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How to navigate a sea of UEM vendors

The UEM market is relatively new and, therefore, confusing to navigate. But, with an analysis of what's out there, IT can begin to understand which product is the best fit.

Unified endpoint management enables IT to manage all device platforms and functions with a single tool. But to take advantage of unified endpoint management, IT must first navigate a fairly nascent market.

The success of UEM is largely due to advances in Windows 10 mobile device management (MDM) APIs that were not available in Windows 8.1 and before. In addition to Windows devices, UEM supports Apple macOS and iOS 11, Google Chrome OS and BlackBerry.

Understand the UEM market

As UEM vendors scramble to advance their tools to meet demand, admins must find the best fit for their organizations. Since UEM platforms are fairly new, one of the best ways to understand the market is to look at Gartner's Magic Quadrant for UEM Tools. Here are the leaders of the UEM category:

  • VMware: VMware is a solid player in this market, with a rich product history in enterprise mobility management (EMM). The AirWatch UEM product is part of its Workspace One platform, which IT admins can use to manage a desktop environment.
  • Microsoft: Microsoft Intune is a part of Microsoft's Enterprise Mobility + Security suite, which also includes advanced Azure Active Directory capabilities and the full Microsoft Cloud App Security component.
  • IBM: The MaaS360 product has progressed through all EMM technologies, so it has a rich history. It's particularly easy for IBM customers to take advantage of MaaS360. MaaS360 is part of Watson and offers a 30-day free trial.
  • MobileIron: MobileIron has a solid reputation and history. Its UEM product is OS- and device-agnostic, which gives IT pros the option to choose whichever devices work best for their organizations.
  • BlackBerry: BlackBerry's Unified Endpoint Manager is part of the BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suite. It enables IT to manage iOS, macOS, Android, Windows 10, BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry OS devices.

There are a variety of other UEM vendors to consider as well, including Sophos, Citrix, SOTI, 42Gears, Ivanti and ManageEngine.

The evolution of the UEM market

The UEM market has evolved from a variety of other tools in recent years.

  • Client management tools (CMT): These are legacy PC lifecycle management tools that IT used in the days of Windows 7 and before. They include products such as Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. IT needed several tools to satisfy all client management needs.
  • Mobile device management (MDM): MDM focused on enforcing policies on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. MDM was originally developed to secure devices in a BYOD environment and has expanded to include client computers and IoT devices.
  • Enterprise mobility management (EMM): EMM has all the features of MDM but added functionalities such as mobile application management and mobile content management. It aims to support end users with a variety of devices, while reducing risk to organizations with security compliance.
  • Unified endpoint management (UEM): UEM unifies device management not only for mobile devices and desktops, but for other endpoints such as printers and IoT devices.

How to choose a UEM tool

When selecting a UEM product, IT should define the requirements and answer crucial questions, such as:

  • Which devices does the UEM tool need to manage?
  • What are the devices' product types, OSes and criticality to the organization?
  • Which devices will the organization add in the near future that the UEM tool will need to manage?
  • What experience does this UEM vendor have with MDM and EMM technology? Are its products mature and reliable?

Most products offer a free trial. IT pros should narrow the choices down to two or three -- or however many they have time to evaluate -- and evaluate them.

A UEM tool can provide the ability to manage a diverse set of clients and endpoints and relieve a lot of headaches. Cost is important, but IT should perform a good ROI analysis to persuade the organization to invest in a high-quality product.

This was last published in April 2019

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