How large is your company’s IT infrastructure? How many devices and assets are attached to it? As large as it was yesterday, it’s probably larger today — and will be still larger tomorrow. This is compelling organizations to embrace device and asset monitoring under a “single pane of glass,” meaning via a unified, “single console” view of their entire network to enable unified endpoint management (UEM).

Part of what’s driving the increase in the number and distribution of IT assets is the move to remote and hybrid work. An associated factor is the growth of new devices, especially Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints:

  • The Ponemon Institute found that 65% of companies said IoT/OT (operational technology) devices were among the least secured assets in their infrastructure.
  • 50% said attacks on those devices had increased.
  • Only 29% claimed they had an inventory of all IoT/OT devices.

The dangers of tool sprawl 

Imagine a scenario where your organization has a complex technology infrastructure running multiple software products on a wide range of devices. For each application or asset in that stack or network, there may be a standalone monitoring tool. 

But this requires IT teams to constantly hopscotch between different tools to monitor all those endpoints and (hopefully) identify and remediate risks before they’re critical.

Beyond the problem of monitoring gaps, how big an issue is “tool sprawl”?

  • A recent survey by 451 Research found that 39% of respondents were using 11 to 30 monitoring tools to keep track of their application, infrastructure and cloud environments.
  • 8% percent were juggling between 21 and 30 tools.

This creates knock-on problems:

  • Excessive monitoring tools can lead to alert fatigue and lack of context; some teams must prioritize over 1,000 alerts per day, so many get ignored. 
  • Correlating data between tools can be challenging, delaying resolution.
  • Purchasing and licensing multiple tools may get costly, and many have features that never get used. 

In this article, we'll explore:

The meaning of “single pane of glass” in UEM

With its comprehensive insights and unified view of data, “single pane of glass” IT asset monitoring can prove invaluable for IT teams.  By collecting and displaying data from multiple sources on a single dashboard, it helps IT teams reduce the time needed to identify problems, maintain compliance with industry regulations andgain visibility into their environment. 

As well as making it easier for IT teams to stay on top of their assets, this technology also provides valuable insights that wouldn’t be available through traditional analytics tools. Those insights make single pane of glass asset monitoring an essential resource for any organization looking to maximize performance across its entire IT infrastructure.

Plugging the gaps and other benefits of single pane of glass monitoring for UEM

It’s challenging for IT to bring different types of devices into compliance and make them productive for all users. If you’re using multiple monitoring tools, this can potentially allow for compliance gaps. For example:

  • Let’s say that kiosks for frontline workers are managed with tool A.
  • But devices for knowledge workers are managed with tool B. 
  • If you’re using separate tools to manage these different types of endpoints, gaps can occur, which can allow risks to go undetected.  

So, by not having a single, unified view, an IT admin runs the risk of having devices with critical data that are highly vulnerable. That’s because they’re not up to date from a cybersecurity standpoint or compliant with regulations and standards — which can impact the entire environment. 

Once you have a unified view where all devices and assets are visible, you’ll spot any gaps and can measure them against your complete asset management environment. You’ll rest easy knowing that all endpoints have been discovered, properly managed and secured.  

Let’s dig down further into the major benefits of single pane of glass monitoring in UEM.

Less toggling, more managing! 

As we’ve said, single pane of glass monitoring for UEM provides IT teams with comprehensive monitoring of their entire IT estate. That visibility makes it easier to quickly identify and respond to endpoint issues, while also helping maintain compliance and providing greater visibility into performance and usage. In other words, making it easier to monitor the system and its assets means we’re better able to manage it.

Even the most expert IT admin can find it frustrating to toggle through a range of tools to monitor endpoints. By consolidating different tools into one unified platform, IT teams can therefore not only save time (and headaches) in identifying and troubleshooting problems, but also gain actionable insights into the way devices are being used and ensure that compliance standards are met. 

Providing better system security

Solid security — whether it’s at the local bank or across your IT infrastructure — relies on visibility, on what you can see. Because it’s what you can’t see that hurts you. Remember that statistic about how only 29% of companies have full IoT/OT inventories? What kind of stress must IT teams at the other 71% have to contend with?

So, what may be the most important benefit of putting your entire network under a single pane of glass, meaning you have unified visibility into every connected asset? Now, you can secure those endpoints and eliminate the gaps where risk may fester.

Without a single pane of glass monitoring to track every asset and potential vulnerability, IT and security teams are constantly cycling through different tools. It’s like trying to take in the Grand Canyon using just coin-op tourist telescopes: you’re never able to step back and see all the risks around you holistically.

Streamlining compliance

Compliance becomes easier under a single pane of glass, meaning your IT team can now be sure they’re meeting industry regulations and security standards such as HIPAA, GDPR and CCPA across every monitored endpoint. It’s why UEM has gained traction in industries like healthcare, logistics and others where there are important data to protect or supply chains to monitor.  

