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Unifying desktop and mobile management: Understanding your options

  • Lanier Norville By

How AirWatch EMM and SCCM help organizations unify endpoint management

Unified endpoint management has become a buzzword for enterprise IT this fall. At the Gartner Symposium/ITXpo earlier this month, AirWatch SVP and GM John Marshall observed that in order to embrace the research firm’s No. 1 strategic technology trend for 2015, “computing everywhere,” enterprises should think of all connected devices – whether traditional PCs, mobile devices or wearables – simply as endpoints to manage.

To enable a broad computing environment, in which users can securely connect to enterprise resources regardless of their endpoint, IT will need device-agnostic solutions that offer a single pane of glass through which to manage and secure connected devices.

Major industry players are well aware of the trend. Last year, Microsoft began releasing some significant updates to its System Center Console Manager (SCCM), the traditional endpoint provisioning software which enterprise IT has been using for more than a decade. Microsoft has since added basic iOS and Android management functionality to SCCM’s cloud counterpart Intune, and integrated the two systems’ consoles.

In 2012, AirWatch 6.1 introduced an integration with SCCM 2007. The integration provided a bridge for companies whose IT organizations had yet to establish a separate mobility strategy with its own administrators. With the integration, an IT administrator could see their entire AirWatch deployment from the SCCM console, making it easier for a single administrator to keep an eye on both PCs and mobile devices. As mobile deployments grew, many organizations separated mobility and traditional endpoint management as distinct tasks.

Still, AirWatch has continued to support SCCM as Microsoft has introduced new features. AirWatch extended support for SCCM 2012 R2 in the current AirWatch 7.3 release, allowing SCCM administrators to view the AirWatch dashboard on SCCM, obtain devices associated to a particular user from AirWatch, and issue MDM commands to AirWatch-enrolled devices (for details, download the documentation in myAirWatch).

Today, as enterprise mobility management shifts away from the device and toward securing data at the endpoint, organizations are reconsidering the viability of maintaining separate management strategies for mobile devices and traditional endpoints. Organizations are beginning to think about how to use SCCM and other desktop management solutions as part of their overall endpoint management strategy.

AirWatch recently rolled out significant enhancements to our Mac and PC management solutions to help organizations prepare for a future of unified endpoint management. With AirWatch, administrators can now configure Mac and Windows devices over the air, without requiring them to be joined to a domain, and manage them right alongside smartphones and tablets.

In some enterprises, mobile devices will far outnumber PCs, with most users today carrying multiple mobile devices – a corporate-issued smartphone, tablet and a number of personal devices. Those enterprises will more than likely choose EMM as their unified endpoint management solution, securing and managing all devices within a mobile paradigm. More traditional organizations may choose to continue using SCCM to manage desktops and laptops, and achieve unified management through the AirWatch integration.

Microsoft and others have also ensured their desktop operating systems will meet the diverse needs of enterprise mobility management in the mobile-cloud era. In Windows 8.1, Microsoft opened PCs to greater management through MDM. Apple began aligning management profiles in Mac and iOS software more than two years ago to allow Mac management with MDM. Managing PCs and Macs like mobile devices means they can be configured over the air, without ever having to be domain-joined. That’s a major plus for global organizations, remote workers and companies who use contractors or freelancers.

Whichever approach organizations take, the benefits of a management solution that covers the full array of endpoints are clear: unifying parallel device environments provides a single console for distributing content and apps, tracking assets, and ensuring security and compliance are maintained across the organization.

Lanier Norville

Lanier Norville

Lanier Norville has been writing and editing for online publications for six years. Before joining AirWatch, she was the editor of three medical technology magazines including the award-winning publication TechNation.

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