As we near the end of the second year of the pandemic, questions remain over how long we can expect the Covid-19 virus to linger and disrupt life as we know it. No matter how long into the future we mask up, the “new normal” of hybrid IT in the enterprise isn’t going anywhere. Employees are less tied to the physical office than ever, and businesses now recognize the importance of providing the tools and infrastructure to keep them connected, productive, and secure wherever they log in.
This concept is a song companies like HP Inc., amongst others, have been singing for a long time leading up to the pandemic. And they were right. They’ve long recognized that the future of work is hybrid—the question was not if we’d get to this place, but how soon. This week HP Inc. took the wrapper off several new cloud-based, hybrid solutions that they want to will simplify device management for IT departments, allowing them to focus on more strategic priorities.
While employees have been going remote, we have also seen the remote PC or Cloud-PC take off among the digital transformation of the enterprise as well. Many Desktop as a Service (DaaS) popping up, including Microsoft recently announced its Windows 365Cloud PC for the enterprise. HP recently acquired Teradici to provide a higher-end, workstation experiencing using infrastructure customers already have. Amazon has a similar service called Amazon Workspaces. On top of all these services, the direction of many notebooks is toward thin and light ACPCs; a good example of this is HP’s Dragonfly notebook (I’m hoping to see a 5G iteration pretty soon). These computing solutions address the ever-moving hybrid work that businesses and the enterprise are embracing post-pandemic.
The difficulty in going hybrid is it puts unneeded strain on the IT department. I’m thinking of companies with BYOD policies and employees who use a work desktop in the office and then transition to personal devices while working remotely. It becomes challenging to manage all these devices, and it becomes even more difficult to keep them secure. On top of all these scenarios, the Cloud-PC brings an extra level of difficulty. HP is looking to address some of these issues with its new endpoint management solutions for the enterprise. Let’s look at what HP Inc. announced.
Adaptive Endpoint Management
The first announcement is HP Adaptive Endpoint Management. This fully managed service enables IT departments to have work-ready Windows PCs delivered directly to employees. The service boasts zero-touch deployment, a feature that has taken on heightened importance in this era of social distancing.
Unbox the new Windows PC, sign in with a single click, and your businesses’ suite of applications installs automatically. According to HP Inc., the whole process takes less than an hour and requires no involvement with the IT department. I think this takes away a lot of the pressure from IT to manage many devices at once. It would be easy, as an enterprise OEM, to provide this service only for HP products. It is in the cloud, and HP says it works with multiple operating systems vendors (flavors of Windows and Chrome). There doesn’t need to be one device or Cloud solution for all lines of businesses, rather one endpoint manager for all different devices pertaining to each line of business. And that’s a plus.
In addition to the frictionless deployment process, HP Adaptive Endpoint Management will streamline day-to-day management through cloud-based processes such as the automatic provisioning of Microsoft Autopilot and security policy enforcement. Lastly, the service also supports legacy applications, typically a challenge in the cloud—a crucial consideration for any business with ambitions for digital transformation. In the back of my mind, I wonder how well Adaptive Endpoint Management fits with BYOD policies. The easy deployment of security policies is a win, but there are different challenges in taking over a personal device; whether we like it or not, security policies can easily infringe on employee privacy.
HP Connect for Microsoft Endpoint Manager
The next newly announced offering is HP Connect for Microsoft Endpoint Manager, which seeks to make it easier for IT departments to remotely configure, secure, and update the BIOS of HP commercial PCs. Connect for Microsoft Endpoint Manager essentially connects HP commercial PCs to the same endpoint manager that a business would have its cloud PCs. I think this solution is intuitive to managing a hybrid fleet of devices within the cloud and on-prem.
The solution allows for over 100 different customized HP BIOS settings, which IT can push to PCs during original setup or modify remotely at any time via the cloud. An additional benefit of HP Connect for Microsoft Endpoint Manager is that it helps guard PC BIOS against unauthorized changes. Microsoft Endpoint Manager is a tool designed to be simple enough that SMBs that lack IT could deploy Cloud PCs without hassle. HP Connect tacks onto this simplicity without sacrificing security, and I think the BIOS management features and inclusion of non-cloud PCs make it a complete package for hybrid fleets. HP Connect for Microsoft Endpoint Manager is even available in the Azure Marketplace.
Cloud Endpoint Manager
Lastly, HP announced a new endpoint manager called Cloud Endpoint Manager for managing thousands of HP Thin Clients. HP Thin Clients are edge devices for accessing Cloud PCs or DaaS and have been around for over a decade. Where these tiny devices lack in power, they make up for in connectivity to the cloud. Cloud Endpoint Manager promises to be a new, intuitive solution for managing emergent enterprise mobility tools like Thin Clients.
The new cloud offering, accessible via a web browser from any location, enables IT departments to deploy, manage and ensure the security of thousands of HP Thin Client devices running VDI in their organization. HP Cloud Endpoint Manager gives administrators customizable dashboards that provide analytics and information on deployments, compliance, and server health. As the enterprise moves toward a hybrid and Cloud-PC dominating workflow, I see HP Thin Clients filling the void and appealing to many businesses that desire a fleet of Cloud PCs. HP’s Cloud Endpoint Manager is giving businesses, including SMBs, if HP is true to its security and simplicity, a reason to move toward HP Thin Clients.
IT had already shifted considerably towards the various flavors of “as-a-service” offerings without the pandemic looming in the backdrop. I’m not surprised we see even more fully managed services rise concurrently with the increased need for enterprise mobility. While some may be wary of transitioning to a new delivery model in the middle of the current chaos, one of the good things about choosing HP as an IT services provider is that it is already a trusted industry mainstay. These new offerings look like valuable tools in IT departments’ battle to improve enterprise mobility, productivity, security, and work experience in our rapidly changing world.
HP’s Adaptive Endpoint Manager appears to bring adaptability and ease of use to manage different IT department devices. HP Connect for Microsoft Endpoint Manager likewise addresses the need to manage both on-prem devices and Cloud PCs, creating customizable fleets for the future. Cloud Endpoint Manager also makes HP Thin Clients appealing to businesses who desire to move to the cloud, especially for SMBs who want security and simplicity. These are the types of solutions that move the enterprise forward in digital transformation. While there are many kinks to work out regarding security, privacy, and adaptability HP is opening many doors for cloud endpoint tools.