Endpoint Management with the Cisco Meraki Integration
In today’s hyper-connected world, every major organization’s infrastructure consists of a diverse array of endpoints including computers, smartphones, tablets, and network devices.
Employees that are working remotely also require the ability to work securely and access the organization’s network anytime, anywhere. Since all these endpoints are gateways to your organization’s network, effective endpoint management is crucial to improve your remote work and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, strengthen your security, and improve your IT device management.
What is endpoint management?
Endpoint management is the process of evaluating, assigning, and tracking endpoint devices connected to an organization’s network. You can use endpoint management to administer software, hardware, and network access and enforce security policies to safeguard your IT ecosystem.
IT endpoint management ensures employee devices are functioning properly, streamlines IT operations, and enhances overall employee experience. Most organizations use integrated endpoint management and IT asset management tools to efficiently manage devices, applications, networks, data centers, and more. They use these software solutions to procure, configure, deploy, maintain, secure, and replace technological assets in the most efficient and effective manner possible
Endpoint management tools enable IT administrators and managers to oversee a diverse range of devices, all from a centralized location. Many enterprises leverage software tools like Cisco Meraki to monitor and update endpoints and ensure that all devices are secure and in good condition. With a surge in hybrid and remote workforces, IT teams also leverage endpoint management strategies to monitor network devices, and identify and troubleshoot issues remotely.
Why do you need endpoint device management?
Lack of a robust endpoint management software can make it difficult for IT administrators to manage a diversified device ecosystem. In addition to inefficient IT device management, lack of endpoint management strategies can also result in security vulnerabilities, data breaches, compliance risks, and other reputational and financial consequences.
1. Security issues
Lack of endpoint security makes your organization’s network vulnerable to malware attacks, data breaches, and other security threats. A study by Ponemon Institute found attacks on endpoints to be some of the most prevalent that respondents had experienced, with 81% of the businesses experiencing an attack involving some sort of malware.
These security risks get amplified due to unpatched operating systems, outdated antivirus software, lack of endpoints encryption, and non-restrictive password and access policies across the organization.
Lack of policy enforcement regarding Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and shadow IT devices also contribute heavily to these security risks. Organizations that don’t implement IT asset management strategies for endpoint security may not have role-based access controls, allowing employees to access confidential information beyond their permissions. These unmanaged endpoints may have unnecessary administrative privileges that may also lead to compliance violations.
2. Inaccurate inventory database
Maintaining an accurate repository of company-owned assets is crucial for efficient endpoint and IT asset management. If the devices are not actively tracked and managed, they may not get discovered and included in the database. Omission of these devices from the database can lead to an incomplete picture of an organization’s device landscape. This issue is more prevalent in organizations that have hybrid or remote workforces because a significant number of organization’s assets are deployed to those employees.
The state of devices and other endpoints are dynamic and subject to frequent changes. The ownership of some assets may get transferred, or there can be location changes. If there are devices in your IT ecosystem that are not being managed, then their device configurations may not be recorded either. This can result in your inventory database lacking important details about device specifications, network settings, and device usage.
3. Scalability bottlenecks
Scalability of IT infrastructure is greatly dependent on effective management of its existing IT assets and other endpoints. Poor endpoint management results in lack of visibility into the current state of endpoints which can eventually lead to difficulties in assessing the IT upgradation needs of your organization. Not only that, but not having reliable endpoint management strategies also result in increased manual labor and time-consuming administrative tasks, leaving little room for any other enhancements. Since IT professionals in your organization would have to manually configure and manage devices, there is a huge risk of manual errors, decreased productivity, and inconsistent processes.
As your organization grows, the number of end endpoints increases, raising the demand for monitoring and support. Inefficient endpoint and IT asset management can lead to extended resolution times for issues, delayed hardware and software upgrades, and untracked endpoints.
4. Hardware degradation
Regular maintenance, monitoring, and proactive lifecycle management are crucial for optimal utilization of hardware IT assets. Properly managed endpoints are more likely to have longer lifespans, better performance, and less hardware-related issues. In the absence of endpoint monitoring, there may not be standardized processes for replacing aging hardware components or devices, leading to inefficiencies and operational downtime.
Lack of endpoint management also results in lack of proactive maintenance and servicing of IT assets. Without monitoring systems in place, hardware issues may go undetected until they cause severe performance problems or system failures.
5. Lack of visibility
Inaccurate tracking and management of endpoints may result in inconsistent configurations, security blind spots, non-compliance, and poor mobile device management (MDM). Software applications like Cisco Meraki enable you to track all on-premise and remote assets so you can keep an updated repository of software, hardware, and network assets. Poor endpoint management results in outdated inventory databases which means that you won’t have actionable insights on your data for future decision making regarding procurement, device replacements, and allocation of resources.
Asset visibility is further impeded in case of a remote workforce. Without proper endpoint management, it becomes challenging to monitor the location and usage of assets, determine their maintenance and servicing needs, and patch the statuses of endpoints.
Essential endpoint management capabilities and features
Endpoint management tools come equipped with advanced device and network management capabilities that are crucial for effectively managing and securing an organization’s diverse inventory of endpoint devices. These capabilities include:
- Asset discovery and classification: Robust endpoint management tools are able to discover all software, hardware, and network devices and classify them into different user groups. You can create rules to classify and categorize assets based on different attributes like operating system, hardware model, user, and so on.
- Patch and update management: Tools like Cisco Meraki serve as a centralized platform for planning, deploying, and monitoring patches across all endpoint devices. These include security fixes across different asset types, software updates, and firewall upgrades based on system assessments and criticality.
