IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

New Unified Endpoint Management Solutions

The elusive goal of managing PCs and mobile devices with one solution is finally becoming a reality. By James E. Gaskin

Everyone wants to manage more devices through fewer consoles, and unified endpoint management is a major step in that direction. The goal is clear, says Gartner Inc. Research Vice President Terrence Cosgrove: “UEM is a management solution that allows an IT organization to manage all end-user devices, including PCs, smartphones, and tablets.”

Cosgrove believes UEM technology is entering the second of three waves. The first wave, where most companies are, uses separate tools to manage PCs and mobile devices. Years from now, the third wave will use a single management platform for both PCs and mobile devices, but manage the PCs using mobile-type APIs. Here in the second wave, some vendors provide a single management console but use two different workflows to manage their devices. About 15 percent of end-user companies are testing or using these tools now.

South Jordan, Utah-based LANDESK Software, one of the companies Cosgrove says is leading the second wave (along with Microsoft, IBM, Citrix, and Matrix 42), rolled its mobile device management offering into version 10 of the company’s LANDESK Management Suite. “Not having separate point tools is great for our MSPs,” says Alan Braithwaite, LANDESK’s director of product marketing. “We're getting tremendous traction from our partners.”

“While vendors like AirWatch, MobileIron, and Citrix are now extending their mobile device management skills up to the PC client, we started adding mobile management modules to our software four or five years ago,” continues Braithwaite. “For every standard client LANDESK license, you get two mobile device licenses.” Several customers are rolling out the updated software now.

Looking Down the Road
Jack E. Gold, president and principal analyst at Northborough, Mass.-based J. Gold Associates LLC, looks further down the road. “If you're a company, you really want to have a uniform way to manage all clients—PCs to phones to smart watches. And be ready for the Internet of Things, and manage maybe down to cars and refrigerators.” He says that to end users UEM is a desire, and to vendors an aspiration.

According to Gold’s research, three quarters of the device management market will be in the cloud in the next two or three years. But it won’t be a six-month transition, says Gold. It will take years to change all the support infrastructure and legacy systems companies rely on today.

Management companies are aiming marketing at resellers. Mobile device management vendors such as AirWatch and MobileIron are touting their absorption of PC management tools, just as LANDESK and other PC client-oriented vendors claim increasing enterprise mobile management expertise. As Gold says, "People want a single view from their management tools." And industry consolidation will continue as companies acquire what they need to move forward.

Tools Maturing Quickly
Gartner's Cosgrove believes UEM tools are maturing quickly. “Two years ago, we had no real offering, and now we have four, maybe five solid choices. We have about 15 percent market penetration now, and I expect 30 percent of customers will be using UEM in two more years.”

But the “third wave” of UEM will take longer. “There's a sea change happening,” says Cosgrove. “The Windows OS uses an open file system and requires a certain type of management. Mobile devices use a sandbox architecture that is more secure and is managed through APIs provided by the operating system.” Rolling out patches and updates to PCs and mobile devices are drastically different workflows. “There are still some rough spots, but the change will make for an easier support model as it matures.”

For the most part, critical endpoint devices like bank ATMs and healthcare equipment, part of the IoT world of devices, are managed with MDM-type tools already. So get ready: by 2020, customers will just ask for “management” and assume complete UEM capabilities are part of the package.

About the Author

JAMES E. GASKIN is a ChannelPro contributing editor and former reseller based in Dallas.