Unified Endpoint Management – but why?

A hot trend in enterprise device management these days is around unified endpoint management or UEM: The concept that IT teams should be able to manage EVERY endpoint (desktops, phones, tablets, etc.) from a single, all-encompassing management tool or console. It sounds awesome: “What? I can just have one tool and do everything with it?” I guess, if engineered properly, a UEM solution could be the magic that brings end-user flexibility and productivity and IT control and efficiency without a bunch of hassle into the forefront of your everyday life.

It sounds powerful, efficient, and straight up cool—exactly like what every IT team wants. But before we dive head-first into a single tool to do everything, let’s take a step back.

UEM solutions are sprouting up from companies like Microsoft, IBM, VMware, and Citrix. Some are a mashed-together version of a killer mobile device management (MDM) solution combined with a so-so desktop management suite and maybe a hastily thrown together inventory tool. Or, perhaps the vendor acquired a handful of smaller companies with products that addressed the checklist of items required for a UEM solution and put them all under one umbrella with a shiny logo, even though they don’t function in any sort of cohesive way. Keep in mind, marketing isn’t an honesty contest. Just because the shiny website says a product does something doesn’t mean it does it the way that you’d expect in your very real world.

And where are the companies who are likely on the best path of building this out from scratch and engineering the entire thing with a clear UEM roadmap? Well, they’re moving slowly and running into roadblocks in trying to create something that is both easy and reliable (trust me, we tried this ourselves four years ago and ultimately decided to stop; I’ll have to tell you more about that some other time). It is hard to do, expensive to undertake, and has a long development roadmap to make a viable product that people will use and pay for in order to keep the business running.

What we’re watching are powerhouse software manufacturers racing to the finish line to be the first to deliver an enterprise UEM solution that lives up to the marketing hype. And, I think that one day, someday, we’ll probably get pretty close or maybe all the way there. But we aren’t there yet. Until we are there, I advise sticking with what is practical for each task that you need to perform. Even if that means buying more, highly-specialized tools, rather than one that can do it all, sort of.