It’s a New Year and thoughts have now moved to planning for your next IT update.
So, what is on your to-do list?
Your priority could be to improve your IT security and better manage your endpoint devices. You want to optimise your application usage to reduce costs or improve IT services for employees who are working from home. Or perhaps you want to roll out a new application to all your users, to help increase employee productivity and improve services for customers. Whichever is most important to you and your organisation, migrating to Microsoft co-management could help you achieve them and many more goals.
What is Microsoft co-management?
Most medium and large organisations currently use Microsoft Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) to a greater or lesser extent to help them manage all the endpoint devices – desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobiles – used by their employees. Microsoft co-management is a solution that allows organisations to connect their existing on-premise Configuration Manager deployments to Microsoft 365 and unlock new functionality that is available in Microsoft’s cloud-based device management solution, Microsoft Intune.
Diagram from: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/security/business/microsoft-endpoint-manager
Co-management is often presented as a ‘bridge,’ a helpful half-way staging post in the journey from on-premise device management to cloud-based device management. However, organisations really do not have to be committed to making the entire journey to Microsoft Intune. As Microsoft veteran Brad Anderson tweeted, “co-management can *absolutely* be your permanent destination.”
Co-management has been around as a Microsoft solution for over four years, which in today’s world makes it a mature technology. While you may not have come across it, or may have dismissed it in the past, co-management is now more relevant than it has ever been due to the dramatic increase in working from home and hybrid working that has occurred since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most Configuration Manager deployments can cope with a small number of remote workers, but for medium- to large-sized organisations with growing numbers of hybrid workers, it is simply no longer sustainable.
Why should you adopt Microsoft co-management?
If you are currently using Configuration Manager, enabling Microsoft co-management will make it far easier for you to:
Provision new devices when employees are not in the office
Enabling co-management will give you access to new features in Microsoft Intune including Windows Autopilot, a tool that radically simplifies the process of provisioning new devices. Laptops can be shipped directly to employees from the hardware vendor. Meaning that as soon as the user connects their new devices to the Internet, they can be provisioned remotely, giving all employees the same experience, no matter where they are.
Ensure all devices comply with corporate IT policies
To reduce the risk of security breaches, you may have corporate IT policies that state that all users must have the latest anti-virus signature definitions and a certain version of Windows 10 or 11 on their devices. Using co-management, you can ensure that if a user’s device does not comply, the user receives a notification and is restricted from accessing data and systems until compliance with IT policy is achieved. This is very straightforward to do with co-management, whereas attempting to set this kind of ‘conditional access’ up with Configuration Manager is an overly complex process.
Monitor app usage to keep productivity up and costs down
Co-management gives IT teams a fresh insight into the applications that users rely on. It enables them to see if employees are using different software packages, or old versions of apps, and missing new functionality that could make their jobs easier. Statistics, such as the length of time required to boot up devices, are available immediately, so IT teams can quickly see if there are unnecessary bottlenecks running on a device that are slowing the device down and inhibiting employee productivity. Equally, IT teams can see who has access to which apps – and whether they actually need them – which helps organisations to reduce costs by not paying for excess licences.
Provide effective, remote IT support
Instead of having to remotely connect to individual devices to troubleshoot IT issues, an IT technician can connect to any device without end-user intervention to restart it or control it remotely. If a device is stolen, the IT department can perform a complete factory reset, making corporate apps unusable and safeguarding business data. Configuration Manager provides some remote capabilities, but, again, doesn’t give IT teams the same flexibility offered by co-management.
Proactively manage the health of devices throughout their entire lifecycle
With Microsoft co-management it is far easier to monitor the health of corporate devices, including battery life and CPU diagnostics, and proactively plan device refreshes. IT teams can easily see who has what device, how old it is, how it is performing, which department it is linked to and when it should be upgraded or replaced. This can be done to some extent in Configuration Manager, but it is a very convoluted process, involving lots of different screens and reports.
Roll out updates and configuration changes more quickly
When organisations have thousands of hybrid workers, it can take days if not weeks to push out application updates and new security features to all remote devices using Configuration Manager and corporate networks. Indeed, many of Camwood’s clients have struggled to run overnight updates at all, due to the complexities of distributing configuration changes via virtual private networks (VPNs) with bandwidth constraints. Using co-management, organisations can deliver their updates securely over the Internet, rather than over internal networks, enabling updates to be delivered quickly and simultaneously to thousands of devices.
How do I get started with Microsoft co-management?
There are two paths for enabling co-management, depending on whether organisations have traditional on-premise IT infrastructure and currently use Configuration Manager or whether they are Internet-based businesses with alternative approaches to managing devices. In either case, the migration to co-management is straightforward. Critically, most organisations that already use Microsoft 365 already have access to co-management and can enable this value-adding technology with no additional licencing costs.
Some organisations do not require any third-party support to start taking advantage of co-management, but for those who do, Camwood’s Professional Services team has a lot of experience in this area. We can support customers from initial concept through to implementation or simply provide consultation to get you started. Either way, the migration to co-management need not take a long time or put a dent in your annual IT budget.
With so many impactful benefits with the adoption of co-management, this is one IT initiative that you should definitely add to your IT plans for 2022. For more information on how Camwood can assist with all your Co-management questions, click here to contact us.