The modern workforce is decentralized, mobile, and often disconnected from the corporate network. Traditional Windows management tools are designed to manage only devices on-prem or on the corporate network. Mobile device management (MDM) offers many important benefits for IT admins when managing Windows devices in a dispersed workforce environment. They can now provision devices, distribute applications, manage patches, and carry out other administrative tasks regardless of the employee’s location. In this article, we will look at the capabilities of MDM solutions to manage Windows devices remotely.
Provisioning and Onboarding Windows Devices
Today, employees expect to unbox a new laptop, set it up with their credentials, and start using it in a few minutes. Windows device management enables IT teams to have automatic and self-service capabilities for first-time setup. IT admins can push all the necessary configurations and applications over the air well before the device is unboxed.
The auto-enroll capabilities are possible with the Windows AutoPilot Program. It is a collection of technologies used to set up and pre-configure new (and existing) devices, getting them ready for work. After deploying the Windows AutoPilot software, organizations can auto-enroll Windows 10/11 devices into MDM solutions for an out-of-the-box experience.
It is pretty straightforward for employees. When they connect their Windows 10/11 devices to the network, Windows prompts them to sign in with their Azure Active Directory (AAD) email address and password. After authentication, the new devices connect to the AAD and are automatically enrolled into the device management solution.
Does MDM manage Windows 7/8 devices?
Several businesses still use Windows 7/8 devices and need time to upgrade to Windows 10. An agent-based management approach works best to manage Windows 7 and 8 or 8.1 devices. The Scalefusion agent is a lightweight application installed in end-user devices to monitor and manage device performance. It extends modern management capabilities such as patch management—from scanning and detecting missing patches to downloading and deploying them. The agent runs in the background, allowing employees to continue working.
The proliferation of apps to manage different business activities in an organization is ever-increasing. Modern IT management is agile and should be able to manage the distribution of software apps. With modern management capabilities, organizations can push mandatory apps during device onboarding. Some apps are pushed later to users, and some can be made available via an app catalog. The app catalog is a one-stop shop for users who might view and download apps later.
Managing essential applications
Organizations need their workforce to have some essential apps to be productive. An organization’s onboarding device management includes adding and deploying apps to users’ devices. Scalefusion simplifies this process by remotely installing native apps (Win32 or UWP). For additional support, organizations can also consider hiring web developers who specialize in app deployment and management.
Managing apps with Microsoft Store for Business
The Microsoft Store for Business enables IT admins to acquire, manage, and distribute applications in bulk. Organizations can add the Azure domain account to integrate the store with Scalefusion. After completing the integration, IT admins can acquire the applications from the store, distribute them, and manage their updated versions from the app repository.
Applying software patches across an organization’s Windows device fleet has always been an IT challenge. The rise of the remote work model has only exacerbated the patching process. With an MDM solution, IT staff can push operating system updates and patches to wherever devices are present and whatever networks they are on. This over-the-air approach to patching and OS updates leverages the capabilities of Windows with more control. Organizations can push and publish updates based on their discretion.
Third-party app updates and patches
A third-party application is a software designed by an independent vendor other than Windows. Failing to patch third-party applications can expose a company’s IT infrastructure to supply chain attacks. A supply chain (or value chain) attack occurs when bad actors gain access and take advantage of access granted to third-party apps as a backdoor into a company’s IT network. Adhering to patch management best practices and an efficient device management solution can help IT teams keep up with updates and patches available for third-party apps. With Scalefusion, companies can automate the patching process of non-Microsoft applications.
Managing Windows Devices Remotely
With a limited staff and a large, distributed workforce, IT teams cannot be available at every location to troubleshoot and address device issues. Travel time is inefficient and sometimes impractical. When remote employees ship devices, IT staff often wait for the devices to arrive to fix them. This leaves employees having to wait for several days—without a device to work with—for the device to ship from the IT department. Windows remote management gives IT admins access to devices wherever they are—at home or at a local coffee shop.
Troubleshooting unattended Windows devices
With unattended remote device management, IT admins can set up remote control sessions on a Windows computer or tablet without needing someone in front of the remote device to accept the connection. To take control, IT admins can push and install the remote support app on the unattended device through the MDM dashboard.
Scalefusion allows organizations to record remote sessions. By recording remote desktop sessions, IT admins can keep a record of all the activities that occur during a single session. Many compliance regulations require recording remote sessions and recorded files in auditing. Certain troubleshooting issues can be complex, calling for several steps to resolve an issue. Recording such sessions can serve as training material for IT teams.
Additional Windows remote management & support with Intel vPro®
There are uncountable business Windows laptops and computers built on the Intel vPro® platform. It is a platform built to integrate with a suite of technologies, including MDM tools, to manage a device fleet remotely. The platform features the Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) for Windows which takes Windows device management to the next level. After activating the Intel AMT feature, IT teams can access a device even when it is turned off. Scalefusion works jointly with Intel AMT to turn on a device remotely and take control without manual intervention.
Windows Scripting & Custom Settings
As a scripting language, PowerShell is mainly used for automation. IT admins can leverage PowerShell to automate repetitive processes, saving time and effort. One can pass instructions from the MDM software to Windows devices using PowerShell scripts. They reduce the workload and minimize the possibility of errors. IT admins can use the Scalefusion agent to upload PowerShell scripts and run them on Windows 10 devices.
Microsoft has a history of releasing new custom payloads (or CSPs) for Windows devices, but customers may still need support for CSPs that are not available. Using Scalefusion’s custom setting feature, IT admins can push CSPs as a part of Windows device profiles to Windows 10 devices. They can create XML files based on the interested CSPs and deploy them to devices. Newly created CSP configurations can be deleted after testing them on sample devices.
Inventory & Reporting
Device reports allow IT admins to monitor the health and activity of Windows devices across the organization proactively. MDM lets IT admins generate a wide range of reports on the go, including device compliance, device health, and granular reports based on specific requirements. IT admins can provide regular updates without manual intervention by creating periodic reports.
Scalefusion’s reporting and inventory capability consolidates all enrolled devices and related information in easy-to-follow standardized reports. IT admins can schedule report generation daily, weekly, or monthly as per requirement. The endpoint management’s report and alert feature allows IT admins to configure reports and alerts based on audit requirements.
MDM integrates into different directory services to provide over-the-air configuration of user email accounts on enrolled devices. Device management allows IT to provide email access to BYOD and company-owned devices while enforcing security policies to protect corporate data. Scalefusion’s Conditional Email Access (CEA) takes email management a step further.
In the simplest form, if a user accesses its corporate email from an unmanaged device, CEA quarantines the account, making it inactive. CEA restricts access to only managed and compliant devices. Employees need to enroll their unmanaged devices to access the email client.
Scalefusion Windows MDM Software supports managing Windows 7, 8.1, 10, and 11 devices. IT teams leverage Scalefusion to monitor, maintain, and inventory devices and applications from a single console. Organizations can create a free account in a few simple steps and start enrolling and managing Windows devices remotely.