A Guide to Selecting a Mobile Device Management Solution

A Guide to Selecting a Mobile Device Management Solution
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As with most infrastructure changes, implementing MDM may not be easy or inexpensive. The benefits clearly outweigh the costs, however.

According to Ryan Cole, director of operations and engineering at mobile tech consultancy Avema Critical Wireless, the field of mobile device management (MDM) sprang up in late 2009.

Executives toting iPhones were telling their IT staff to find a way to make an exception, to figure out some way to get their iOS device supported on the company network alongside the usual BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) deployment. For Cole, though, it was clear that these “exceptions” would soon become the norm.

“The problem with more consumer-facing devices — Android, iPhone, Windows devices to some extent — is that there isn’t a BES equivalent from each of these vendors you can set up in your local environment to get control,” says Cole. “They’re not designed to behave that way.”

However, they can be made to behave that way, which is why MDM exists. With smartphone adoption now nearly universal throughout the enterprise world, MDM has passed from being an occasional favor for executives to being at the heart of the entire “consumerization of IT” movement. Little more proof is needed than Research in Motion’s devastating 2011 sales decline and the company’s subsequent “refocusing” on its core business, the enterprise market. According to May 2012 stats by IDC, Android phones accounted for 59% of mobile OS units shipped in Q1, followed by iOS at 23%.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry accounted for 6.4%. Avanade reported early last year that 60% of companies are now “adapting their IT infrastructure to accommodate employee’s [sic] personal devices” and 88% “report the use of consumer technologies in the workplace.” As such, BlackBerry’s proprietary path is no longer feasible for the majority of enterprises, leaving MDM as a near necessity for any company looking to empower its workforce without sacrificing control in the process.

William Van Winkle has been a full-time tech writer and author since 1998. He specializes in a wide range of coverage areas, including unified communications, virtualization, Cloud Computing, storage solutions and more. William lives in Hillsboro, Oregon with his wife and 2.4 kids, and—when not scrambling to meet article deadlines—he enjoys reading, travel, and writing fiction.

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