As companies continue to grapple with the financial and operational effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many IT administrators have accelerated their adoption of cloud-based solutions. Unlike on-premises workstations and software, cloud applications enable device-agnostic workflows that benefit employees regardless of their location or the hardware they’re using. This flexibility has proven to be a boon for companies that already had some level of cloud integration. However, organizations that still rely on legacy systems and siloed endpointment management strategies may struggle to support remote employees during the lockdown.
With more enterprises adopting the work-from-home model, reliable IT deployment and management tools have become a necessity. According to research from MarketsandMarkets, cloud solutions are helping organizations “create resilient and disaster-averse systems” that both support remote workforces and protect the integrity of sensitive data and business applications. Despite this trend, many IT administrators continue to face significant challenges managing remote workstations, especially those that are owned and operated by employees. The global health crisis has forced many knowledge workers to use their personal devices – desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, etc. – to access corporate networks and data stores. To minimize the risk of security breaches and brute-force attacks, IT professionals will need to maintain complete endpoint visibility and control.
Managing IT risk during COVID-19
Although the COVID-19 outbreak has led to a variety of technological challenges for business across industry lines, one of the biggest pain points has been endpoint security. When organizations allow employees to use personal devices to access internal networks, there is often a higher risk of cyberattacks, both at the device and applications layers. For example, if a user is running an outdated version of Windows OS, hackers may be able to exploit zero-day vulnerabilities to take control of their computer. Alternatively, mismatched software versions can lead to costly business disruptions and weaken a company’s overall IT posture, which is why proactive patch management is crucial. According to research from KPMG International, the top IT risk scenarios related to COVID-19 include:
- Rigid IT strategies and governance practices
- Decreased device security and data privacy
- Sustained availability issues and business interruptions
- Weakened infrastructure and asset management policies
- Rushed IT implementation and endpoint deployment
- Disorganized identity and access management
- Increased burden on in-house IT staff
While some of these issues can be mitigated through careful planning and internal policies, many require more concrete solutions. By integrating a flexible, cloud-based deployment tool, companies can keep track of new endpoints on their network, create rule-based management strategies and maintain a high level of oversight for remote workstations. But how can IT administrators choose the right platform to support their short-term transition to remote work while also providing long-term benefits?
Selecting the perfect deployment tool
The first step to integrating an effective endpoint deployment tool is to assess an organizations’ existing IT infrastructure, hardware, software and cloud-based applications. This process can help ensure that all technology investments are based on a present need, and that new platforms can be used to solve specific problems. After conducting an IT audit, organizations should create a list of features that can be used to guide their decision-making, help select the right products and identify vendors that offer best-in-class solutions. When shopping around for an endpoint deployment tool, IT administrators should prioritize the following capabilities:
- Rapid deployment: In times of crisis, the ability to quickly set up, deploy and manage both Windows and Mac devices is paramount. The longer it takes to add new endpoints to an IT management platform, the higher the risk of business disruptions and cybersecurity incidents. Alongside endpoint deployment, organizations must also ensure they can push out critical OS updates and application patches on demand.
- Cloud-based functionality: COVID-19 has forced millions of companies to quickly transition to a work-from-home model, which makes on-premises deployment tools rather self-defeating. With a centralized, cloud-based management platform, IT administrators can execute important updates remotely and maintain visibility over device and application usage in real time.
- Automated application management: Keeping track of OS versions, application patches and update behavior for a massive fleet of endpoints simply isn’t sustainable. Rather than pushing updates manually, cloud-based deployment tools empower IT administrators to automate a variety of back-end tasks for both individual workstations and user groups. In particular, companies should prioritize patch scanning to quickly detect failed installations and missing updates.
- Scalability: Business needs tend to evolve over time, so it’s important to choose a deployment tool that can grow alongside an organizations’ IT infrastructure, application workflows and user base. Cloud-based solutions help ensure that endpoints and applications can be managed proactively without choking local resources or bandwidth. This level of granular control can also allow IT administrators to initiate, freeze and schedule updates without the need for end-user intervention.
Faronics’ Deploy is a cloud-based IT management platform that offers complete visibility and control over remote workstations, popular business applications and OS versions. Using this deployment tool, companies can actively manage updates for work-from-home employees, whether or not they’re using personal devices. Integrating Deploy can help IT administrators automate time-consuming tasks and ensure all devices with access to corporate networks have the latest patches, reducing the risk of business disruptions and cybersecurity events.