How JumpCloud is reshaping IT operations for distributed teams
We are living in times of large-scale changes in the world of work. More companies every year are becoming remote and don’t even get us started on automation or the buzzword of 2023, AI. While top employees overwhelmingly prefer flexible work, the truth is most people don’t think about the network of innovators that make all these advancements and commodities in our lives possible.
That is why we created the “Let’s Talk Tech Series.” We wanted to fill the gap of content for remote workers and IT leaders and help prepare the people on the front lines of these changes.
Every month we will offer advice, opinions, and breaking news through interviews with the industry’s leading professionals.
We hope you enjoy this week’s issue and make sure to check out our Webinar next week about how the IT Asset Industry is changing for 2024 and what you need to do to prepare.
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This week’s guest: Tom Bridge
Tom Bridge is a seasoned IT professional, leader, and now Director of Product Management for Devices at JumpCloud. He spent 20 years in IT before joining JumpCloud, first as a help desk professional and field engineer for an education nonprofit in Washington DC, then as a Founding Partner at an IT consultancy.
During his time at the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), he quickly mastered complex IT environments, including leading the monumental transition from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X. Meanwhile, in his entrepreneurial journey while founding Technolutionary, he showcased his leadership and technical skills by providing end-to-end IT solutions for small and medium-sized businesses throughout the DC metropolitan area.
His expertise spans 15 years of managing Apple devices inside large organizations. Now at JumpCloud, Tom has played a vital role in advancing device and identity management strategies across different operating systems.
We spoke with Tom to gain insights into how, in his experience managing IT for small and large-scale organizations, cloud-based device management systems are transforming IT operations for distributed teams.
How can you enhance user experience with an open directory platform?
Tom’s interest in managing corporate devices comes from wanting to provide a great user experience. As he left his consulting role to join JumpCloud, Tom had to leave behind some great customer relationships. However, getting to work on the backend of the technologies he loves pushed him to change toward mobile device management.
At JumpCloud, he builds great customer experiences, especially nowadays when businesses have many things to care for –people, systems, and applications needing to be secured. “Our businesses have to manage so much. You have all sorts of things that are a core part of your environment, and there's no connective tissue between them. Jumpcloud fixes that problem,” he explains.
IT professionals have many authentications to deal with on a routine basis, which, although necessary, also hinders productivity. As an open directory platform, JumpCloud provides a seamless experience so users can manage all their devices without switching their context all the time.
JumpCloud connects all the identities, devices, and Management Solutions into a single platform by importing identities from HR systems or other directories like Okta or Google Workspace. This eases the friction around managing multiple login credentials and keeps data safe.
“Sometimes, by the time you've done your multi-factor authentication, you've forgotten why you were there in the first place,” Tom adds. This could be overwhelming for an IT professional with more devices and authentications to account for.
“The amount of productivity lost due to context switching between individual systems for an IT pro every given day is substantial. Why not make that a single platform? Why not call that an open directory platform so it's the directory of devices, users, applications, and resources in one common platform?”
How can you transform remote team performance with MDM?
While managing a remote team spread out throughout the United States and the world, Tom leverages the technologies he works on to ensure his team gets everything done. He starts Mondays by identifying the three most important tasks for the week.
“I have product managers in Colorado and South Carolina, as well as Hyderabad and Bangalore, India. You've got to be ready to follow the sun with these conversations and figure out where your overlap points are to ensure you're working with your team to get everything done,” he explains.
When asked how he incorporates JumpCloud into his workflow, Tom recommends JumpCloud Go, a phishing-resistant, passwordless credential you can use to log into any system with just a touch of your fingertip. It can pull the biometric data from your Touch ID system or the Windows Hello face scan and take you where you need to go.
The dilemma between security and speed can complicate organizational matters, but as Tom explains, “It's all about removing friction from where friction is present in their work cycle. The best way to do that is with single sign-on and device management so that you can be confident that you've got a great set of devices in your fleet, and you can report that data up through to your IT admin, and then your IT admin can take actions based on where you should and shouldn't be.”