With consolidated monitoring, it’s far simpler for an organization to meet compliance requirements and keep its systems in step with any regulatory or policy changes.

Reduced costs and easier onboarding

There are training costs and time required for your IT or security teams to familiarize themselves with a medley of different monitoring tools or stay updated when new features are rolled out. 

Moving to a single pane of glass monitoring solution — especially one with an intuitive UI and UX — means an organization isn’t saddled with those multiple (and repetitive) outlays. It’s also much easier for new hires in IT and security to get onboarded to a single dashboard, rather than having to get trained on a slew of monitoring products.

Enhancing digital employee experience (DEX)

For many employees, the Everywhere Workplace is practically anywhere. So, delivering a consistent DEX is important to keep them engaged and productive, regardless of their location. Part of that consistency involves giving them access to the resources and tools they need, and also maintaining the controls the company requires to limit and secure that access.

Don’t forget the fact that a UEM platform reduces the stress and workload on your IT team. Their DEX matters, too, since they’re struggling with burnout at even higher rates than the average office worker: Ivanti research found nearly 1 in 3 IT professionals reported having a colleague quit due to burnout.

Better alignment for security and IT teams

It's imperative for an organization’s cybersecurity posture to have alignment between the IT and security teams. So, you can imagine how forcing everyone into using a host of different monitoring tools might complicate that. One team may be more up to speed on a particular tool than the other team, or the raft of tools leads to fragmentation of effort since it’s hard to get everyone to use multiple tools in a coordinated manner.

Adopting a single pane of glass monitoring solution helps improve alignment and collaboration between these teams. Since both are using the same single pane of glass dashboard, they’re sharing a single source of truth that eliminates friction and confusion. 

How can you fight tool sprawl right now?

You may not yet be able to deploy a single pane of glass monitoring solution. Fear not! There are best practices you can follow today to alleviate the pain points caused by monitoring tool proliferation. At the same time, these practices set a good foundation for eventual migration to that unified solution.

1. Review your existing monitoring tools

First, evaluate your current monitoring tools to understand how well they’re really performing. Are there monitoring gaps or wasteful overlaps? How well do they perform? Are they worth the time and money you’re spending on them? 

This also reveals what sort of data consolidation will be needed for an eventual migration to a single pane of glass monitoring solution. That helps you project the costs and time involved, and you may be able to leverage existing integration points to help minimize migration efforts.

2. Consolidate those tools

Is there a platform available that houses some of the monitoring features you’re already using with different point solutions? Maybe it’s time to consider adopting a platform like that, if it solves multiple issues for you and offers cost advantages. 

If you’re using multiple tools from a single vendor, it can be smart to press them to help you out by scripting APIs to provide better integration of those tools. Just be sure that you don’t have too many outliers who can’t fit into a particular integration ecosystem.

3. Improve processes and training

It’s not just about the technology. Take a look at your processes to see if they’re clearly defined and serve to remove improvisation and “winging it” from IT resolution. Make sure your people are properly trained in how to not only use monitoring tools, but in the workflows you’ve designed to optimize their use. Develop focused policies on how to use the monitoring tools you’ve already got in hand and educate teams on them.

Better processes and better-trained people are central to technology success in any context. Putting them in place now will help ensure down-the-road adoption of a single pane of glass monitoring solution is a success.

4. Break down data silos

Another consequence of tool sprawl? There’s a huge flow of data being generated from the monitoring of networked devices, but the data is often locked into department- or application-specific silos. Breaking down these silos means you can maximize the value of all that data through analytics.

Be forewarned that teams often get possessive about their data, so senior leadership should lead the way in promoting this collaboration. And as with the other practices we’ve preached, mandating data consolidation today will give your future single pane of glass solution a head start.

Moving to single pane of glass monitoring 

It only seems daunting for IT and security teams accustomed to using multiple monitoring tools to get started with single pane of glass monitoring. But when taken one step at a time, it’s a straightforward transition whose dividends are worth the effort.

1. Evaluate existing tools

We’ve covered this above: evaluate current monitoring tools so you know what type of data consolidation will be needed for the migration. This helps determine the costs and time involved, and your teams may be able to leverage existing integration points to help minimize migration efforts.

2. Evaluate single pane of glass solutions

It’s the old cliché: “Not all solutions are created equal.” The right solution will integrate seamlessly with your existing IT architecture so data moves freely, and will have scalability and flexibility to meet changing requirements. Also, don’t neglect checking out the track record and user sentiments about the provider, especially when it comes to the quality of their customer support. 

Just because a provider promises they’ll deliver a true single pane of glass solution, it doesn’t mean the product will check every box on your requirements list. If they’re a viable and trustworthy vendor, they’ll bend over backwards to demo how the solution will perform in your environment.

3. Test and optimize

Your team should have the opportunity to test the solution before purchase and have explicit discussions with the provider’s support team on how to customize it as needed, to suit your specific requirements. Post-adoption, monitor usage metrics to make any adjustments needed to extract optimal performance.