Your enterprise network: On-premise, cloud-based, and the transition in between

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Endpoint security has always been a challenge for the enterprise. Companies routinely struggle to quickly, easily, and effectively push critical content and updates to every system within their enterprise. Despite all of the advances in endpoint security, software distribution often remains a painful task, particularly as the majority of businesses still rely on a client-server infrastructure to handle the task.

Their on-premise solutions come with significant hard costs. To handle the constant barrage of updates and security fixes, organisations place servers everywhere to stage content, which then requires on-site server maintenance. So, in addition to the cost of the servers, they need to pay staff to tend to them and purchase costly amounts of bandwidth and storage.

The proliferation of mobile devices certainly hasn’t made things any easier for IT teams. Mobile requires a different way of operating and handling even the most basic security fixes. But, it’s a regular part of business that cannot be ignored. The last thing IT needs is for an employee’s mobile device to wreak havoc on the company’s network.

This is why the idea of modern endpoint management is so appealing. Enterprises deluged with content and application updates are desperate for a single, unified tool that efficiently controls every endpoint—be it someone’s desktop machine, laptop, or mobile device. Companies are beginning to experiment with the idea of moving all of their applications to the cloud to reduce costs and increase the ease of managing and updating endpoints. Unfortunately, the industry is not quite there yet. The general consensus is that the transition of workloads from traditional premise-based client management tools like Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager to full modern cloud-based management solutions will, at best, take years to complete, as this transition is no small undertaking.

Microsoft’s co-management solution for Configuration Manager has begun to emerge as a popular transitionary solution to enable companies to begin moving toward the future. Co-management is essentially all about the workload. It enables the different workloads on both machines and devices, handled either by traditional premise-based life cycle management or by a cloud-based modern device management solution, like Microsoft’s Intune or VMware’s AirWatch, to work simultaneously based upon set policies.

With Microsoft throwing its support behind co-management, enterprises gain some confidence that eventually migrating to full cloud-based environments will become a real possibility. Co-management offers a bridge for the interim, and how a company develops and executes its transition strategy is absolutely critical.

Distribution model is key

When thinking about securing endpoints and properly managing workloads, both now and in future environments, it’s important to first consider how content and updates are delivered across all endpoints. The reason the delivery mechanism should be a factor is because it underlies every decision a company makes in deploying content and making the necessary subsequent security updates—on-premise, in the cloud, or somewhere in between.

Because traditional software distribution models often have the potential to impact network performance and day-to-day business functions, updates and content tend to be pushed at night or over the weekend when they won’t have such a negative impact on systems or employees. This leads to short windows of time to get necessary content distributed and prolongs the time frames to get essential software deployed across the whole enterprise. But, just as endpoint management is changing, so is the method of distribution. In an era of very real cyberthreats, enterprises can’t wait days or weeks for patches and updates to reach every endpoint anymore. They need speed, scale, and the assurance of reliable delivery with every piece of content. This is why peer-to-peer content distribution models have gained such popularity.

Peer-to-peer has evolved profoundly in recent years and has proven to be the best model to assist enterprises in securing every endpoint. Content and updates can be fully automated and immediately, intelligently delivered to every endpoint that requires them as workloads are shifted accordingly. This is done at scale with no detrimental effect on the network or end-user device. Even when a company begins to move its applications to the cloud, and as co-management becomes more commonly utilised, IT still needs an efficient and cost-effective way to get enterprise-size content to every relevant device and machine.

Enterprises that have already adopted an intelligent peer-to-peer content distribution solution are in prime position to move forward with the transition to modern, less infrastructure-intensive endpoint management.

3 keys for modern management

Regardless of where companies are in the process of migrating to modern management, they should consider embracing and utilising automated software and content delivery solutions that fulfil three main requirements. Solutions should be:

Platform agnostic: Companies need to seek solutions that leverage technologies that work across the continuum, from traditional PC lifecycle management to cloud-based modern management. The solutions should be capable of delivering content regardless of whether a company uses platforms from Microsoft, VMware, etc. or any combination thereof and without requiring a replacement of existing technologies or adding additional agents to the endpoints.

Cloud-enabled: Content won’t come solely from multiple premises-based servers in the future. Enterprises should have the option to completely eliminate costly infrastructure by moving to the cloud or embracing a hybrid approach between cloud and on-premises solutions. A modern management approach should be able to reduce infrastructure requirements to the fewest servers required—if not eliminate them altogether—and work with any cloud provider and content delivery network.

Co-management capable: Any enterprise software delivery mechanism should make it possible to work with a single agent that is intelligent enough to deliver updates and applications from either on-premises or the cloud at the same time. Additionally, any solution should support various device types so that they can function effectively both now and in the future.

With this approach, companies have the flexibility to make the transition from what works for them today to add more cloud and modern management features over time.

While endpoint management in the enterprise is evolving, it’s never as fast or easy as teams envision it. Changes that involve security are particularly complex and require painstaking attention to ensure that no vulnerabilities are exposed. Co-management offers a way for companies to transition on their own timetables without compromising security. Enterprises just need to make sure that as they develop modern environments, the delivery mechanism is flexible enough to meet their needs.

Jim Souders, CEO, Adaptiva
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