As companies continue to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are questioning whether a permanent shift to remote work environments may be the best course of action. Provisional work-from-home strategies, which were only supposed to last for a few months, have been stretched to their limits. Temporary workarounds are starting to give way to more lasting solutions, and cloud-based applications are helping to streamline the transition.
Cloud computing enables anytime, anywhere access to key data stores and business applications, making it the go-to solution for distributed teams. This functionality not only eliminates the need for dedicated hardware and software, it also empowers employees to complete work on their personal devices. According to research from Gartner, roughly 28% of spending in enterprise IT markets will shift to the cloud by 2022, driven in large part by the appeal of on-demand resourcing and pay-as-you-go pricing. But as companies integrate more cloud solutions, they must simultaneously expand their management capabilities to prevent costly security breaches and performance issues.
Remote IT management
Cloud-based business applications and data storage allow organizations to reduce their IT-related costs by replacing fixed computing resources with scalable alternatives. Rather than acquiring, building and maintaining on-site data centers, companies entrust their information to a managed partner with decades of experience and infrastructural investment. In terms of individual workstations, cloud apps offer device-agnostic workflows that can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection, provided they have the appropriate permissions. As a result, companies spend less time and money troubleshooting physical laptops, managing software licenses and installing new programs on each device in their network.
While IT teams’ workloads can be simplified with the integration of cloud-based solutions, companies still need to closely monitor device usage and performance. This is one area where switching to the cloud introduces new management and security challenges. Without direct visibility and control over distributed endpoints, whether owned by the company or end users, organizations can unknowingly expand their attack surface. For example, research conducted by Malwarebytes in August 2020 found that 20% of companies experienced a security breach directly caused by a remote worker since the start of the pandemic. Some of these breaches were linked to phishing scams, while others were a direct result of unpatched software vulnerabilities.
Given that remote work appears to be the new normal, companies must enhance their IT management capabilities and cybersecurity practices in ways that minimize risk and maximize efficiency. Housing network and device management applications on dedicated, in-office workstations significantly impacts IT administrators’ ability to respond to security breaches and perform day-to-day management tasks. Much like the cloud apps themselves, IT management processes must be transitioned to a cloud framework, where authorized users can make necessary changes from the comfort of their homes.
Top IT management tools for securing remote computers
Remote devices pose a unique challenge from a management standpoint, especially if users rely on their own personal computers. Without a centralized platform that has direct oversight of employee-owned devices, companies will struggle to keep operating systems and software patched, ward of malware and protect against brute-force attacks. Traditional management strategies would have IT staff checking for updates and security risks manually, one device at a time. The same is true for minor computer problems: If a user is unable to resolve a disruptive IT issue, they may need to send their loaned laptop in for repairs or ask for a complete replacement. The resulting downtime can be a source of productivity issues, scheduling delays and missed business opportunities.
To ensure remote computers are updated, secure and performing reliably, organizations should integrate IT management solutions that utilize a cloud-based framework and offer self-service features. Here are two leading solutions from Faronics that can help manage computers remotely:
- Deploy: Faronics’ Deploy application streamlines the rollout and long-term management of office computers, allowing IT administrators to proactively control OS updates, software patches and even security settings. From one centralized console, IT teams can check the current state of every in-network device, send batch or individual updates and even monitor asset usage in real time. This solution works without any end user intervention, meaning there’s less risk of configuration drift and vulnerabilities caused by negligent update habits.
- Deep Freeze: As a leading reboot-to-restore platform, Faronics’ Deep Freeze Cloud turns computers into indestructible workstations. By freezing computers in an ideal state, end users are able to revert unwanted changes, updates and malware with a simple restart of their devices. This can not only reduce the frequency of low-priority computer issues, it can also empower users to solve their own problems without any downtime or previous IT expertise. What’s more, Deep Freeze’s cloud-based architecture ensures IT administrators can manage in-network devices from anywhere, whether in the office or working from home.