. Rather, it’s a bundling of existing technologies into a comprehensive single platform for managing the enterprise endpoint estate of digital assets. UEM brings together tools such as mobile and desktop/laptop client management, application management and delivery, and policy management and enforcement.

Why is UEM Important?

Endpoint management is a challenge for all organizations. Endpoints include phones and laptops, internet of things (IoT and smart devices, operational technology such as sensors and door entry systems, and emerging device types such as wearables and VR headsets—any tool used to access business assets. All of these endpoints have similar requirements: assets need to be managed, controlled, secured, tagged, patched, and supported when issues occur.

Addressing Complexity
The broad range of devices and requirements brings complexity. Devices must be secure as they’re used to access business data, which may include sensitive information and intellectual property. Additionally, the security and patching needs of a device running a piece of critical infrastructure are very different from that of the sales team’s mobile phones.

Organizations can only build reliable and secure environments with a broad overview of the entire endpoint estate, which can be achieved by unifying the management of endpoints into a single solution.

Improving the User Experience
To securely access business data, users need their devices to be reliable, easily accessible, and well maintained. Additionally, with so many organizations embracing flexible work arrangements, endpoint management and support needs to be remote and seamless for the user.

If organizations severely restrict device usage, this will hinder employee flexibility and productivity. UEM solutions help organizations improve the user experience and find the right balance between business efficiency and enterprise control.

UEM Today

Modern organizations demand much of their endpoint environments and devices. This has driven the UEM market and its vendors to build comprehensive solutions that carry out tasks far beyond the basics of mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM), and customer service management (CSM).

UEM solutions today will also:

  • Manage a broader range of endpoints including IoT, VR, smart devices, and OT.
  • Patch software including third-party applications.
  • Provide security enforcement.
  • Provide conditional access and geolocation controls to help create a more localized user experience.
  • Apply on-demand adaptive policies to deliver appropriate policy based on users’ real-time needs.

Leading UEM solutions offer comprehensive endpoint management across a broad range of devices and bring support, maintenance, access controls, and security under a centralized management console. This helps to simplify complex tasks and reduce operational overhead.

UEM Tomorrow

Endpoint management is only becoming more complex and the need to bring even more tasks into a single platform continues to grow. Vendors are responding and adding more capabilities to their UEM solutions:

  • Advanced security: Security is a core challenge and endpoints are one of the biggest threat vectors to defend. Increasingly, vendors are looking at incorporating advanced threat detection and response into their products, some via integration while others are building native capabilities to bring endpoint security and management together.
  • Advanced analytics: With such large and complex digital estates, the amount of telemetry that can be gathered from endpoints is significant. Operations teams need help in absorbing this flood of information. The increased use of AI/ML and powerful analytics engines is helping to make sense of it, whether that is to identify poorly performing devices, carry out security assessments, or prioritize patching, advanced analytics is invaluable for driving down operations overhead.
  • Automation: Increasingly, vendors are leveraging automation, so UEM solutions act like endpoint-focused orchestration platforms. Endpoint management is full of both repetitive tasks and unplanned issues that must be dealt with quickly. Building automated workflows will help in both cases, reducing operations overheads while also allowing teams to respond more quickly when dealing with issues such as vulnerabilities or poorly performing devices.
  • Digital endpoint experience (DEX): Remember that the end-user experience should always be central to UEM. DEX has been around for a while as a method for ingesting measurable telemetry from devices and applications to better understand endpoint performance and user experience. Looking at things that impact performance allows operations teams to more proactively deal with potential end-user issues. Increasingly, DEX is now integrated into UEM to arm operations teams with more useful insights.

UEM will continue to evolve to meet the ever more complex demands of endpoint management. It remains an intriguing and innovative part of IT.

Next Steps

To learn more, take a look at GigaOm’s UEM Key Criteria and Radar reports. These reports provide a comprehensive overview of the market, outline the criteria you’ll want to consider in a purchase decision, and evaluate how a number of vendors perform against those decision criteria.

If you’re not yet a GigaOm subscriber, you can access the research using a free trial.