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Moving mobile management into the cloud

Pat Brans | Jan. 4, 2013
Increasing numbers of business applications are helping mobile workers get things done in the field using tablets or smartphones, and more consumer applications support common business processes for mobile workers. More workers are using their own devices, and more people rely on multiple devices to access the same set of applications, depending on where they are and what they're doing.

IT departments that select cloud-based MDM frequently get users up and running hours after they sign up for the service. Day-to-day operations are minimal, platform upgrades are taken care of and the best providers regularly adding support for new devices.The only thing subscribers have to do is understand how to configure device management through the provider's web-based interface.

Organisations with transitional staff find cloud-based MDM offerings particularly attractive, because they can easily scale both up and down as required. Of course each provider has different upper limits on the number of devices supported, so subscribers wishing to avoid unpleasant surprises should find out what this limit is beforehand.

The on-premise option

Because IT directors of large organisations support a variety of businesses over a vast area, many choose MDM platforms sold for operation on premise, but which are also offered as a cloud service. One such company is Telefonica. "IT departments should look for vendors that provide a variety of deployment options including on-premise and cloud of all types to ensure the solution grows with the needs of their different business users, while at the same time providing some consistency in the service," says its group CIO Phil Jordan.

Perhaps the most important benefit of cloud-based MDM is that if you become dissatisfied with one provider, you can switch to another with relative ease; and if you ever decide you no longer need MDM, you can simply switch it off.

"The reason cloud-based MDM works for us is we aren't making a big investment in a platform we don't think we'll need later," admits the London Borough of Lambeth's Robert Miller.

"We also recognise that the market is changing very fast. Because vendor offers are evolving, by buying a cloud service, we can easily change providers without having to decommission expensive infrastructure."

Tellingly, Miller views MDM as a poor solution for BYOD, because most people are against the idea of having the enterprise manage their personal systems.

"I don't want the corporate MDM system putting controls on my personal device, and switching off function I want," he says. "Some corporations have bought up several thousand MDM licenses, but in the end there was very little take-up, because none of their employees wanted MDM for their own devices."


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