In the past, IT administrators had to manage multiple PCs and mobile devices separately. But today's endpoint management software makes it possible to do so from a unified console. And from that console, admins can manage several key features, such as operating systems, application deployment and asset and security management.
Endpoint management software that includes ample support for computers and mobile devices is emerging and undergoing modifications to include an even broader set of capabilities. There's no one-size-fits-all client management tool, but there are several robust options companies can choose from.
Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is Microsoft's tool for automating change and configuration management in large networked environments.
Microsoft Intune functions as a stand-alone product or as a cloud-based extension of SCCM. Intune is also part of the Office 365 commercial subscription. Intune focuses on MDM, application management and PC management. It supports Windows 8.1 and 10, Mac OS X, Android, iOS and Windows mobile devices. With Intune client software installed, administrators can deploy apps, update software, configure security software and more.
IBM BigFix -- formerly IBM Endpoint Manager -- is a highly scalable product geared toward enterprises. It provides multi-platform support for Windows, Mac OS X, smartphones and tablets. BigFix combines endpoint security with endpoint management, and is noted for its reliable and quick discovery and patch management capabilities. It also has strong configuration management, software distribution, software compliance and usage tracking and power management capabilities.
LANDesk Management Suite (LDMS) is a comprehensive endpoint management tool that supports Windows, Mac OS X and MDM in mid-level to enterprise environments. With the company's acquisition of Wavelink in 2012 and Shavlik in 2013, LDMS includes solid support for MDM and patch management, and provides support for virtual desktops and software usage monitoring.
Dell KACE is geared more toward small to midsize organizations. It offers integrated PC and mobile management with most of the core features companies should look for, along with support for Chromebooks, network-connected non-computing devices and software license management. Customers can choose from a few different appliances or a software as a service-based option.
Symantec Client Management Suite is another comprehensive endpoint management tool with a laundry list of supported systems, stretching back to Windows XP Service Pack 3 and including Mac OS X and Linux. But MDM support for Android and iOS requires Unified Endpoint Protection Cloud Service, which can be integrated with Client Management Suite.
Because the feature sets of endpoint management software suites differ -- sometimes widely -- administrators should compile a detailed matrix during the evaluation phase that lists details for each product considered. For example, one tool might excel at providing both solid Windows and Mac management but lack built-in patch management for non-Windows clients.
The matrix also helps admins track features they consider value-adds today but that could become critical to operations in the near future. Integration with the existing infrastructure is also a key consideration, especially if the IT budget isn't ready for wholesale replacement of current technologies.
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