“All of these things contribute to the remote work life cycle,” he says. “When we think about how important it is to support flexible work location and security, you've got to have the right kind of security for the right place. For example, JumpCloud’s conditional access policies help govern who can access what and where so that I can't access key data stores or our production environments from a device that isn't Jumpcloud managed.”
How will MDM solutions make the transition to cloud-based operations smoother?
Assurance is a crucial aspect of an organization’s relationship with its shareholders or customers. Companies want to make sure that these stakeholders won’t be affected in the case of compromised data.
“Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of the bad news that ‘Hey, we got hacked because we weren't doing something right,’” Tom explains. “You want to make sure that you've got a better experience for your customers and stakeholders in the world, and doing that requires mobile device management.”
“It's all about providing safety and security. IT folks are just interested in making sure that you get a good experience that meets the requirements of the organization, and those requirements are now subject to cybersecurity insurance premiums, as well as to upstream stakeholder and upstream vendor agreements that say that you must be so secure in order to do business with them.”
In order to streamline these operations, “IT admins are looking for a great experience for themselves as well in terms of managing everything from a common central plane, and JumpCloud is a great solution for managing users and devices and applications and resources from a single pane of glass.”
Patch management and remote command
Two of JumpCloud’s features, patch management and remote command, can help organizations avoid security threats by ensuring users update their devices and revoke access when necessary.
“The single most important action any IT administrator can take is keeping your device’s operating systems up to date. Most security incidents occur because of a missed patch interval,” Tom explains. “Jumpcloud can provide that level of security for admins with great experiences for the end users on Windows, Mac OS, and Ubuntu Linux.”
In Tom’s experience, most workers want to make sure their computer keeps working and are willing to do software updates, but most of the time, they don’t want to lose productivity by restarting their device. He adds that JumpCloud can help you do those things user-friendly so that employees can be aware that they have a deadline coming up.
Keeping current with operating systems and browser patches is enough for most organizations. “A lot of cyber attackers are going after the lowest common denominator, the people who aren’t paying attention, that have no protection, no patch management, and will pay anything to get their system back,” he says.
Patch management alone may not be enough to meet the specific requirements of organizations with unique data compliance needs or other complex considerations. However, “it’s good for most small businesses working remotely without a centralized IT to be able to use a common platform like Jumpcloud to handle that process,” he advises.
Why remote command features are essential
In distributed companies where file systems containing private information are downloaded onto multiple workstations, remote features can make a difference in a security breach. An organization’s ability to lock or wipe that device is critical, Tom points out.
“If you don't have a way to make sure that you can lock or wipe that workstation without having your hands on it, how are you going to handle what happens when somebody goes rogue or leaves a laptop in the back of a taxi?”
“How can you be confident in your ability to care for that data and say: ‘I've sent the erase command to that computer or the lock command, and if I get that machine back, maybe I'll unlock it and send it back out. Otherwise, if that machine never shows up again, are you safe? Is that data safe? If you don't have a way to do that, you're in a difficult situation,” he warns.
Tom explains that because remote work is so geographically dispersed, organizations risk never seeing their devices again. “In cases where you're not just going to be able to go over to that person's desk and take their computer, be aware that you need a full set of good assurance controls associated with each of your devices in the field no matter where they are.”
How can you manage the device lifecycle in distributed teams?
JumpCloud can enhance the employee experience at different points in the lifecycle. From onboarding to offboarding, mobile device management can impact an employee’s efficiency and relationship with your organization and simplify management tasks like vendor management.
Simplifying onboarding through MDM
“From an employee perspective, if you have a great onboarding experience with your new device, you are more likely to stay in that job after the first two weeks. There is a 60% increase in people who stay on if they've got a great onboarding experience, according to the Society for Human Resource Management,” Tom shares.
