Demystifying end-user device lifecycle management with Hexnode

Alessia Forster

Jun 14, 2021

11 min read

What was the first thought that flashed in your mind when you heard the term ‘IT team’? I’m pretty sure that you had this image of a group of people managing a whole lot of devices at different stages of their use or, more technically, dealing with device lifecycle management in a setting having an ambiance of struggle and impatience.

Being a part of IT was never an easy job. Managing the large fleet of employee devices and attending to an array of device issues, both minute and hardcore, of every employee, requiring closer inspection and consistent efforts, is not everybody’s cup of tea.

Situations have changed now, but challenges are still intact, if not expanded to even higher realms. Seamless internet connectivity and all-around digitization have helped data escape the bounds of our servers and establish its dominance even in the cloud. But it also has its shady twin; data breaches and security vulnerabilities, both on-premise and cloud-based, at its zenith now. Data breach incidents are now extending far and wide, from stolen credentials, misconfigurations and phishing attacks to ransomware and backdoor malware. As a result, securing devices from both inside and outside threats has become the need of the hour, and so the role of IT in managing end-users and their devices can’t be emphasized more.

Some IT challenges that can’t be left unattended

As times have changed, our employee devices are no longer confined to the four walls of the offices. Now actions like servicing, security patching, updating software, accessing devices details and update requirements; that was easily done within the office premises by manually configuring them are no longer possible as employees switch to more flexible device options like BYOD. As employees’ devices have broken free from location barriers, ensuring that data is secure even if they are being accessed without a safe environment has become a deciding factor.

Onsite IT centers for repair and updates are becoming elements of the past

We are all part of a major crisis. The pandemic has literally shaken all our working habits, now chances of getting device issues solved from an IT center or corporate office are really slim. And device issues are bound to pop up, now and then.

According to Intel,

“The lifetime incident profiles of endpoints pointed out major support issues throughout the device lifecycle covering a wide range of aspects from network issues to virus remediation needs.”

As far as employee devices are concerned, solving these issues is often given at most importance as device downtimes can really be a costly affair for businesses leading to reduced employee productivity and business opportunities.

Implement hassle-free device management strategies with Hexnode

Outdated devices- the easiest source of vulnerability

With the implementation of remote work, employees can access corporate data from anywhere and from any device, personal or corporate, necessitating effective strategies for ensuring data safety. Additionally, as older devices are no longer supported by the authorized vendors, regular security patches for these devices are no longer available, creating a greater chance for these devices to be exposed to external threats.

Managing your distributed endpoints from a single, convenient point

Managing endpoints from a single centralized console was always a major challenge for the IT team. Now with emphasis on remote work, this challenge has become even worse. With devices accessing corporate data from various networks, including suspicious networks, most devices are on the verge of attacks. Without an effective mechanism in place to remotely monitor and curb these vulnerabilities as and when they appear, the data of the whole organization can be at risk.

Well, modern problems require modern solutions

Workspaces are now becoming modern
Workspaces are now becoming modern

Devices are the critical components in a workplace. A modern workplace is one that effortlessly solves device issues and streamlines its operations by eliminating all time-consuming processes and creating a secure work environment. It requires efficient device management strategies throughout its lifecycle supported by over-the-air management to make things easier in this challenging pandemic era and even otherwise.

What really is device lifecycle?

Device lifecycle, as far as an employee or organizational devices are concerned, involves all the stages that the device undergoes during its use in the organization. It involves all the steps from the initial device enrollment, configuring and securing to the end of its use in the organization or its retirement.

Addressing the ‘why’ of lifecycle management

Device lifecycle management is tailored to manage each and every process in the entire device lifecycle. Some of its why include:

  • Focus on individual stages helps in better device management.
  • Easy to manage devices from a centralized platform and access device details whenever necessary.
  • Improved employee productivity by eliminating the burden of device functionality and other issues.
  • Increased reliability of device use as they are constantly monitored and freed from errors.
  • Easier to implement security practices and push timely updates.
  • Better control over the device functionalities and easier device troubleshooting.

Hexnode for best managing the end-users throughout the lifecycle

An MDM solution should manage user devices throughout their lifecycle in the organization from its initial onboarding to the end of its lifecycle or retirement. Let’s have a closer look at each of these device’s stages and how an MDM plays a pivotal role here.

Device onboarding

An employee with a newly onboarded device
An employee with a newly onboarded device

With every new employee recruited, one of the major tasks of the IT admin used to be preparing the employee devices for onboarding. However, equipping each employee device with the necessary software and tools required for meeting their job profile is a time-consuming process. Making things even worse is the independent nature of the IT team, creating too much of a dependency on the team for each and every device issue.

