There are hundreds of different management solutions available today – at least 2 or 3 for every possible management scenario. Whether your business is large or small, running on-prem or in the cloud, using PC’s and/or mobile devices – there is a management tool available for every need.
On the surface, this variety of options seems to manifest something very positive, i.e. power of choice for IT organizations looking to make the best possible purchase for their infrastructure needs. The reality, however, is that this diversity of uses can cause infrastructure fragmentation and duplication of efforts.
Watching the industry move in this direction has been one of the most interesting changes I have seen during my career. Going back a little into my history, I was the Program Manager responsible for the NetWare Clients that ran on Windows 95 and Windows NT for Novell in the mid-90’s. In 1996, while we were doing customer research on the next version of the client (how many of you remember things like IPX packet burst?), we came up with the idea of a desktop management solution that was based on Novell’s Directory – something we called ZENworks. I was the original Program Manager on ZENworks and for a number of years, and I led the ZENworks division at Novell before coming to Microsoft in 2003.
In those early days, desktop management was pretty easy. IT tightly controlled the desktop with some self-service capabilities for end-users to self-provision applications, and there were no big surprises after that. Today, however, desktop/PC/device management comes in many different flavors. I’ve found that the type of management applied to a device really depends on things like the function of the device, the culture of the organization, the manageability interfaces exposed by the device/OS, and the ownership of the device (corporate vs. personal).
Let me give some examples of what I mean:
There are scenarios where a Windows PC is doing a task-specific function such as managing a massive assembly line or running the digital signs and cash registers in a retail setting. In these kinds of usage scenarios, these devices are very tightly managed and controlled by IT. On the other side of the spectrum are the use cases where users are bringing in their personal smartphone or tablet. In both of these scenarios IT needs to apply policy to ensure the corporate data on these devices is secure and protected – but the level of control is much different (and less invasive) with a user’s personal device.
One trend we’re seeing regularly is organizations with a light-touch management approach to even the corporate PCs they are purchasing. There are over 12,000 unique organizations today using Intune for PC management, and the PC management they’re doing from the cloud is much more akin to MDM-like management than the hard-core PC management that organizations have been doing with SCCM for decades.
When you consider all the management options IT organizations have today, the fragmentation I mentioned earlier becomes a serious problem. In every case, the burden of this fragmentation falls disproportionately on IT Pros. Instead of struggling in vain to unify the management of their infrastructure with a collection of fragmented, non-interoperable tools and services, what the IT community really needs is a single, cohesive management system. Instead of trying to piece together an infrastructure management solution, the IT community deserves a Managed Everything approach to enterprise IT.
I’ve touched on this point a number of times, but I don’t think I can overemphasize it. Too many IT teams are saddled with one set of tools for PC management, another set for device management, yet another for server-based computing scenarios, and then something else for identity management. As common as this is, I’ve yet to hear a compelling reason for doing it. This approach makes a lack of integration/interoperability and compromised agility a foundational part of your infrastructure, and it guarantees a fragmented experience that is more expensive and more difficult to operate. You should aggressively press your management technology partner to deliver a solution that addresses all these different kinds of management needs. You should demand a way to Manage Everything.
I look at the Managed Everything model like this:
In each of the scenarios I noted earlier, you need a management solution to account for all of the connectable objects in your infrastructure. For those of us looking ahead to a world where we operate within an Internet of Things, a rock-solid and extensible device/object management strategy is the very first order of business. No matter what the scenario or usage is, even the simplest workplace function can draw upon multiple tablets, PCs, servers, and smartphones – all at once. The simplest solution to manage all of this isn’t a lot of small solutions – it’s a comprehensive, cohesive, time-tested Managed Everything approach that leverages integrated EMS functionalities like SCCM, Intune, AD, AAD, Azure, and Office 365.
There’s nothing else in the market that’s comparable to this Managed Everything model, and, in the next two posts, I’ll discuss in detail how this model can be applied to both large and small organizations.