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Dec 01, 2021

Client Management: The Key to Reduced IT Costs in Higher Education

Schools must reduce their IT costs to meet their budget shortfalls. Client management solutions offer one path to greater efficiency

By Doug Thompson, Technical Solutions Engineer, Tanium

Higher education IT departments face a wealth of new challenges. We wrote this article series to help them overcome those challenges. In part one of this series, we discussed how higher education institutions can defend against their new cybersecurity threats. In part two, we discussed how institutions can more effectively manage their unique networks.

In this final article, we’ll discuss how institutions can reduce their costs and deliver efficient IT functions with better client management. To do so, we’ll outline:

  • Why higher education IT groups face significant budget pressures.
  • How IT can decrease their costs and increase their efficiency.
  • The different ways Tanium can ease pressure on IT budgets.

Why higher education IT groups face significant budget pressures

Higher education institutions have faced budget issues for years, and these pressures have only increased over the last 12 months.

While their flat fee model has kept their revenue steady or in decline alongside student volume, institutions’ costs have increased dramatically. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated these trends and placed additional financial pressures on institutions.

  • Enrollment Is Further Down: Overall, higher education enrollment is down 2.9% year-over-year. New student enrollment appears hardest hit, with undergraduate enrollment down 4.5% and freshman enrollment down 13%.
  • Recovery Costs Could Be 4 -5x Higher Than Expected: In 2020, U.S. institutions requested $46.6 billion to cover their costs from lost revenue and reopening their campuses. Those estimates have now reached $183 billion.
  • Budgets Are Being Slashed: Over the past year, U.S. institutions have closed entire majors, released tenured faculty, and eliminated 300,000+ nonfaculty jobs, leading to a situation where “nothing is off limits” to meet budget reductions.

All of these financial challenges trickle down to budget pressures within the IT department, where security and operations teams must find a way to do more with less, and efficiently manage their infrastructure and secure it against the new wave of attacks.

Unfortunately, higher education IT groups are often inefficient for a few common reasons.

They often:

  1. Use a significant number of manual processes.
  2. Perform a high level of support for end-user performance issues.
  3. Operate multiple-point tools, each with its own licenses and teams.
  4. Maintain on-premises infrastructure to drive their management and security tools.
  5. Pay for end-user applications that are not being used enough to justify their expense.

To meet their budget pressures, IT groups must find a way to overcome these challenges, eliminate these efficiencies, and reduce their costs without sacrificing performance.

Here’s how they can do just that.

How higher education IT groups can reduce costs and increase efficiency with client management

To reduce their costs without harming performance, higher education IT groups must be able to perform key client management tasks. They must be able to:

  1. Streamline and automate as many of their processes as possible, in particular around routine, time-consuming tasks like patching, updating and configuring assets.
  2. Continuously monitor end-user performance data to identify issues and proactively resolve them across the network before they turn into reactive support tickets.
  3. Reduce the number of tools in the environment by replacing point tools that perform capabilities with a minimal number of comprehensive platforms.
  4. Replace legacy tools that require on-premises infrastructure with modern, distributed tools that leverage distributed, cloud-based, serverless architecture.
  5. Catalog end-user applications in the network, monitor the usage levels of each application license, and reclaim licenses that are not being used often (or at all).

To perform these actions, institutions must focus on a few core actions.

  • Improve Endpoint Visibility. Many of these inefficiencies occur because higher education IT groups do not have a clear picture of what’s happening in their environment and what it costs. They often lack visibility into their hardware, software, usage levels and performance issues — and gathering meaningful data on any of these points often requires its own time-consuming and expensive exercise.
  • Modernize and Consolidate Tools. In addition, institutions often have far more tools and end-user applications in their environment than they need. Each of these tools and applications has their own license fees, require their own infrastructure, and demand a high degree of manpower to operate or support.

Most of these challenges have the same root cause — many higher education IT groups continue to use legacy tools to perform client management. These legacy tools were developed to provide visibility and control over a small, static, and simple collection of endpoints that lived on-premises. They typically fail to deliver efficient or effective outcomes within today’s large, dynamic, diverse and distributed endpoints.

If an IT group cannot operate an efficient network and meet its budget pressures, it should consider replacing its legacy tools with modern endpoint management and security solutions that were designed specifically for today’s networks and their multitude of endpoints.

Solutions like Tanium.

How they can use Tanium to perform effective and efficient client management

With Tanium, higher education IT groups can quickly increase their efficiency, reduce their costs, and meet their budget pressures.

With Tanium, they can:

  1. Streamline and automate many endpoint management and security tasks, while reducing the time and effort required to perform remaining manual processes.
  2. Proactively monitor and resolve end-user performance issues, bring down Mean-Time-To-Repair (MTTR) and reduce support tickets while making them easier to resolve.
  3. Replace most of their endpoint management and security point tools with a single, unified platform that integrates well with other modern endpoint solutions.
  4. Replace hundreds or thousands of servers with a single distributed Tanium instance, an agent that can run from a 100% cloud-based, serverless deployment option.
  5. Develop a real-time catalog of hardware and software in the environment, continuously monitor their usage levels, and reclaim underutilized assets.

Tanium gives IT groups the core capabilities they need to perform these actions, increase their efficiency and reduce their costs.

  • Endpoint Visibility With Tanium. When organizations first launch Tanium in their environment, they typically find 10–20% more assets than they knew they had. Tanium then creates comprehensive real-time visibility into their hardware, software, usage levels and performance issues — through a single source of truth.
  • Modern, Unified Endpoint Management and Security With Tanium. In addition, Tanium consolidates most endpoint management and security capabilities into a single platform with a single pane of glass that is shared by both operations and security teams, and which significantly reduces the time and effort to perform most tasks.

With Tanium, one higher education IT group was able to:

  • Replace 4 – 5 endpoint tools with a single unified platform.
  • Save significant cost annually from license fees alone.
  • Substantially reduce the manpower required to perform critical tasks like patching, further reducing its overhead to manage and secure its assets.

With Tanium, higher education IT groups can improve their endpoint management and security capabilities while increasing efficiency, reducing costs and meeting their budget pressures.

Overcome your institution’s challenges with Tanium

In this series, we shared best practices on how higher education institutions can improve their cybersecurity practices, better manage their unique assets and networks, and reduce their costs — and how Tanium can hold the key to overcoming these challenges.

Catch up on the previous articles in this series:

  1. Endpoint Cybersecurity for Higher Education: Tackling Today’s Two Biggest Threats
  2. Client Management for Higher Education: Taking Control of Today’s Networks

Learn how to take control of your institution’s IT environment and create a real-time picture of your endpoints with Tanium’s Client Management solution.