Some of the device onboarding best practices include:

  • Automated enrollment process to speed up the onboarding process.
  • Easier user-initiated enrollment methods for devices that need re-enrollment into new MDM servers.
  • Making the user workstation the core of their user’s identity with the help of directory services.
  • Ensuring access to all necessary IT resources to ensure efficient working from day one.

Addressing the ‘How’ with Hexnode

Maintaining a secure environment

Data security is one of the critical components that deserves great attention in this corporate world. The fate of a newly established business is reliant on the strength of its cybersecurity practices. The first step towards creating a secure corporate environment is by ensuring that the endpoints are sealed from vulnerabilities. Securing these devices from websites and apps that are not fully trusted has always been a challenge for IT.

Some of the security best practices include:

  • Strong authentication and use of password controls.
  • Limit or block access to third-party software to prevent chances of security breaches.
  • Enforcing device encryption to store your data on devices in a form that can only be accessed with the right credentials.
  • Locking down user-facing devices to the necessary websites alone to prevent issues due to unsecured websites.

Addressing the ‘How’ with Hexnode
  • Set up strong password policies with length and complexity criteria and the restriction on the use of old passwords; with the help of password history, and enforce the use of new passwords after an appropriate period with password age.
  • Restrict users from accessing unsafe apps or websites by blacklisting them, and whitelisting allows only a set of pre-selected apps or websites on the device.
  • Enforce device encryption with FileVault and Bitlocker through policies.
  • Lockdown your corporate device to specific apps or websites as per your business needs and prevent users from accessing all other functionalities with the kiosk mode
    kiosk mode.

Regulating app distribution and management

Robust app management strategies for enterprises
Robust app management strategies for enterprises

Before the advent of an MDM solution, when device management was a tedious job, a major challenge they faced was app management. Manually installing the required apps and fixing issues that came up and reinstalling them, and updating them as and when necessary was too hard to manage.

Some of the app management best practices include:

  • Limit the enterprise devices to applications that are secure and trusted by the organization.
  • Add or remove apps from employee devices directly from a single platform, making the process easier and secure.
  • Automating the process of updating applications.
  • Pre-configure the applications by restricting the functionalities that can pose security issues.

Addressing the ‘How’ with Hexnode

Managing what your device connects to and distributes

In a corporate setting, securely distributing and managing work files to all the necessary endpoints is a major requirement. With instances of data breaches on the rise, a major challenge is preventing instances of data compromise even if the device connects accidentally to an unsecured network.

Some of the content management best practices include:

  • Use of VPN in devices to prevent data compromise when connected to unsecured networks.
  • Allowing devices to connect to secure Wi-Fi networks alone.
  • Secure distribution of corporate content to all the required targets seamlessly.
  • Easy removal of sensitive files from devices when necessary.

Addressing the ‘How’ with Hexnode
  • Enforce a Wi-Fi policy on the device to ensure that the device only connects to trusted networks that are pre-configured.
  • Create a separate work profile to separate the personal and work data by enrolling the devices in Android Enterprise.
  • Configure VPN on employee devices remotely via a policy.
  • Business container controls the flow of personal and corporate data between apps on iOS devices, along with ensuring corporate compliance by enabling restrictions that allow documents from managed sources to be accessed via managed destinations alone.

Device retirement

Devices need to be managed after retirement
Devices need to be managed after retirement

Yet another challenge that demanded attention from the IT team was device retirement. Sometimes when employees left the organization or upgraded their devices, managing how the earlier devices had to be dealt with was indeed a subject of concern. Being corporate devices, efficient methods that remove data from these devices while preventing third-party access makes it all the more important.

Some of the best practices during device retirement:

  • Secure container for storing corporate data in case the employees are using their own devices for work (BYOD) that can be easily wiped when an employee leaves.
  • Remotely wipe corporate data from organizational devices that are no longer used or from devices of employees who left the organization.
  • Revoke app license from retired devices and deploy them to new users.

Addressing the ‘How’ with Hexnode
  • Complete wipe feature to wipe the data from the corporate-owned device before the user ships it back for reuse or recycling.
  • Corporate wipe feature to wipe the corporate data from the user’s device (BYOD) that is stored separately from the personal data in a secure container.
  • Easily revoke license of apps purchased via Apple VPP from devices that are no longer used. It can be done from Hexnode by clicking on the number of VPP licenses under the required application and then selecting the revoke license option after selecting the required users.
Alessia Forster

Product Evangelist @ Hexnode. Take life as it comes. One day at a time.

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