What is endpoint management?

The term “endpoint management” is often heard in the field of IT management, but what is it all about? What is an endpoint, and what are the best practices for managing them? Let’s dive into the concept and explore all this and more.

In basic terms, endpoint management is the process of securing all the endpoints of your organization, such as computers, laptops, tablets, or any other device that connects to a network, such as printers, servers, and point-of-sale devices in retail organizations. Endpoints are the ‘digital gates’ to your valuable data, and the goal of endpoint management is to control and manage these devices effectively, ensuring the IT health and security of the devices and network.

There are many tasks in endpoint management, including software deployment, patch updates, troubleshooting applications on various devices connected to your organization’s network — all these should work smoothly in harmony to ensure effective endpoint management.

Why is endpoint management essential today?

The digital era has drastically transformed the way we work, with remote workstations cropping up everywhere as companies and IT capabilities become more flexible.

Besides the computers, printers, and other digital devices typical in a standard office, every remote device is an ‘endpoint.’ GPS navigation systems, wearables, mobile phones, and all other devices deployed remotely have multiplied at an unprecedented rate, significantly deepening the threat of cyber attacks. This shift to more digital variables in a network demands increased cybersecurity measures, which makes endpoint management more important than ever.

Benefits of implementing endpoint management systems

If endpoint management was once about ‘desktop support’, that is absolutely no longer the case. Endpoint management today must encompass every possible Internet of Things (IoT) device, in an end-to-end solution that addresses complex security challenges across diversified networks. But it’s more than that too. Here’s a brief overview of the benefits of endpoint management for organizational security and efficiency:

  • Cybersecurity: A key benefit of endpoint management is increased protection against potential cyber threats. With an endpoint management strategy in place, IT teams can efficiently track the cybersecurity posture of each device in the network and deploy advanced preventative strategies against malicious attacks.
  • Better compliance: Endpoint management keeps the IT team up to date on each device across the network, helping to ensure that every device is complying with relevant and changing regulatory standards. 
  • Increased productivity: Automated processes can be implemented in an endpoint management strategy, streamlining many of the rote tasks that IT teams handle everyday, and making personnel more productive with their time and skills.
  • Cost effectiveness: A good endpoint management strategy will help to reduce overhead costs associated with manual deployments and maintenance of endpoint devices. By automating some of the tasks, and developing an efficient workflow for manual tasks, the endpoint management process enables IT teams to achieve more with less budget.

Reducing complications in the network while increasing productivity of IT staff — in a nutshell, this is the true goal and benefit of endpoint management done well.

Setting up endpoint management systems

In a complex network like your IT organization, proper and efficient setup of endpoint management for all devices under your network ‘jurisdiction’ is crucial.

Establishing an efficient endpoint management system is a systematic process involving several steps. Once you know the ropes, it doesn’t seem as complicated. The initial setup for endpoint management involves:

  1. Identifying all endpoints within your network.
  2. Cataloging them based on various metrics — device type, OS, location, and more.
  3. Developing a solid endpoint security policy that takes into consideration your organization’s unique requirements and potential risks.
  4. Implementing an endpoint management software that proactively aids with system updates, malicious attack detections, and managing system vulnerabilities.

There is an ongoing ‘dance’ between digital transformation and cybersecurity, and endpoint management is the tool to strike the right balance. Always remember the primary goal: to ensure secure connectivity while providing necessary access for legitimate functionality to end-users. 

Key strategies for endpoint management

Good endpoint management is so much more than just installing the right protective software.  It requires adopting an effective strategy made up of a range of systems, tools, and techniques with the end goal of comprehensive, robust, and layered security. Five key strategies for endpoint management that are worth noting include:

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

Mobile Device Management is a tool that’s used to manage endpoints in an enterprise setting. Sometimes likened to RMM (although it’s actually quite different), MDM provides administrators with the ability to enforce policies, and secure, monitor, and manage devices within their network remotely.

By incorporating MDM into your strategy, you can significantly mitigate potential risks through functions such as remote wiping of data on lost or stolen devices — thereby maintaining the confidentiality of company information.

Unified Endpoint Management (UEM)

Unified Endpoint Management is another strategy in the toolbox that streamlines numerous types of device and task management processes through a single console. This includes not just smartphones and tablets but IoT devices and workstations too.

Employing UEM offers immense benefits such as improved productivity due to efficient operations as well as enhanced system-wide visibility, which optimizes security operations.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

Endpoint Detection and Response is an increasingly popular cybersecurity technology designed to continually monitor networks to detect advanced threats, rapidly respond by taking automated action, analyze incidents thoroughly, and provide protection from future attacks.

The implementation of EDR provides critical early detection capabilities for potential cyber attacks, making it instrumental in mitigating risk and damage caused by data breaches.

Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP)

Endpoint Protection Platforms are designed to secure endpoints from potential hazards by proactively blocking malicious activities. They function via prediction models built on machine learning algorithms that tackle a wide range of threats, including malware, ransomware, and zero-day vulnerabilities.

