What does automated endpoint management do?
You probably know without having to think about it: How much time do you and your colleagues spend every day on routine Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) tasks like patching, installing, updating and securing? I'm probably not wrong in saying that it takes up a large part of your average workday.
But what exactly does UEM mean? It’s most commonly defined as the integration of client lifecycle management tasks for all network end devices within a common framework and interface. In addition to classic PCs and laptops, endpoints managed by UEM systems include servers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, dedicated handheld devices and, more recently, IP telephones.
baramundi also includes mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM). We also provide a UEM solution for Industry 4.0 IoT networks used in production environments. The goal of a UEM solution is to make management of an organization’s computing infrastructure simpler, consistent, timely and more efficient for IT teams.
The total number of devices in a medium-sized company typically is many times the number of employees. When you add in the diversity of device types, brands, age, uses and other factors it means one thing for IT admins: a lot of work!
Most tasks associated with device administration aren’t particularly complex, but they are necessary and recurring. That predictability creates an opportunity – you can easily automate many tasks so they can be completed in less time and with greater reliability. That’s true whether a given task is repeated frequently, periodically or occasionally on 50, 500 or 5,000 endpoints.
Most IT admins can easily create a long list of routine tasks that are candidates for automation – just think of the number of times you’ve thought “I should write a script for that.” That’s where modern UEM software shines because it makes it possible to automate nearly every time-consuming manual process such as:
- Inventory of hardware and software
- license management
- Installation of operating systems and applications
- provisioning of MDM devices
It is important that UEM automation meets two key requirements. On one hand, it must be able to handle the fine and often variable details of each endpoint management task with precision. On the other hand, creating, customizing and using UEM automation must be simple, intuitive and efficient. After all, there’s little sense in automating tasks if process or results add complexity or workload.
A good UEM solution must really make the IT team's life easier with just a few “handles” for frequent tasks such as the installation, configuration and upgrade of Windows systems. Ideally, scripts can be created in just a few steps simply by dragging and dropping pre-defined, familiar operations, e.g. install Windows natively or via cloning, enable or disable specific OS options, deploy and update common applications like Office or specific apps needed by users in finance, sales, engineering, marketing, etc.
Flexibility is paramount. In the case of updates for Windows 10, for example, administrators can selectively install only the desired elements in waves or phased rollouts to different groups of users. Such an approach accounts not only for when and where to deploy hotfixes or features and security updates, but also to whom, i.e. start with a few tech-savvy users who can confirm performance and compatibility, then add other users when everything seems stable. That results in less work for IT teams while increasing endpoint performance, user satisfaction and overall security.
What’s more, UEM provides that orderly and consistent approach for mobile devices and other types of endpoints within a “single pane of glass” admin interface.
Automation also gives IT departments comprehensive transparency about the composition and state of their IT infrastructure.
For example, our UEM solution, the baramundi Management System (bMS), creates a comprehensive inventory report and visual map of network endpoints via automated capture, along with detailed information about all types and versions of hardware, operating systems and installed applications. IT teams always know exactly which applications are installed, in which version, and where and how often each is being used. The bMS inventory also includes the status of endpoint software licenses. That’s important for managing SaaS renewals, for avoiding over- or under-licensing, for IT budget planning, and for documenting license compliance.
The key thing to remember is that a modern UEM solution not only simplifies management of multiple endpoint types by using a consistent admin interface and processes. By making it easy to create and use highly customizable automations for most routine endpoint management tasks, an intelligent UEM solution also gives IT admins the time they need and want to apply and expand their expertise while improving network reliability, IT security and user satisfaction.