Managing Mobile Devices in the Enterprise
Author(s): John Almasy, Posted on October 28th, 2011
Organizations are experiencing increased demand from employees to offer enterprise support for a wide array of evolving endpoint devices, including multi-platform smartphones and tablets. These diverse mobile devices are being used for both business and personal purposes, which presents challenges in supporting and managing the devices given a workforce who expects to conduct business from anywhere, anytime, on any device. Organizations are looking for ways to exploit the features and benefits that mobility has to offer, without introducing rigid policies that do not foster innovation and business growth. To address the challenges of managing mobile devices, enterprises today are using Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions.
MDM solutions provide functionality needed to manage mobile devices throughout their lifecycle, including the ability to perform tasks such as device provisioning, asset inventory, policy enforcement, device lock/wipe, device encryption, password management, remote diagnostics, operating system and application (although sometimes limited) management. As pointed out in a recent blog post by Burak Bilir, Taming the Mobile Application Portfolio in your Enterprise, Mobile Application Management (MAM) solutions deliver application management functionality not found in many MDM products. Administrators will utilize MDM solutions to centrally administer a growing number of mobile devices, which can include both corporate-owned and a growing number of employee-owned devices (“bring your own device”). To effectively manage an increasingly complex mobile environment, it will be important to choose a MDM vendor and deployment method that meets the organization’s specific needs.
The MDM market is rapidly evolving and there are many vendors/products available to address enterprise requirements. Organizational requirements, workforce characteristics, and mobility roadmap information should be used to choose an MDM product. With the growing numbers of employee-owned devices being used in the enterprise, support of both enterprise- and employee-owned devices should be included when choosing a product. Most MDM vendor solutions offer both on-premise solutions (installed in the customer environment), as well as delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS) and hosted by a provider in the cloud. On-premise solutions provide a high level of control of the infrastructure, but require a higher level of IT expertise, additional upfront investment and ongoing maintenance of the MDM infrastructure. SaaS solutions require no upfront capital expense (using an on-demand model) and shift infrastructure management to the provider, but may not be suitable for organizations with specific security requirements. SaaS solutions also offer benefits of infrastructure redundancy, predictable costs, and defined SLAs. There is no “one size fits all” when evaluating a MDM solution, so a thorough due diligence should be performed to evaluate pros/cons before choosing.
Mobile device technologies are changing rapidly and MDM vendors will need to incorporate new functionality into their products as the capabilities emerge. It will be important for clients to choose a solution that provides multi-platform support and the agility necessary to leverage new capabilities as they emerge. Choosing an innovative vendor will ensure that product capabilities will evolve as new form factors, platforms, and functionality are introduced. We believe that many organizations will consider SaaS MDM solutions – while also keeping an eye to MAM solutions as they unfold – to quickly deploy scalable MDM services, reduce upfront costs, and shift their focus and resources to more strategic initiatives that enhance business value.