Executive Q&A: The Internet of Things with Ian van Reenen, VP of Engineering, Endpoint Products

March 07, 2018  
IoT continues to be a hot topic in the media, but what does it really mean (if anything) to the MSP/ITSP community? Ian Van Reenen eats, breathes and lives all things endpoints so he is the perfect person to share his candid thoughts about IoT and the endpoint and why we should be pumped for patch management in the next of our MSPs Go for the Gold! Executive Q/A series. 

Q: Do you think IoT is finally taking hold (moving from hype to reality)? Can you talk about its growth and how it impacts MSPs/ITSPs?
A: In the consumer space, no it hasn’t, not beyond the early adopters. IoT has been slow to gain traction because consumers don’t see the value in bringing offline consumer devices, such as watches, online – at least beyond initial curiosity. IoT in the industrial space has taken off due to the proliferation of sense technologies in our environments. Now you can put a sensor on anything and learn about it. For example, electrical grids can see when equipment is coming online and automatically adjust. I truly believe the Industrial internet is the home for IoT and there it will have a positive impact on production and efficiency. 

There is little impact on MSPs/ITSPs with clients in the IT, finance, retail and other commercial markets. For those MSPs/ITSPs that support industrial providers, they may see some additional opportunities to support those clients with device management.  

Q: How does Endpoint Management keep the IoT in check?
A: IoT brings devices to life and Autotask Endpoint Management provides digital sensors to read and assess those devices. With Autotask Endpoint Management, you can ensure that devices are doing the right thing and receive instant notification in the event of a failure with the ability to either automate the resolution, or remote connect to the device to fix it. As more and more devices connect online, the risk of defects increases making it even more important to have a solution in place to monitor and manage them. 

Last month, Ian shared some important information about chip security issues and highlighted how critical it is to do patch management. He can’t stress enough how valuable automating patch management can be. Here’s why.  

Q: Can you explain the important role patch management plays in securing endpoints? 
A: Patch Management relates to the fixes the manufacturers push out to resolve issues with their product or provide new features. Patch Management ensures any vulnerability is addressed before it can be exploited. Reacting quickly is important as when, for example, Microsoft releases a patch, it’ll include a list of what it fixes and explain the vulnerability — essentially highlighting the possible weaknesses. This alerts hackers who will automatically start scanning for machines with those vulnerabilities. So, it’s extremely important to stay on top of these releases and regular and automated Patch Management is the best way to achieve this . 

Q: Why does Patch Management often get overlooked?  
A: It’s overlooked because it’s a pain to do properly. It introduces change which in itself is a risk, and will often require rebooting the device. Its importance is often undervalued by service providers because of poor visibility of the extent of the problem. With Autotask Endpoint Management, you can continually scan the devices to see if they’ve installed the updates or not and provide reports to the MSP. Patch Management can all be done automatically for them through policies built into Autotask Endpoint Management. 

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