All about apples and oranges – unified endpoint management

February 22 2019 Jutta Rahenbrock

You shouldn’t compare apples and oranges. We’re all familiar with this classic that is trotted out happily when product X is compared with product Y. And X comes up short. What has that got to do with unified endpoint management?

I’ve been looking at unified endpoint management (UEM) for the past few weeks. I’ve read everything the analysts have to say and they all agree: We can’t do without unified endpoint management any more. Ovum finds in its Workspace Services Survey that IT managers rank standardizing the management and security of smart devices and classic PCs second on their list of priorities. In its Wave report, Forrester sees UEM as a critical tool to balance employee experience and security. And finally Gartner abandons its magic quadrants for client management tools (CMT) and enterprise mobility management (EMM) and combines both topics in a new quadrant for UEM.

Why unified endpoint management?

UEM is not geared to end users like me. But it’s the end users like me that use at least two (or more) devices for their work on a daily basis, devices that call for the radical switch to UEM. UEM promises three things for those people managing my business devices: Better transparency and overview of the device zoo, greater security for the devices (policies become easy to implement), and cross-device access to data. The bottom line is the management of the increasing complexity of the devices. And that brings us to apples and oranges.

Two independent evolution paths

Everyone will be familiar with the classic PC and its mobile descendant, the notebook. The client management (CMT) tools have developed over decades. Apples. Then over ten years ago the mobile revolution hit: Smartphones replaced mobile phones and began to conquer the work environment. Willingly and unwillingly. Forward-looking enterprises also decided to manage these mobile devices professionally. To do so they rolled out enterprise mobility management (EMM), for instance. Oranges. Both domains have taken different development paths, whereby EMM received the “blessing of being born later.” More sophisticated technology know-how provides for simpler management in many ways.

Help! More devices, greater complexity

More devices, more management platforms. Has a bit of second screen or even second team about it for those managing the devices behind the scenes. And that’s just the start. Wearables for virtual reality/augmented reality or the world of IoT with its sensors and actuators, are the latest generation of devices forcing their way into enterprises. So it’s onto the third screen or third team. The wealth of devices can make management incredibly complex.

Unified endpoint management – simplification approach

Are you familiar with the apple boxes with these inserts into which the standardized EU apples fit so perfectly? That is professional apple (client) management perfected over decades. Minimization of bruising, optimum box capacity utilization, superior presentation and storage methodology. Now let’s imagine they wanted to transport oranges using the same inserts. They would happily get stuck in the boxes. Two different management systems. Not so easy to standardize.

That is the aspiration of UEM. Both domains are merged. Management of classic devices and mobile devices from a single source. Ideally preconceived for the universal use for new-generation devices too.

Moving away from the device to the user

First those user companies who today mainly depend on mobile or specialized devices and corresponding operating systems such as Mac OS or Chrome OS will (be able to) switch to UEM. A second group of these companies, which are already getting off the ground, are those that have replaced their legacy systems. The others – and that is likely to be by far most enterprises – face a genuine challenge with their legacy systems. How to deal with group policies for instance, what should happen with the established client management processes?

The UEM turning point is no more and no less than a radical rethink along the lines of digitalization: Where devices stood center stage for decades, the focus is now shifting to the user. UEM promotes and demands customer-centric approaches that put cross-device working center stage. And that could ultimately lead to a better user experience. Apples and oranges from the same pot if you like. Compote. Could taste good.

About the author

Jutta Rahenbrock

Manager Product Marketing, T-Systems International

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