IT Operations

What Is Software Management?

Software management solutions help businesses detect, monitor, update and secure enterprise applications from one console — at scale. These solutions aim to improve software efficiency while reducing the cost and complexity of administering applications scattered across employee devices.

Even before COVID-19 forced millions of employees to work remotely, companies faced a huge software management challenge. The variety of off-the-shelf and custom software applications installed on company devices worldwide has soared and can number 1,000 or more. Most companies cannot monitor and control that many apps. What’s more, the majority of companies do not know how many devices are on their networks, where they are located and which applications are installed.

IT professionals say these visibility gaps make it difficult, if not impossible, to issue standardized software updates across a company. As a result, 53% of IT leaders fear their organizations could be unnecessarily exposed to cyberattacks that exploit improperly updated applications, a 2020 Tanium study found.

How the best software management solutions work

Traditional tools struggle to keep pace with the burgeoning number of apps and devices. But modern offerings have emerged to help IT pros seize control.

The best solutions have lightweight, distributed architecture that allows continuous scanning of devices across the enterprise. As software management tools scan the IT environment, they also push out new software updates quickly and easily — without overloading networks, sparking outages or diminishing performance.

[Read also: Nine ways to control your endpoint software environment]

Leading solutions avoid the time-consuming and costly proliferation of older software management approaches. Instead, they offer visibility and control through unified platforms. IT staff manage myriad software applications from one console, otherwise known as a single “pane of glass.”

The benefits of modern software management solutions

Strong software management tools improve IT’s control over the application landscape. But the best systems include a number of additional advantages.

  • Improved visibility. Leading tools analyze software versions on every device to identify those needing patches and updates. According to a Tanium report about improving IT resilience, 80% of CIO and CISO leaders believe poor visibility into software assets has led to a failure to update critical security features on all devices.
  • Standardized environments. Enterprise IT can be chaotic and disorganized, creating silos of data and applications that are difficult to connect. Bringing applications together through a unified platform makes it possible to install even the largest software patches and installations in hours, with little network strain or risky downtime.
  • Streamlined software deployment. Leading software management tools also save IT teams time, energy and angst by automating manual processes. They offload updates to employees through self-service capabilities. Admins can focus instead on automating and customizing the larger workflows of a company. And leaders can generate reports themselves rather than requesting them from IT teams.

When evaluating options, consider how a tool performs in the most demanding and complex operational environments. Make sure a tool can support future growth. Also consider the level of customer service a vendor provides. Some tool providers offer levels of white-glove, hands-on support that out-of-the-box offerings do not.

Make sure a tool can support future growth

Finally, research when a solution was actually developed. If it emerged before the advent of cloud computing, keep in mind that many vendors bolted cloud capabilities onto legacy applications. Older tools do not always integrate well with current software applications.

Software management solutions are no longer a nice-to-have. As applications, devices and cyberthreats proliferate, finding comprehensive and efficient solutions remains critical, particularly in the new work-from-home normal. With the right tools, IT executives can be ready for any situation the modern workplace throws at them.

David Rand
David Rand is a business and technology reporter whose work has appeared in major publications around the world. He specializes in spotting and digging into what’s coming next – and helping executives in organizations of all sizes know what to do about it.