An update to Ivanti's endpoint management software -- Ivanti Unified Endpoint Manager 2020.1 --focuses on bettering the experience of managing remote workers through such features as improved remote control and enhanced BitLocker support.
Alan Braithwaite, Ivanti's senior director of product management, said that although those remote work features are playing an increased role during the lockdown, the company had been working on them prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
"It just turned out very nicely," he said, noting the increased call for such things as cloud storage for software delivery -- a feature in the new update.
Liz Miller, a vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said the update represented a positive expansion to Ivanti's endpoint management and security offerings.
"As more enterprises shift to managing a remote workforce that may remain permanent, IT teams need easy-to-manage, quick-to-interpret-and-alert interfaces to manage an expansive virtual campus of endpoints and devices," she said. "Their solution is making device management -- from discovery to OS update delivery to, almost as important in these times, patch update delivery -- that much easier, and making delivery of these updates and patches unobtrusive to the end user."
Improving management tools
Braithwaite said he saw the update's remote control improvements -- allowing systems administrators to take control of devices -- as improving the day-to-day experience of IT professionals. Ivanti Unified Endpoint Manager (UEM) had previously supported remote control, he said, but required administrators to do so through their company's servers.
"Now, they can do it directly from the cloud," he said.
The update also includes full macOS support for remote control.
Better BitLocker support would make it easier for IT to use the Windows 10 drive-encryption feature, Braithwaite said. Among the enhancements is a means to recover login information remotely.
"What if your end user loses their password? They got sent home, and usually keep their password on a sticky [note] under their desk, in case they forgot it," he said. "That's a real challenge for them to be able to recover that, unless you have technology like we have. We can grab that key information, store it securely and then provide it … no matter where [the users] are."
With cloud storage for software delivery, Braithwaite said, companies could use Azure or AWS to deliver software to their employees, reducing the strain on VPNs. Demand for such a feature, he noted, predated the current explosion of remote work.
"Even before COVID-19, we had more and more requests from our customers, saying 'We have a number of remote workers in the field, and we're trying to move [data] from our data centers up to the cloud,'" he said.
The increasing importance of UEM
Miller said COVID-19 dramatically increased the endpoint footprint that IT departments must manage.
"[The outbreak] sent IT the almost-impossible task of ensuring productivity and uptime across these devices, but also ensuring visibility, control and compliance over an unknown universe," she said. "Ivanti's platform works to bring all of that into view while not disrupting the workflow and productivity of individual users."
Independent analyst Eric Klein said the remote-work shift has underscored the need for management software.
"UEM wasn't something that was an absolute need for companies that had a lot of their workers in-house," he said. "Now that a lot of their workforce is remote, [companies are] going to realize they need to invest in that. There's an opportunity in this market across the board."
According to Miller, IT professionals would benefit from Ivanti UEM's flexibility in automating and managing updates across a variety of devices. BitLocker in particular has been a source of intense frustration for administrators, she said, citing Reddit threads full of frustration about the feature. Help in managing it would be welcomed, she said.
Klein said the update should help IT professionals, as it adds the ability to perform management tasks -- like the remote control of devices -- across multiple platforms.
He questioned whether those features would gain customers for Ivanti, however, as larger competitors like Citrix and VMware also offer such capabilities.
"The messaging and marketing efforts have started to pay dividends for vendors like VMware and Citrix," he said. "I think it's going to be a bit harder for other vendors to get into the space."