The manual maintenance of individual hardware devices in the enterprise is incredibly tricky nowadays, due to high staff numbers and concurrent high usage of laptop, desktop, and mobile devices. This maintenance also extends to less common hardware such as barcode scanners and printer devices, which all need periodic maintenance as well. The result is the warehouse and the office being equally difficult for IT teams to manage.
Integrated IT infrastructure management services, commonly known as Endpoint Management Platforms, are available to help alleviate these maintenance problems. They help to automate the management of all devices on a network, leaving more time for IT teams to focus on what matters. Many infrastructure management companies have taken advantage of the need for this kind of service, including Ivanti, MobileIron, Airwatch, Citrix and others.
How does Endpoint Management Software work?
As mentioned, infrastructure management companies aim to automate the administrative process of introducing and retiring hardware on a network with their software. These infrastructure management services are primarily focused on these three aspects:
Discovery - First, integrated IT infrastructure management services can detect new devices when they are initially connected to a VLAN. This detection is initialized through IP address discovery on the network, but it is maintained over time through the learning of device hardware information such as the manufacturer and serial numbers of the device. Once a device is discovered, it can be further edited in the EMS if needed or left to be automatically managed by the software.
Ongoing Maintenance – The next aspect of infrastructure management services is the ability to manage the hardware on a network automatically. Using devices running Windows, as an example, an EMS can centrally manage the security updates of all hardware devices. This management helps to ensure security compliance, especially with some hardware being used more rarely than others. For some businesses, updates need to be tested before rolling out to all equipment as it can break functionality with some legacy applications. This makes an EMS a good option for managing hardware groups reliant on stability.
Modern Endpoint Management Software tools can also manage more than just the Operating System. Many solutions now offer management of third party software packages, such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Suite. As well as controlling updates on the network, an EMS is also useful in ensuring that all devices are sufficiently licensed. Ensuring proper licensing is a crucial component of any integrated IT infrastructure management plan, as the running of unlicensed software can result in legal action.
Decommission - The final process that IT infrastructure management services assist with is the management of End of Life, or EOL, hardware. This process can be incredibly time-consuming for IT teams, as old equipment needs to be tracked down firstly, and then also needs to be thoroughly wiped to ensure data security.
Thankfully, the enterprise network standard, called Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service, or ‘RADIUS’, can turn your WiFi access points into a helpful location tracker for your network devices. Infrastructure management firms like Cisco Meraki are one of the best examples of this, having comprehensive maps of your office within a dashboard that can easily track down individual hardware devices.
For mobile devices enrolled in Endpoint Management Software, the process of wiping is much simpler regardless of whether the equipment is at the end of life stage, missing in action, or potentially stolen. Mobile-oriented infrastructure management firms, like Citrix with their Endpoint Management Suite, install administrative policies on iOS or Android devices which allow for full control. Thanks to this policy, any enrolled device can be automatically wiped as soon as it connects to the internet, making it a great tool to ensure the security of corporate information.
Further Benefits of Endpoint Management Systems
While an EMS is primarily used to assist with Discovery, Ongoing Maintenance and Decommissioning of hardware, it also has some further benefits that simplify life for IT teams.
Enrolled hardware devices that are compliant with update and software requirements on the network can automatically connect to network locations, using login credentials on the device as an authenticator. This authentication helps to streamline access to network resources for IT teams and users alike, reducing admin and the need to input and remember login details. This level of authentication can be achieved through the use of a virtual private network (VPN) when running virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) software or using the RADIUS enterprise network standard when connected directly to an on-premise corporate VLAN.
An EMS can also streamline device mobility in the enterprise. For networks running the Windows 10 operating system, users can easily switch between workstations thanks to background User Profile Management taking place. This stores all of their critical data, such as documentation and settings, on a remote server which is then downloaded in real time onto the client machine. If each computer’s software is also being actively managed by the EMS, this can result in identical experiences across all your enterprise devices.