Why DASH Alone Is Not the Answer for Modern PC Fleet Manageability

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Though it’s not uncommon for IT to manage PCs remotely, the global pandemic threw a curveball that catalyzed change, accelerating the move to distributed workforces and virtual workplaces almost overnight.  The biggest challenge for large-scale enterprise was to monitor and manage thousands of devices across their PC fleet, simultaneously, from a distance. With entire workforces online and out of office,  remote management tools for patch deployments, device health checks, and addressing issues below the operating system (OS), even when devices are powered off or in sleep state, suddenly became all the more relevant.  

But IT ops were not the only ones who got busier than ever at this time. For cybercriminals, the mobile, stay-at-home workforces represented a whole new opportunity to break into enterprise networks and pilfer sensitive data. Aside from the obvious security risks posed by a large number of distributed devices on multiple networks, the use of BYOD — employees using personal devices for work — in remote work environments also surged rapidly, posing several new manageability challenges for IT managers. 

A 2020 Forrester reportOpens a new window , How PCs Will Drive The Future of Work* found 70% of PC devices are employer-provisioned, leaving businesses to manage and maintain over 9,000 individual devices. To address BYOD security concerns such as malware infections (52%) and data leakages (63%)*, companies also need strong hardware-based security technologies to protect end-user computing environments. 

So far, the industry largely relied on Desktop and Mobile Architecture for System Hardware — or DASH standards — an industry-backed manageability solution for desktop and mobile systems. DASH  is built on open standards and provides more secure out-of-band client management, regardless of the vendor, OS, and device state (powered off or in sleep state). 

DASH-compliant endpoints are ubiquitous in the corporate environment and deliver widespread efficiency gains, allowing IT to simplify the management of multi-OS, distributed environments and optimize end-user productivity by reducing downtime.  The DASH standards are set and managed by a Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), a consortium of industry players that created DASH.  Intel, a leader in industry standards for PC manageability has, as a founding member, played a pivotal role in developing DASH standards, especially in the areas around providing a robust mechanism to remotely manage software licenses, regulatory compliance and cutting down on rising IT costs.   

But with all the recent changes and the continued evolution of digital workspaces, the challenges that come along with these new models have only intensified.  The environment is rife with new firmware threats that target hardware-level weaknesses. Beyond security threats, IT is also contending with maintenance-related tasks like asset inventory and performance that impact business continuity. Meanwhile, employee expectations around technology have changed exponentially. With high-volume remote user connectivity becoming the norm, workers expect the same level of flexibility with services and devices that they experience at home. 

IT managers need to go beyond the standard remote management toolset,  and explore more advanced capabilities — such as support for out-of-band device management over Wi-Fi and Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt traffic and sessions within the endpoints. 

Learn More: 3 Device Management Challenges For Modern IT Operations (And How to Overcome Them) 

Why Devices Need More Than DASH-Compliance in Today’s Environment

With an ever-growing mobile workforce and the unknowns of managing various hardware systems, OS and applications in distributed environments, DASH-only enabled endpoints may not be enough for remote manageability in today’s complex environment. According to research by consultancy firm ConcreteOpens a new window , DASH-enabled devices deliver only the baseline set of capabilities needed to protect client PC systems. Endpoints outfitted with DASH-defined functionality and no more, are like refrigerators that only nominally meet the standards for a refrigerator, at least by today’s expectations, the research posits*. This is akin to buying a product that fails to solve the most pressing problems. The question is: can ITDMs afford solutions that don’t always go the extra mile? 

IT leaders need to brace for new workplace realities that remote work has brought on.  The type of device and level of device support needed differs according to the job. For example, a multitasking marketing exec would require a lightweight business-class device with a better battery life, whereas a machine learning engineer will need a powerful workstation for running data-intensive tasks. 

In an interview Opens a new window with Insight Intelligent Technology Solutions, Stephanie Hallford, VP of the Client Computing Group at Intel reminds us that a strong telemetry capability helps us know the different types of personas and users in the organization. “Right now, a lot of companies have a hard time with just that telemetry data, really trying to understand the needs of those users and then providing the right device at the right time.”

While end users demand convenience, security, and simplicity, IT needs ease of provisioning, manageability and deployment that significantly reduces PC lifecycle management costs and desk-side visits. 

Undeniably, a comprehensive remote management platform is a powerful force multiplier for building adaptive workforces, allowing IT teams to be proactive and predictive before a crisis hits, and ensuring corporate fleets are more secure, updated and productive, irrespective of whether connected by LAN or wirelessly.  Remote management tools that go beyond the baseline pack an extra punch by meeting end-users and enterprise IT’s needs in the pandemic era and beyond.    

IT leaders evaluating enterprise fleet solutions should tap platforms that assure robust remote management capabilities that meet today’s evolving network and workforce needs and can grow and scale with the organization’s future needs.

