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How ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud Solutions Can Give You Visibility Over Remote Workforces

4 Nov 2020

If we can consider one upside to coronavirus, it is the fact that it has helped accelerate working practices by decades. Twelve months ago, most professionals didn’t have a home setup, and many organizations were nowhere near prepared to facilitate the mass migration of staff from the office to their living rooms. But now, with the global pandemic forcing us to re-evaluate, it’s clear that businesses across the globe have assessed the complexities and mobilized sufficiently to help their people adopt better remote working practices.

That said, there are still some issues that need to be resolved before organizations can truly commit to a flexible working model – and one of the biggest is ensuring maximum visibility over their IT hardware and software estate. In fact, according to data from our latest report, Beyond the C Word, 63% of IT Managers and CIOs see supporting remote working as one of their biggest, but rewarding challenges moving forward. Businesses will gain greater control over how to conduct their workforce and save valuable time, money and resources – which, in this environment, are in short supply!

In this article, we will examine the challenges that emerge from working remotely as well as the solutions that ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud products – such as those from Certero – can offer to help you avoid wasting money and increase efficiency.

The Challenges of Remote Working

As we’ve seen over the course of 2020, many organizations have transitioned from an office environment to remote working and hybrid working models – with flexible time split between the home and the office. For the majority of businesses, this might have been fairly straightforward, but there are a number of challenges that present themselves to those that have not fully prepared their IT estate for the transition.

Maintaining Visibility

One of the most prescient concerns for IT Managers and CIOs across the spectrum is the potential clamor for new software requests that may arise from home working. In order to meet the demands of remote working, organizations require new solutions, which in turn puts strain on the IT teams. This includes anything from managing requests, approving new software and installing new programs in remote settings. The strain comes as IT departments battle to understand what is required from each internal team and ensure that each platform is properly sanctioned for the remote workforce, as well as visible and under their control.

Simply put, you can’t manage your estate – track and approve licenses, oversee your cloud assets, determine and block potential security risks – if you don’t know what assets you have or where those assets actually are.

As we saw during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and certainly as governments ordered nation-wide lockdowns, organizations were quick to procure new IT assets in order to facilitate the move to remote working. This was obviously the correct thing to do – allowing staff to quickly and effectively work from home and reducing the impact on productivity for the organization as a whole. As our Beyond the C Word report demonstrates, this was no easy task, with 45% of CIOs and IT Managers highlighting it as the biggest challenge they faced during lockdown.

The downside of this move, however, was that a vast majority of new assets were not visible within the current network, meaning that IT managers had zero visibility or control over how they were handled. And this lack of innate visibility could leave organizations completely open to security threats. For example, being unable to see whether assets are properly patched or have antivirus protection is a huge link to be missing from the IT chain – which leaves teams, and by extension the whole business, blind!

With an all-encompassing, robust ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud solution, you are able to discover, inventory and manage remote devices and assets in your network – regardless of whether they are completely mobile, linked to your mainframe or cloud-based. And with multiple discovery methods – such as agent and agentless inventory – it’s easier than ever to get a holistic understanding of what assets live within your network. Furthermore, with the right solution in place, this data is automatically tracked and collated, meaning that IT teams no longer have to rely on spreadsheets and outdated manual tracking to keep an eye on all their assets.

As long as IT Managers and CIOs have visibility over assets, they can eliminate security risks, licensing issues and cost extractions that might otherwise slip under the radar. So whilst this is a perceived challenge as new assets are procured, with a complete ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud solution that can be deployed remotely, potential breaches can be halted and normal service can resume unhindered.

Dealing with Security

As stated above, security risks are intrinsically linked to your overall visibility: if you can’t see it, you don’t know what it’s doing. And this can have negative impacts on your business if you’re not careful. Which is why deploying the right ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud solution is critical to ensuring that your IT estate – even in remote working environments – is properly protected.

The move to remote working has only accentuated this need for security protection. With more devices being procured daily and therefore joining your network, you’re effectively introducing a number of potential vulnerabilities. And this goes way beyond new laptops for staff. As we shift to more permanent remote setups, smartphones, tablets, and a whole host of internet-enabled devices could join the network – making it essential that IT teams can see them all and understand what weaknesses may be introduced.