According to Tom, there are many great experiences for remote workers when they take a new Mac out of the box and go through automated device enrollment powered by JumpCloud. “They sign in with their JumpCloud username and password and then go directly to their desktop. They only ever use their JumpCloud password for everything. And that's a great experience for folks on the first day,” he says.
These features make the entire employee lifecycle management process simple for the organization and the employee. JumpCloud can import user data from HRIS systems like HiBob, Ceridian Dayforce, ADP, or similar to create and stage user identities ahead of time. When someone’s first day comes and they log into the JumpCloud user portal after logging into their Jumpcloud device, “you get full and passwordless access to all of those applications in your single sign-on environment, just based on who you are as a user,” Tom explains.
Painless offboarding for distributed teams
Similarly, when it’s time for an employee to leave an organization, the process can be quickly reversed by de-provisioning accounts or shutting off their access. “That's a great experience for the IT professional or the IT consultant who's involved because they know that as soon as they deactivate that person's Jumpcloud account, their access to those systems is revoked and gone,” he emphasizes.
In the case of offboarding, JumpCloud’s capabilities expand when you work alongside a solution like GroWrk. When an employee is ready to move on, you need to ensure that their device returns to your possession. Companies can send a box that goes back to GroWrk, and GroWrk turns that machine into the next person’s new laptop.
For Tom, this is a fascinating process “because that is a repeatable cycle of onboarding a new user, offboarding their equipment when they're done, and the whole thing is repeatable, and you don't have to worry about touching that machine as the business owner. It goes back to GroWrk, who handles it for you.”
Improving vendor management for distributed workforces
Managing different devices is great for the employee experience, but it can complicate procurement for your organization. As a result, many companies are struggling with having multiple vendors or various identity solutions, which can impact employee productivity and IT infrastructure.
“One of the things that I keep coming back to on this front is the concept of employee choice,” Tom explains. Giving them that choice allows them to be transparent about their technical requirements in order to do their best work. For some, it might be working on Apple environments, but for others, PCs are better suited for their tasks.
JumpCloud helps manage all these different systems by keeping all resources together in one platform, regardless of whether you’re using Jamf, Intune, Meraki Systems Manager, or Kanji. As Tom puts it: “Your whole company's assets are supposed to work in concert with one another. If you are constantly moving between systems to do those kinds of things, you are far afield from your goal.”
“Keeping your focus together on a single platform that supports multiple operating systems, multiple experiences, multiple resource types is gonna be critical to your IT efficiency and your employees' lifecycle and efficiency,” he adds.
Tom says it even offers mental bandwidth savings for IT managers “because you don't have to worry about ‘Does it work with blah?’ If it works with Jumpcloud, it works with whatever you're looking for.”
Wrapping up: The future of device management in 2024
As 2023 comes to an end, companies need to have their objectives set for the new year and stay ahead of the trends that will be shaping IT operations. The mobile device management space is already transforming how distributed teams work, and it is expected to grow further by 2024.
For Tom, one of the biggest things organizations need to do is assert to their stakeholders that only managed devices, or at least devices they know about, can access key resources. Today, this is possible for Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop environments. Next year, JumpCloud will bring that same concept of device trust certificate into mobility.
This means giving mobile device users the same passwordless experience that they get with JumpCloud Go. “If you have a personal iPhone or a personal Android, you can enroll that device in a fully private and respected enrollment that only provides just a little foothold for your IT Department to deliver applications into,” Tom explains.
JumpCloud’s roadmap for 2024 also includes Apple's new declarative device management framework, which allows organizations to specify a patch deadline and have the operating system enforce it entirely without going through additional steps.
“As we think about other places that we think device management is super important,” Tom adds, “it's all about the posture of your device when it goes through that authentication process. So look for us to bring posture management to Jumpcloud as well.”
Whether you are new to device management or considering switching to a more effective solution, GroWrk’s integration with JumpCloud will optimize all your device and access management requirements.
Book a demo today to learn more about how our partnership with JumpCloud can elevate the device management experience for globally distributed teams.