Learn More: 4 Hardware-Based Endpoint Security Strategies for a Distributed Workforce 

3 Reasons Why IT Should Go Beyond DASH for Manageability

Though DASH standards have been in existence for more than a decade, DASH-compliant hardware offers only baseline capabilities for device management, which may be inadequate in today’s environment. Endpoint devices with DASH-only support offer fewer advanced features, as compared to say, a fleet outfitted with a comprehensive device management platform such as Intel vPro®, which builds deeper, end-to-end remote manageability and security support right into the hardware. For instance, out-of-band management over Wi-Fi is not possible with DASH-only clients, a big gap in full-time remote work environments where workers use personal Wi-Fi connections.  Here are the top reasons to invest in a more comprehensive device management platform that can scale and grow with the organization as well as adapt to the dynamic work environment:  

Learn more: 5 Ways IT Ops Can Lead Workforce Productivity Outcomes in 2020

1. Need for out-of-band support over Wi-Fi

In the new normal, home Wi-Fi networks have become mission-critical. According to data from Stanford University, 42% of the U.S. labor forceOpens a new window has switched to full-time WFH*. As per a PWC report, 72% of office workersOpens a new window want to work remotely at least a couple days in a week. With a majority of people working from home, Wi-Fi usage is expected to continue to soar. Comcast reported  a 40% surge in wireless data usage over Wi-Fi since early March*, spotlighting how typical Wi-Fi networks will become more prevalent. 

Though out-of-band management (OOBM) is available on devices that conform to DASH standards, it does not support remote access and management over Wi-Fi, a critical factor for supporting increasingly mobile, remote workforces. Consider this scenario: a device is down, and the OS is non-responsive or malfunctioning. How can the IT admin troubleshoot an infected device remotely, when it is shut down and not accessible via the network? Here’s where DASH standards fall short.  The Intel vPro platform supports wireless out-of-band management — a significant advantage for enterprises with largely remote, decentralized teams that connect over Wi-Fi networks.     

Intel has significantly doubled down on out-of-band management (OOBM) capabilities by extending remote KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) support over Wi-Fi, allowing IT to successfully diagnose devices that are compromised or frozen.

2. Need for robust cloud connectivity beyond firewalls  

The global pandemic challenged the long-standing assumption of network perimeter. With devices and data flowing outside the corporate boundaries, the risks of data theft from malware exploits that tend to get past firewalls has never been more acute. On top of that, the endpoint landscape has become more heterogeneous — workers use a mix of personal and corporate devices; endpoints like printers, IoT devices and ATMs extend beyond firewalls.  In challenging times, it is even more important for IT to get real-time visibility and control over remote endpoints that lie outside of the firewall. When working with a DASH-enabled system, IT lacks support to access and remediate issues in devices that are behind the corporate firewall.    

With Intel® Endpoint Management Assistant (Intel® EMA), IT teams can access devices beyond corporate firewalls via cloud and diagnose the issue.   

3. Reduce tech support costs & improve user productivity 

The work-from-anywhere trend has thrust endpoints into the spotlight as a core enabler for business continuity. IT leaders are under immense pressure to create positive end-user experience to sustain high levels of productivity and remote connectivity. In the shift to distributed work, IT decision makers (ITDMs) need to realize that modern endpoint management solutions are a core infrastructure pillar of the WFA movement. Per the Forrester studyOpens a new window , How PCs Will Drive The Future of Work, 54% of ITDMs believe improving PC performance can drive productivity gains.  Meanwhile, 49% of business leaders want to speed up detection and remediation of vulnerabilities, for instance malware that can add to security and maintenance costs. In the current scenario, complete endpoint management solutions can help ensure security and compliance across a wide mix of hardware and network configurations. A recent studyOpens a new window around the economic impact of the Intel vPro platform found organizations saved 7,680 security support hours annually due to reduced deskside visits and tech support*. 

IT teams need modern, cloud-enabled endpoint management capabilities with more secured hardware and firmware for an increasingly distributed and remote workforce.    

Learn More: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning PC Fleet Stability 

Closing Thoughts

In distributed work environments, demands on managing devices are only set to grow.  And the shift to hybrid work models makes an even more compelling case for ITDMs to leverage robust endpoint management solutions that provide an optimal PC experience for both – users and IT teams.  Looking further into the future, to deliver the best virtual work experience, IT leaders should weigh device management capabilities that go beyond the baseline, provide real-world benefits and cut down on operational and productivity issues when it comes to handling enterprise PC fleet.  


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*Sources: How PCs Will Drive The Future of Work, Forrester Consulting Study Commissioned by Intel, Jan 2020Opens a new window
Bitglass 2020 BYOD Report, July 2020 Opens a new window
Intel vPro® vs. AMD® Pro* Out-Of-Band Management by Concrete, March 2020 Opens a new window
Insight TechTalk | The Future of Work, June 2020 Opens a new window
Stanford Research Provides a Snapshot of a New Working-From-Home Economy Opens a new window
PwC’s US Remote Work Survey — June 25, 2020 Opens a new window
Wi-Fi Usage During COVID-19 Outbreak, April 2020Opens a new window
Economic Impact of the Intel vPro® Platform, Forrester Study Commissioned by Intel, 2018Opens a new window