Large-scale security breaches such as the   which saw thousands of UK NHS devices suffer an intrusive ransomware attack, underlines the fact that having only some visibility is as ineffective as no visibility. If you can’t see all of the devices in your network, you’re as open to security risks as you would be with absolutely no visibility – providing an easy point of entry for hackers to get into your network undetected.

But despite the obvious risks, 50% of enterprises only perform asset management once a year, meaning that your organization could be at risk and you simply wouldn’t know!

With a complete ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud solution from Certero, you will have full visibility over your devices, being able to identify and combat risks as they appear. But this doesn’t just offer a clear view of risk-prone devices. With Certero, you can get a granular picture of all the devices in your network – even down to their kilobyte files. So even if one device is not properly patched, posing a potential security risk, you’ll be able to see it and take effective action, quickly.

Licensing & Auditing

The new model of working is forcing IT managers and CIOs to take their licensing considerations into account. One common issue across businesses is that, with the workforce fluctuating wildly at present, it’s not atypical to see them being over-licensed for their actual needs. In fact, our data suggests that some organizations could be 20-30% over licensed  across their IT estate. This is primarily due to starter and leaver processes being lax, meaning that businesses are paying for licenses that aren’t currently in use across the workforce.

And whilst this is a pressing issue for IT teams to work through, a growing concern is that of licensing consideration during the transition from the office to the home-working environment. Do all of your licenses have the same user rights? Are your license entitlements transferable? These are the questions that will plague IT teams as we look toward a new way of working.

In some cases, it may be that licenses that were purchased for use in an office setting cannot be used remotely, which could leave your organization open to scrutiny and heavy fines. Therefore, it’s vital that you check your entitlements before making any changes to ensure you stay compliant throughout the transition. Of course, this is only possible if you have full visibility of your IT estate. Without an ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud solution that gives you that comprehensive overview, you won’t be able to see what’s compliant and what’s not, which could prove costly for your business.

One consideration that IT managers need to take into account is instances where applications are located at server level and ensure everyone is licensed for that. In these cases, everyone who has access to the server (which could mean everyone with a device) could theoretically have access to the individual application. Often when device-based licensing is being used, a risky scenario can occur whereby if only one person needs to access an application across the business, but everyone could potentially access the software, then everyone needs to have a license to remain compliant – whether they have actually used the software or not! For example, if 1,000 users have access to a Citrix Server farm (or any other thin client) where Microsoft Project is installed, but only one person uses the software, everyone needs a license and vendors are sure to identify this type of typical, costly error when they next audit. In financial terms, this could prove incredibly costly for just one person to access a software, unless the risk is understood and properly controlled.

For situations like this, IT managers and CIOs need an ITAM and SAM solution with Access Control functionality, which will allow them to restrict usage on a per user and per device basis, as required to demonstrate and be able to provide the evidence of control to satisfy a vendor audit and avoid potentially huge unnecessary cost. Not only will this limit access to certain applications for users, but it will also ensure that you remain compliant both in and out of the office. Certero for Enterprise SAM AccesCtrl module provides IT teams full control of licensing in thin clients and VPNs, enabling them to create bespoke access control policies that guarantee compliance across the organization, guarding against risk in an audit.

This intense focus on licenses and visibility will inevitably raise concerns around auditing. Data from the Beyond the C Word survey shows that over 20% of IT Managers and CIOs expect to see a rise in the number of audits post-pandemic – demonstrating how important it is for organizations to get on top of their compliance. Whether or not this turns out to be true, it’s important to recognize that audits have not stopped, so you need to be ready in case that letter comes through! If you have full visibility over your IT estate, with a holistic ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud solution you will receive real-time compliance data that alerts you to any changes in your estate – helping you to be better prepared.

By devising and implementing a strategy early, organizations can protect themselves from the risk of an audit and save money in the process!

Containing the Cloud

In most instances, leveraging Cloud IaaS / PaaS and SaaS applications has assisted with the transition to remote working, enabling applications and software to ‘stay in place’ even if assets and individuals move. But just because Cloud environments cannot be non-compliant doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its fair share of issues – especially if there’s a lack of visibility for IT teams. Indeed, one of the biggest issues faced by IT Managers and CIOs during the transition to remote working has been the hasty implementation of Cloud across the network. In some cases, this has led to wastage and over-spend where it could easily have been avoided with the right ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud solutions.

