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How can IT manage so many endpoint devices?

IT admins have to keep up with both the growing technology outside and the endpoint diversity inside the organization. But they can take some simple measures to manage devices.

IT teams may wish to restrict the types of devices end users can acquire and define a standardized set of endpoints, but it's unlikely that type of strategy will actually work.

With the emergence of newer endpoint devices, such as smartwatches, autonomous vehicles and smart home systems -- all of which IT will likely have to connect to enterprise systems at some point -- the diversity of connected devices in the enterprise will only increase. This trend might negatively affect IT by increasing support costs and the potential for data breaches and by making it difficult to provide uniform availability of key enterprise apps.

Here are six steps IT can take to minimize the adverse effects of the increasing amount and diversity of endpoint devices:

  • Concentrate on OS support: It's much easier to focus on supporting the software that a large variety of endpoint devices run than it is to support each individual piece of hardware that runs that software.
Not every device for every user is an advantage to the organization, even if the user thinks so.
  • Deploy apps that have universal (or near-universal) availability across all device types: That should be a key consideration whether developing internal apps or buying apps from vendors. Variations in the UIs of different OSes and in the processing power of endpoint devices will make this approach a challenge, but organizations can accomplish this goal with some planning.
  • Secure the data, not individual apps or devices: Various endpoint devices will have differing levels of security capabilities, but if IT adequately protects the data, the risk of loss is much lower than if trying to protect each device.
  • Consider virtual desktops and applications: Not all endpoint devices can run a VDI client or capable browser. But if they are able to do so, IT won't have to acquire new apps for each device and can instead run existing Windows applications. As a bonus, these desktops and apps run on protected servers in a data center.
  • Manage user expectations appropriately: Define and explain to users what endpoints the organization can support and why IT might have to limit their choices to balance their needs with those of the enterprise.
  • Educate users, especially management: Maintain an ongoing dialogue about what strategies the IT organization employs that will affect the user and his or her choices.

Taken together, these strategies can significantly reduce the overall burden on IT in an increasingly diverse world of endpoints.

This was last published in November 2017

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How do you manage so many diverse endpoints in your organization?
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