Including EPP in endpoint management solutions significantly strengthens the organization’s cybersecurity posture, while reducing operational costs associated with managing multiple standalone security products.

Network Access Control (NAC)

Finally, there’s Network Access Control — a proactive strategy that restricts unauthorized devices from accessing your network. NAC works by ensuring every connecting device adheres to the company’s policy before being granted access.

By adopting these five key strategies in your endpoint management systems, you can ensure comprehensive security across the board and stay a step ahead of evolving cyber threats.

Endpoint security and endpoint management: How are they related?

Any discussion about endpoint management will include the concept of endpoint security, a crucial part of any organization’s IT strategy. On the one hand, endpoint management is a more comprehensive practice, providing overall control and carrying out a range of operations on endpoints. At the same time, endpoint security plays an essential role in safeguarding these endpoints from potential threats.

Put simply, while endpoint management aims to ensure that all network devices adhere to particular standards for performance or operation optimization, endpoint security focuses more on defending your network when access points are targeted for cyber intrusion by attackers. 

There are areas where the two intersect. Here is what endpoint management and endpoint security have in common:

  • Policy control: They equally enforce compliance-to-policy rules on every end-user device or equipment.
  • Asset administration: Both collectively manage endpoints by keeping a record of actuality reports and inventory emission.
  • Updates: Both support systematic software updates that play critical roles in endpoint management and security.
  • Regulation over access points: Full jurisdiction over admittance points helps endpoint administrators effectively regulate connected devices for both management and security processes. This also assists in implementing quicker isolation policies during a risk event under endpoint protection.

To say that endpoint management can work without considering endpoint security — or vice versa — is misleading. Cyber safety cannot be guaranteed if endpoints aren’t well managed, and effective management of endpoints requires maximum defense capabilities to prevent unauthorized access and nefarious players from reaching the endpoint or network.

That’s why an integrated approach covering both seamless operational administration and effective security enforcement of endpoints is essential for an advanced enterprise-level endpoint management strategy.

Endpoint Management vs. RMM

When it comes to optimizing the functionality and security of a network, two solutions come into play: Endpoint Management (EM) and Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM). Despite having different purposes, they work hand in hand to facilitate comprehensive network management of an organization’s IT infrastructure.

Endpoint Management deals with managing end-user devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets, and all other devices that connect to your enterprise network. It is mostly focused on provisioning software distribution, patch management, remote troubleshooting services, and executing operating system deployments.

In contrast, Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) encompasses a suite of IT tools loaded onto client workstations and servers. Essentially, RMM focuses on preventive maintenance to minimize potential issues before they become significant problems.

It’s worth noting that while both EM and RMM contribute towards maintaining stable IT ecosystems in businesses of all sizes, their goals differ significantly:

  • Endpoint Management‘s objective is to streamline operations related to endpoint setup and integration into the existing network.
  • RMM’s objective is to provide proactive support measures that help to prevent downtime.

As such, the question whether one should pick EM over RMM or vice versa is not relevant. Instead of choosing between them, organizations should leverage both in a cohesive way. Their combined capabilities can significantly anchor system stability by allowing teams to control device functionalities while proactively identifying risks through ongoing monitoring mechanisms.

For IT professionals, integration of different systems is becoming increasingly important for business growth. Combining endpoint management and RRM is necessary to build robust digital ecosystems that are capable of addressing IT challenges head-on. Now more than ever before — the ideal scenario is not ‘either-or’, but ‘both’.

Endpoint management with Atera

Endpoint management of complex IT ecosystems can be daunting even for seasoned IT professionals. Relying on an efficient endpoint management solution is a must.

As part of its AI-powered IT management platform, Atera provides several functions to simplify and streamline endpoint management processes. These range from remote monitoring to automated patch management and more.

Comprehensive remote monitoring

One aspect of Atera that sets it apart is the extensive remote monitoring capabilities. The software provides real-time insights into multiple device statuses, making it easier to detect and resolve issues promptly. This proactive approach mitigates potential disruptions and strengthens overall network health.

Intelligent automation

Automation significantly enhances productivity by offloading repetitive administrative tasks from the team to technology. With the use of Atera’s smart rule engine, you can schedule preventative maintenance or automated actions based on specific triggers. This not only reduces human error but also allows IT personnel more time to engage with value-adding activities.

Secure patch management

Patch management plays a critical role in maintaining the security posture of your infrastructure. Being one step ahead in identifying vulnerabilities can mean the difference between system integrity and damaging data breaches. Atera’s automated patch deployment function regularly scans for missing patches and deploys them in a timely manner to keep systems updated and secured. For these reasons and more, IT service providers turn to Atera for endpoint management capabilities, and for the full suite of IT management processes. With built-in, AI-powered functionality, the Atera platform makes IT and endpoint management smoother, faster, and more efficient. Start your free trial with Atera and see how you can transform your endpoint management strategy.

Was this helpful?

The IT management platform that just works

Atera is the all-in-one platform built to remove blockers, streamline operations, and give you the tools to deliver results at any scale.