Without proper oversight and the assistance of a functioning solution, organizations can be left open to various cloud-based threats; including Shadow IT, Bill Shock, Toxic Consumption, and Cloud Sprawl. Increased visibility and governance over the cloud will enable IT teams to detect and deal with threats before they can have any significant impact, ensuring that costs stay low and remote teams can work efficiently.

Shadow IT

Sometimes referred to as ‘Stealth IT’ or ‘Client IT’, this is when cloud systems are purchased without the explicit organizational approval of the IT department – or when cloud systems are deployed by other departments. According to our data, this is a very real concern for 40% of IT managers, as it represents an area where costs can go unregulated, damaging finances in the long-run. With a comprehensive ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud solution, with complete Cloud integration, IT teams will have full visibility of their assets, allowing them to see what has been deployed, and where!

Bill Shock

As the name suggests, this is when your organizational costs unexpectedly change or increase. In the majority of cases, this occurs when users sign-up to cloud applications without proper performance or capacity planning, which leads to unexpected bills. With complete visibility you’ll be alerted to any un-recognized sign-ups, allowing you to take action quickly and efficiently.

Toxic Consumption

Toxic consumption is when resources are purchased and then not ‘managed’ appropriately, resulting in unexpected costs. For example, a user could launch a new workload in AWS to test a new software version or database, but forget to power it down or delete the application when it is no longer required. Without visibility of these Cloud assets, IT teams run the risk of having redundant resources in place, which will incur an unnecessary cost to the business. Therefore, unmanaged assets pose a significant security risk if they are not properly monitored or updated!

Cloud Sprawl

This refers to the uncontrolled spread of an organization’s cloud instances, services or providers. For example, if a developer launches a new workload in AWS to run tests, even though the resources are already available in another environment, or better pricing options could have been negotiated in an existing agreement. With a dedicated ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud solution, it’s easier to track and govern cloud instances, enabling IT teams to prevent sprawl and reduce unnecessary expenditure.

At the end of the day, the proliferation of Cloud instances as a direct response to remote working has presented new challenges to IT teams. With the visibility that a complete ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud solution can provide, you will be able to monitor and control cloud instances across your IT estate, ensuring that there are no security risks or unregulated costs, aiding the entire business.

How Certero Can Help

We’ve highlighted some of the core issues surrounding remote working through the lens of ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud. But how do we resolve these issues and ensure that business can continue as normal, with full access and visibility over their IT estate, and without the risk of wasting money unnecessarily or opening themselves up to security threats?

Firstly, it’s important to have a solution that works within the framework of remote environments, allowing IT Managers to deploy tools unimpeded – whether they themselves are working from home or in the office. Certero’s Unified Platform is a true SaaS solution, designed for use in multiple cloud environments, making it easier for IT teams to get the tools they need to manage governance remotely. The right tool is paramount in giving IT complete visibility of the estate, no matter where they are, which will then enable them to take decisive action.

What is core to Certero’s offering is the ability to see your entire IT estate through a single pane of glass, with one dedicated data source and one user interface. We are the only developer of enterprise-scale ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud solutions to offer a unified, SaaS-ready platform, removing the need for manual installation, configuration or on-premises maintenance. This means that you can discover, inventory and report in one location, instantly, removing the delays and giving you complete visibility of your estate from the word go.

This easy-to-use platform brings order to chaos, allowing you to dissect big data points and find problems that could be plaguing your business. And with a real-time, automated solution, Certero takes the leg-work out of compiling data – meaning all visible data points can be collated into easy-to-digest reports in minutes, helping to provide a comprehensive overview of your business. With the right platform, you can say goodbye to outdated, complicated processes and discover a new way to track and monitor your IT assets.

And in a world where time and money are of the essence, the ability to see everything ensures that you’ll have the right data to make an informed decision about your future.

What Does This Mean for the Future?

The question of what this could all mean for ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud in the future is incredibly fluid; after all, the situation is ever-evolving as we see communities, governments and businesses finding new ways of coping throughout the pandemic.

What does seem clear, however, is that we are unlikely to be heading back to the office any time soon, and remote, flexible working is very much the ‘new normal’. With that in mind, the role of ITAM, SAM, SaaS and Cloud will only increase in importance, as businesses try to maintain high service levels whilst operating more efficiently in the wake of a weakening economic forecast. But it also suggests that complete visibility will be paramount moving forward, with those in IT and above requiring more insight to ensure that staff have the tools they need to complete their day-to-day functions and that these can be carried out without causing unnecessary cost or security risks.

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