Managing mobile devices is more complicated than ever. Employees want to take advantage of their own devices rather than just company-provided computers, tablets and phones in order to access company apps and data while at the workplace and at home. To accommodate this, IT requires solid management tools to oversee and secure both devices and the company data that exists on them.
Use cases for UEM
Today, IT admins have more tool choices than ever to manage mobile devices. Those choices start with legacy client management tools (CMT) like Microsoft's System Center Configuration Management, and include more substantial technologies, such as mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM) and mobile content management (MCM). There is also identity access management (IAM) and endpoint security -- which offer access and authentication management, and antivirus and malware security, respectively. Enterprise mobility management (EMM) combined all these tools into one product, eliminating the need to deploy and keep tabs on multiple tools.
While EMM was a great step forward, this mobility management suite left the PC and laptop clients out of the picture, so admins were still without a single tool to manage the environment. Unified endpoint management (UEM) technology emerged onto the scene with the much-needed ability to unify the desktop client and mobility client management into a single tool. With the prevalence of BYOD, big data, IoT and wearables, UEM tools will become increasingly critical to keeping tabs on all of these endpoints and executing a variety of other tasks.
Benefits of UEM
UEM tools help companies distribute, configure and deploy BYOD devices and software. They also manage the applications, data and content that reside on them.
UEM can be beneficial for varying types of environments -- those that have BYOD policies in place as well as those with strict security policies that, to protect confidential and sensitive data, forbid the use of personal devices. UEM tools are still useful to securely and remotely deploy and manage apps, devices and content for company-owned devices, regardless of whether or not the company permits personal devices.
Buyers should consider their company's stake in IoT devices and wearables when considering a UEM deployment. Can they really keep users from getting email on their Apple Watch? Does the company have IoT devices in production or delivery facilities? UEM can unify all aspects of mobile device management, and it is continuing to adapt as new products emerge. UEM platforms serve as a single product -- and single dashboard -- to perform innumerable functions that can ultimately increase employee productivity and long-term cost savings due to the elimination of excessive platforms.
UEM tools can help configure and deploy all devices -- personal or company-owned -- throughout the network. It can also configure, manage and deploy corporate applications and secure them by cataloging the applications and associated data into controlled groups or compartments. With UEM tools, admins can create and define policies to carry out these very tasks on a granular basis. It also defines policies for Wi-Fi and VPN networks to allow personal devices to securely connect to corporate resources, which includes the use of certificates to verify connections.
Many UEM tools even support policies based on geography, device model, OS and user group, providing a wide range of management options to meet organizational requirements. This feature is especially important for global companies that need separate apps, data and device types for different international locations to accommodate various country regulations. UEM also makes launching new devices and retiring older or irrelevant devices a much easier process because admins can use a remote wipe feature to erase content that is sensitive and confidential in nature. This feature is also applicable for lost or stolen devices.
Editor's note: Using extensive research into unified endpoint management technology, TechTarget editors focused this series of articles on vendors that combine capabilities of EMM and MDM with a considerable market presence. Our research included Gartner, Forrester and TechTarget surveys.
Ease of management
UEM tools provide admins with a singular dashboard with access to all work apps via a corporate catalog along with support for VDI capabilities. The dashboard also allows for real-time visibility of all devices, whether they are on premises, cloud-based or on any OS platform like Windows 10, Unix/Linux, Apple, Android, Chrome or IoT. With a central platform in place, admins can push and enforce OS updates and policies on many different devices and can also manage and track bulk application purchases and licenses for varying devices; these tasks can be a massive headache for IT without a single platform to execute them. Companies can also perform remote troubleshooting to access the device(s) in question and communicate with the users.
Drawbacks of UEM
While the list of benefits is impressive, there are some drawbacks to UEM tools that buyers must consider before they commit to an implementation:
- Legacy equipment will not provide the benefits or manageability of new UEM tools. For instance, UEM is specifically engineered to take advantage of Windows 10 improvements, meaning that Windows 7 devices won't benefit. Companies may also be hesitant to part with their legacy equipment.
- Corporate organization structures may not permit management of all devices from just one department, or one country, and management functions may differ for phones versus laptops as well as for different OS types.
- Cost. Besides investment in the tools themselves, companies must devote resources to the proper training and infrastructure improvements to replace legacy equipment.
The decision of whether to invest in UEM tools and technology should rest on careful analysis of the current issues that inhibit user productivity; the amount of manpower necessary to manage the environment; security concerns, such as control of corporate data on personal mobile devices; and if the organization is prepared to manage the onslaught of new personal and IoT devices that can pose a challenge for any company. Companies may also discover that prohibiting corporate data on personal devices may not be a sustainable policy. Investing in UEM technology will be an investment in time, security and infrastructure support.