IT Asset Management Best Practices - Managing Remote IT Assets
In 2017 Forbes Magazine ran an article entitled “Benefits of Telecommuting for The Future of Work”
In the article the author notes that “No longer is remote work about working on a beach, it's a complete design in how we approach the way we work.”
In 2017 no one had any idea of how widespread telecommuting (or in today's jargon Work-From-Home or WFH) would become. Due to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic,
entire workforces have been displaced, and some companies are re-assessing where and how their employees will go to work. Already Facebook and Twitter chiefs
have told their employees that they can opt not to return to the office
This is great news for those employees with long commutes or who want more flexible work hours, but what does it mean for IT departments that need to support those remote workers?
The IT Realities of Work-From Home and how can best practices help?
According to the publication CIO Dive:
Stay-at-home orders caught nearly three quarters of IT decision makers underprepared to handle a companywide change to remote work
More than half of leaders report they are prioritizing tech spending on remote technology resources
The top three areas for increased IT spending are cloud-based software, remote IT support and collaboration software.
Managing Remote IT Assets
One key component of a successful transformation to remote work is having the tools needed to manage the employees’ remote devices. As Forbes reported in
about remote workers, when computing devices are placed beyond corporate firewalls to perform essential business operations, all visibility into what those devices are doing,
if they are connected and how they are configured, is gone.
This is further supported by other IT leaders noting that the IT team has control over all the technology
that the employees use in a corporate environment, but not when a majority of staff members are working from home.
Some employees may have to rely on personal desktops at home that might not be compatible with company systems.
Others may face performance issues on their home internet services and others may not have access to home Wi-Fi at all.
(see here for more details)
Remote Device Management Best Practices
IT asset management (ITAM) solutions are the best way to ensure that end-user devices are compliant with corporate standards,
connected to the network and configured for business purposes.
A capable ITAM system will discover any device on the network,
inventory the hardware configuration and installed and cloud-based software report on each device.
Best practices and key features for an ITAM solution used to manage remote device include:
Agentless operation (installing agents on unknown remote devices is unworkable)
Discovery of any device that connects to the network including Microsoft desktops, laptops, Apple computers and mobile devices and Android devices
Discovery of attached peripherals and reporting any known vulnerable hardware
Discovery of VPN software and reporting configurations where it is absent
Identifying and reporting of discovered vulnerabilities (e.g. obsolete software, unpatched software, known vulnerable hardware components)
Identifying and reporting of non-compliant or non-compatible configurations (e.g. insufficient memory or disk space, prohibited software)
Enabling users to design reports on any set of fields on an on-demand basis
The ability to be configured to meet the specific needs of the organizations
Companies pursuing a best practices ITAM solution should consider toolsets that are easily and quickly deployed. With the rapid shift to WFH,
short installation timeframes and rapid time-to-value (the time between the start of the installation and the first usable data) are crucial.
In this environment cloud-based solution fit the best practices model, as opposed to traditional enterprise ITAM solutions, may be better suited to today’s needs.
Rapid reporting is also critical. Companies with remote workers need to identify potential problems as soon as possible. In that light, dynamic, user defined reports are an absolute necessity.
Use secure VPN technology where performance is acceptable
Ensure your inventory tool is suitable for discovering remote devices
Inventory all devices at homes and in the cloud which are used for non VPN work
Ensure the connection and devices meet minimum specifications to run required applications
Ensure the devices are secure, encrypted, and yet can be accessed by your service desk
Software license compliance must still be achieved, as well as other SAM best practices
Track corporate data stored on employee/offsite devices
Track device reliability and performance to address productivity impacts
Employees may take corporate devices home, the business may purchase new kit for remote working,
or employees may use their own equipment - all these cases require the implementation of
best practices to ensure efficiency, compliance and security.
Now is the Time to Act
Due to the current crisis, firms worldwide are embarking on a new organizational blueprint.
With WFH potentially becoming the norm in many companies, IT departments will need to adapt and tool up for the future.
Adopting solutions that enable the implementation of ITAM best practices is an excellent first step to
successfully managing remote devices used in a WFH environment.
A few companies, like xAssets, have been operating with these best practice
capabilities for 20 years addressing all key points listed above.