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The Unified Endpoint Management market has taken hold slowly. Recently, vendors have put the pieces in place to spark greater adoption. VMware has been at the forefront of these market developments, and now sits in a good position to reap potential rewards if UEM takes off.
Many organizations work with multiple endpoint management systems: one controlling Microsoft Windows laptops, a second controlling Apple Mac systems and several more overseeing their employees' smartphones and tablets. This design leads to duplication and inefficiencies. As a result, many organizations are planning to combine their endpoint management systems, a change intended to lower operating costs and improve productivity.
UEM systems collect and consolidate endpoint device management data, displaying it on a single console. This enables IT administrators to configure, manage, monitor and troubleshoot laptops, smartphones and -- in some cases -- wearable smart devices such as smartwatches and personal training systems.
A central control point
UEMs offer organizations many benefits.
"The ability to consolidate management tools and processes by combining PC and mobile management into a single pane of glass represents material improvements in operational efficiency," said Chris Silva, vice president at Gartner, an IT service management company based in Stamford, Conn.
Organizations can eliminate standalone management systems and lower their software licensing costs.
UEMs include high levels of automation, so organizations can streamline their processes. For example, UEM tools set security policies, so the system makes a check any time a device enters the network and generates an alert if a user system operates in an unusual manner.
Finally, UEMs enable companies to manage almost any product on the market, and thus enable employees to work to their level of comfort.
VMware emerges as a leader in a fledgling market
VMware built out its Workspace ONE Intelligence UEM line to enter the market.
"VMware…is among the most aggressive in terms of pushing UEM capabilities to the broadest set of users and challenging incumbent PC lifecycle management platforms for migration to UEM and modern management," IDC reported.
Workspace ONE provides a consistent unified app catalog that enables single sign-on to software-as-a-service, internal, native and virtual business applications, bridging the gap for modern workforces.
Although tools such as Workspace ONE offer many potential benefits, few companies have purchased such systems so far.
"Adoption has been low," said Andrew Hewitt, analyst at Forrester Research, a business and technology research and advisory firm based in Cambridge, Mass. "A very small number -- as low as only 1 to 2% of organizations -- have deployed a fully operational UEM."
The technology lacked desired functionality early in its development. Management tools offer robust management features for legacy laptops but limited visibility, integration and automation for other systems. In addition, some security features didn't integrate with common firewalls.
Chris SilvaVice president, Gartner Inc.
As vendors worked to address these shortcomings, potential customers have taken notice.
"Recently, we have seen a lot of interest: 50% of IT departments plan to evaluate UEM solutions in next 12 months," Hewitt said.
UEM adoption could spark a market boom.
"The biggest…change over the next few years will be the pressure for organizations to move to UEM as they add support for new platforms," Silva said. "Versions of Windows, such as Windows 10 in S mode, Google's ChromeOS and other emerging platforms offer a broader set of management features under UEM and, in the case of Chrome, can't be managed except with UEM."
A focus on partnerships
VMware has led other vendors to change their UEM marketing strategies. Recently, the vendor forged OEM partnerships with top technology providers such as Sprint and Dell.
"OEM agreements help users simplify the provisioning process," Hewitt said.
In March 2019, Sprint Corporation added VMware Workspace ONE and AirWatch Express to its product suite. In April 2019, Dell announced the Dell Technologies Unified Workspace, designed to give IT departments a central platform for managing endpoint devices. And in June 2019, Honeywell became an authorized reseller of VMware Workspace ONE.
Although the market has matureed, gaps remain. Most UEM platforms lack support for IoT devices.
"A few years ago, there was a lot of talk about IoT, but it has not played out," Hewitt said. "We have seen some management of unmanned tablets in kiosks and Coke machines, but not much work with industrial sensors."