With the introduction of personal productivity software in the 1980’s, Microsoft revolutionized how people work and the way organizations make use of data. As work styles and technology have evolved, the company continues to guide organizations and people towards optimal ways of working. Historically, that has put a greater burden on IT organizations who have to maintain updates, security requirements, and compliance across an ever-increasing array of users and services. Now, as part of Microsoft 365, the company is delivering services that give IT teams greater control and flexibility to manage and integrate SaaS, cloud, mobile, and other Microsoft functionality that is critical to optimizing the Microsoft 365 platform.
As we’ve seen, Microsoft 365 now integrates a comprehensive set of services, including Windows 10, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EM + S), that not only give workers a robust desktop, but act as a modern dashboard for collaboration, communication, and engagement across internal and external stakeholder groups. This delivers on the Microsoft 365 promise of involving more people and empowering them to make better use of data for decision making towards organizational growth.
Better IT Oversight While Maintaining Enterprise Agility
The different elements of Microsoft 365 give end users greater control of their working environment; they can be more collaborative and make better use of data available to them. As users exert more control over their working environments, they have also been tasked with administrative functions like updates and security patches. This is a natural outgrowth of easy-to-use technology.
At issue, however, is compliance. When workers don’t actually adhere to required management guidelines, this can lead to security vulnerabilities and other unintended consequences. In previous generations, this work was all handled by IT; they would literally install and patch systems on desktops. It was an onerous, time-consuming task, but it ensured that all systems were up to date. IT still has the responsibility of ensuring this compliance, however, and thankfully Microsoft has created a model that balances users’ ability to handle their own management with the need for IT to engage when necessary and provide administrative oversight.
While much of the overall administration can still be offloaded to users, IT still plays a critical role in ensuring compliance, security, and efficiency. With admin tools in Microsoft 365, IT organizations can oversee users without interfering with their work. It creates a more secure, organized environment without losing any of the agility and flexibility that Microsoft 365 delivers to organizations.
Deploy, Manage, and Enforce
Microsoft 365, as a cloud service, delivers continuous updates; fixes, versions, and new innovations are added with each code push. But for customers to get the most out of their Microsoft investment, they need users to actually take action. Microsoft Managed Desktop (MMD) is a new service that integrates Microsoft 365 Enterprise, device-as-a-service, and cloud-based device management by Microsoft. It enables customers to maximize their IT organizations’ focus on their business while Microsoft manages their modern desktops.
In some ways, MMD acts as an enterprise desktop-as-a-service, albeit a secure and hyper-efficient one. IT departments will no longer need an infrastructure, including teams of skilled IT workers, dedicated solely to the task of updating and monitoring individual users’ instances of their desktop — no inventorying, provisioning, or patching. With the help of native Microsoft 365 administration tools, these tasks are automated and tracked.
Device management is increasingly how users access Microsoft 365 services. Microsoft includes management tools and capabilities so IT teams can ensure integration, compliance, and effective management across smartphones, tablets, IoT devices, and other non-desktop form factors. In addition to MMD, Microsoft 365 users can benefit from a tool called Microsoft Intune, which can be used specifically to centrally manage and configure Windows-based mobile devices. Microsoft 365 also provides a process called Windows Autopilot that gives IT teams the ability to integrate hardware from different vendors to be discoverable and manageable as soon as they connect to the internet within the customer’s Microsoft 365 environment. This gives IT departments deeper visibility into user behavior and overall enterprise compliance, but it also helps them make smart decisions when it comes to creating user policies and guidelines.
With so many high-profile data breaches among organizations across the globe, there is increased awareness being placed on security. Microsoft has made security a top concern, especially because Microsoft 365 applications like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint being used by customers often carry sensitive data. Research from McAfee even suggests that more than half of all privileged data stored in the cloud is contained in Office documents.
Using Microsoft IT admin solutions eliminates tasks like firewall management configuration. Microsoft 365 has built-in endpoint protection and routinely detects the need for updates and patches that can be automatically installed. IT departments are able to identify compliant and non-compliant accounts and apply their own rules about usage; in other words, the platform delivers the updates, yet the end user still has choices about when, or whether, he wants to install them. IT, ultimately, can create and enforce policies that mandate updates for non-compliant users.
Microsoft 365 also uses a service called Identity and Access Management that is natively part of Azure. It provides an interface and backend management for single sign-on and secure connectivity for user access from outside the corporate network.
Rapid adoption of Microsoft 365 has been a huge benefit to enterprises thanks to all the choices and flexibility it provides. Microsoft’s well-considered strategy includes smart tools and solutions that ensure environments are secure, effective, and compliant with organizational guidelines.