Now more than ever, enterprises are being challenged to ensure that all employees have the resources they need to work efficiently and securely, no matter where they’re located. Even before the global COVID-19 pandemic set in motion the shift to remote work at unprecedented scale, this wasn’t an easy task for IT administrators. Most struggled to deploy software patches and operating system updates in a timely manner, with as many as 59% lacking mature vulnerability management programs in late 2018, according to Ponemon Institute research.

Throughout 2020, these difficulties have been compounded by the fact that the majority of enterprise IT infrastructures weren’t designed with a predominantly remote workforce in mind. Over the short term, IT managers attempted to distribute content over virtual private networks (VPNs) that weren’t built to handle that much traffic. Or, they tried to leverage the content delivery capabilities of their preexisting endpoint management solution only to discover unpredictable costs and uneven service quality.

Currently, growing numbers of enterprises are exploring cloud-hosted modern device management solutions for the longer term. They’re attracted by the promise of greater flexibility, improved user experience and more reliable content delivery. And, they understand that being prepared for a wide variety of possible circumstances in an uncertain future is the key to resilience.

As decision-makers evaluate the potential costs and benefits of modern device management, they’ll need to compare these with what they’re currently spending on large-scale endpoint management overall. Some costs, such as servers and networking hardware, are fixed and relatively easy to estimate; others, such as labor or cloud storage for content libraries, are variable but still quantifiable. Yet, costs associated with increased security risk or reduced employee productivity also are of paramount importance even if they’re harder to pin down.

Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at the primary cost centers in enterprise endpoint management.

Physical and Virtual Infrastructures

Among the biggest economic drivers of many enterprises’ move-to-the-cloud efforts is the desire to reduce spending on hardware. Maintaining secondary servers or distribution points (DPs) on-premises means paying for the physical servers themselves, of course. But, you’ll also need to account for warranties, any applicable operating system (OS) and application licenses, management software, racks and mounting hardware and storage arrays. Although there’s enormous variability across individual products, the total one-time cost can easily exceed $50,000 per server for enterprise-grade deployments.

Power, Bandwidth and Networking

Numerous additional ongoing costs are associated with supporting endpoint management and content delivery with on-premises solutions. Data centers consume significant amounts of electricity, and power costs can add up fast. On average, each server will consume approximately 7,446 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year, which means it will cost $982 to power that server for one year at current utility rates. You’ll also need to provide that server with networking connectivity, the cost of which can vary depending on the speed and size of pipeline you maintain.

Cloud Services

If your enterprise leverages a mobile device or application management platform, you may have considered relying on its native content delivery capabilities. With the most popular system management platforms, however, content is distributed directly from the server to individual endpoints. This means you’ll pay egress charges for each and every read and write that takes place during content distribution. You may also incur additional costs for any cloud storage that the platform utilizes.

Labor

Recent survey data indicates the average annual salary of a network/IT administrator in the U.S. is $95,250, though highly skilled or exceptionally experienced professionals can earn as much as $133,500 per year. IT admins are responsible for a wide range of functions supporting technical infrastructure and endpoint computing within the enterprise, not just content delivery. Thus, any content delivery solution that saves their time not only reduces direct labor expenses, but also indirectly frees them to be more productive on higher-value tasks.

An IT administrative team typically spends its time managing and maintaining servers that deliver content (including major investments of time into deploying new hardware during refresh cycles). They’ll also devote varying amounts of time to troubleshooting bandwidth issues, content distribution failures and VPN congestion, depending on the reliability of the solution currently in place. And, they’ll spend time on subnet boundary management, as well as manually staging the content, managing transfers and tracking and reporting on software installations.

Operational Efficiency and End-user Productivity

Top-performing enterprises are 40% more productive than average performers, say researchers at the Harvard Business Review. Among the things that these companies have in common: they’re able to reduce “organizational drag”- the structures and processes that consume valuable time and keep people from getting their most important work done.

If performed inefficiently, content delivery has the potential to create massive amounts of organizational drag in today’s technology-dependent business environments. Ultimately, keeping critical business traffic flowing smoothly is essential to end user productivity — for everyone from the CEO to essential frontline workers. And, this includes ensuring bandwidths aren’t saturated and slowing down networks, as well as having an endpoint management solution that detects a critical lack of disk space on an endpoint device.

Our prediction is that modern device management will become a priority in enterprise computing environments in the next few months and years: the benefits are simply too great to ignore.