- Zero-touch software distribution: You can reduce the need for manual installations by deploying software applications and updates to endpoints remotely. You can keep track of different software versions, and upgrades for future procurement and deployment. This remote access to endpoints enables you to carry out troubleshooting, maintenance, and support activities as well.
- Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): Minimize incident management response time and respond to security threats and anomalous activities on endpoints in real time. Automate proactive alerts and notifications for immediate response and resolve incidents.
- Role-based access control: Implement role-based access control to restrict administrative access and ensure proper authorization. Automate onboarding and offboarding activities to ensure that there is no access breach and employees can easily access the tools assigned to them.
Why invest in an integrated ITAM and endpoint management strategy?
Implementing a purpose-built endpoint management tool or strategy is crucial for mitigating cybersecurity threats, meeting compliance requirements, and optimizing asset utilization. This proactive approach also helps streamline IT processes, achieve productivity gains, and scale.
Here are a few main drivers to encourage investment in endpoint management through a blend of applications like Cisco Meraki and IT asset management software.
One of the most crucial operational processes in modern IT asset management is provisioning and deployment of hardware and software IT assets. With advanced network discovery and tracking capabilities, Cisco Meraki’s endpoint management helps streamline device enrollment.
For example, if you have onboarded new employees in your organization, Cisco Meraki registers these devices on the network, helps you assign and update identifiers, and assign them specific user roles for access management purposes. Once all this information is synced with your IT asset management tool, you can easily assign devices, deploy them, and ensure the success of these deployments through metrics set in your ITAM tool. Such endpoint management strategies automate recurring tasks, eliminates errors, and enhances productivity for your IT teams.
An integration between ITAM and an endpoint management tool can also be leveraged to configure device settings, for security policies, and for software installations. In addition, endpoint management software can also facilitate you through device retirement and replacement processes at the end of every device lifecycle.
Tools like Cisco Meraki enable you to wipe data from devices that have reached the end of their lifespan and help ensure that you have properly removed such devices from your organization’s network and inventory.
Manage your remote workforce
Safety of your remote endpoints is greatly dependent on enforcing security measures like antivirus, firewall, and encryption on all devices. Tools like Cisco Meraki help you implement these security measures remotely and ensure that your remote employees are adhering to your organization’s endpoint security policies.
A hybrid or remote work model increases the risk of data breach due to devices getting lost or stolen. ITAM tools help you identify the lost devices by providing up to date information on device custody, last location, and other such information. All the while, you can leverage this data to locate the device and remotely lockdown the device through Cisco Meraki. You can also strengthen the security of such high-value devices by enforcing multi-factor authentication as an added encryption layer.
Installation of software that is not approved by the organization’s IT department also poses a major security risk. IT asset management software like AssetSonar allows IT teams to manage software licenses and ensure compliance. With advanced license management capabilities, you can track software installations on remote devices to prevent license violations.
Real-time monitoring of endpoints allows you to set up and trigger automated alerts. Managing all your endpoints through an ITAM tool ensures that these automated alerts are associated with relevant assets, helping IT teams pinpoint the affected devices quickly. Since your ITAM tool contains an accurate database of all assets and their configurations and integrations, you can leverage this data to identify potential causes of issues and make informed decisions.
Endpoint management solutions like Cisco Meraki help enforce security and compliance policies. For example, if an employee is using a blacklisted software or if one of the software in use has an expired license, IT teams can easily identify and fix these issues, ensuring devices are in compliance. Staying compliant with the organization’s security policies and vendor regulations is a key to successful external audits. Your IT teams can run internal audits by using the detailed records of hardware and software configurations maintained in AssetSonar. This information is also valuable when diagnosing and resolving compatibility or performance issues before an external audit.
Targeted troubleshooting efforts depend on reports that offer insights into problem areas. For example, if trends suggest that the Lenovo devices in your IT environment exhibit performance issues after 6 months of use, you can build a troubleshooting strategy using this historical data. You can further analyze trends and patterns to identify recurring issues, enabling proactive troubleshooting and preventive measures.
Manage heterogeneous IT environment
It is crucial to handle a network of diverse devices, platforms, and applications for seamless IT operations. Since organizations these days have a wide variety of devices including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and others, unifying them in a comprehensive inventory database can be a challenging task. ITAM tools integrate with multiple discovery sources and endpoint management solutions to unify information and serve as a single source of truth for tracking heterogeneous assets.
IT asset management solutions catalog a wide range of hardware models, network assets, and software applications. Their integration with Cisco Meraki ensures that different types of IT endpoints are secured based on their classification and access. With Cisco Meraki’s advanced configuration management capabilities, your IT teams can configure and maintain diverse endpoints according to predefined standards and policies.
A diverse IT ecosystem calls for the need of data normalization so your IT teams are able to translate diverse data formats into standardized format for reporting and analysis, consistency, and cross-platform data sharing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is endpoint management important?
Endpoint management is crucial for the security of IT infrastructure because it keeps all your devices secure and compliant. It also helps enforce security measures, monitors for vulnerabilities, and tracks the usage of software applications on devices. It proactively detects endpoints that are more vulnerable to malicious cyber attacks and helps ensure their security with patch management.
What is an endpoint?
Endpoint is an end-user’s device that is used to connect to a network. Some common examples are mobile phones, PCs, desktop computers, and servers.
What is endpoint security?
Endpoint security is the practice of safeguarding endpoints and devices, identifying vulnerabilities, and taking appropriate actions to preserve the security of your network.
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