Blogger Brian Madden posed an interesting question about whether or not it is time to merge desktop and mobile app management in a recent article. The answer is a resounding yes! Even with mobile device growth cutting in, PCs will remain the powerhouse productivity device for the enterprise, which requires management of numerous versions of legacy OS and hardware.

As IT teams pilot and deploy mobility management solutions, they’re realizing that the use of separate endpoint management tools is counterproductive to their organization. So, what can be done to ensure better evaluation of endpoint management tools that will improve productivity in the future while easing IT headaches?

Here are some compelling parameters to use when evaluating endpoint management solutions that will achieve this unification for your organization:

1. Total cost of ownership / affordability

The explosive growth of smartphones and tablets shouldn’t result in increased cost for IT! Total cost of ownership and affordability go beyond just tool licensing or monthly run rate, and include costs incurred over time in infrastructure, management, resources, people, training, and so on. Having a 360-degree view on costs over the longer run is a critical attribute in this evaluation.

2. Simplicity of implementation, ownership and usage

The point solutions themselves might emphasize simplicity in their packaging, running, user experience and more. But when you consider endpoint management in its entirety, you have to assess additional complexity and burden caused due to things such as: maintaining different solutions from different vendors, performing repetitive tasks, generating separate reports and dashboards, building separate skillsets through training, and acquiring and managing additional infrastructure. A unified tool brings in simplicity, not only in its interface and usage, but also throughout the deployment across your organization.

3. Whole product attributes

As solutions undergo evaluation in many enterprises, emphasis is put on the features, functionalities and tangible tools like process automation, workflows, etc. However, organizations should also take a stronger look at whole product attributes such as robustness, performance, usability, scalability, availability and support. These whole product attributes can significantly impact the overall success of your endpoint management implementation by providing a solution that scales with your organization’s endpoints, improves administrative productivity, increases efficiency – or more simply put, works robustly through multiple, different stress situations that are thrown at it.

4. Ability to integrate with other tools for long-term durability

An endpoint management tool rarely works in a silo. It needs to integrate well with other complementary tools, like asset management tools, license management tools, patch acquisition tools, vulnerability and compliance standards, and even fundamental services such as directory services or authentication. Newer tools that typically start off as a point solution tend to have a longer cycle when it comes to having such integrations, but any reasonably well-equipped IT team will run into such issues – and they are better addressed earlier during evaluation than later.

5. Compliance, security and desired state management capabilities

Compliance and security considerations are top of mind for every IT head. The ability to have a smoothly running operation where every endpoint’s desired state is well managed and compliant is an invaluable competency that every IT team would love to develop and maintain. This goes beyond implementing security features piecemeal and into more dynamic capabilities such as automation, reporting, remediation, alerts, and notifications that form the glue that binds things together into a watertight system. When evaluating solutions, whether point solutions or an all-in-one solution, consider this as a top priority investment and competency that is worth developing over time.

6. Breadth and comprehensiveness of feature support

Evaluation of feature completeness is something that every IT team does well, especially along a dimension that is “deep” into functionality coverage. Detailed feature lists are drawn up, often even without a link to the use case scenarios. IT teams spend copious amounts of time understanding the limits of supported features and every corner case handled. Should they need something in the future, they don’t want to be caught without an out-of-the-box feature that should be readily available! The truth oftentimes is that the 80:20 rule kicks in and there is progressively lesser marginal utility to having additional capabilities, especially considering the costs involved in acquiring them. In many cases, even workarounds can work like a charm!

Perhaps a better utilization of time and resources is to evaluate and understand the comprehensiveness of the tool. Completeness and depth of functionality could as well be a mirage, but the breadth of functionality coverage has a much better chance to provide you with future proofing. Examples of capabilities along the breadth dimension include vendor’s support and vision for newer types of platforms and devices, flexible and modular architecture that other capabilities can integrate into in the future, and vendor’s past record of capability expansion along the scope of the product with addition of newer capabilities (which may even cross into newer product line territory, at times). This subtle difference in depth versus breadth – or completeness versus comprehensiveness of functionality – can act as a lifeline in the future that will help you expand into newer bases rather than being stuck in too deep with one dimensional capability.

Using these six considerations as a guiding post, you poise your organization to adopt a future-proofed endpoint management approach that will allow you to successfully adapt and scale to the expanding and diversifying endpoint universe.

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