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Mobile management morphs

Robert L. Mitchell | May 16, 2013
Customers are pushing the limits of the software -- asking it to manage and do many more things than it was originally created to do -- and vendors are happy to oblige.

Many tools also now enable automated provisioning and provide a protected space within which enterprise apps and data can reside. Many have also added network management features such as usage monitoring and reporting, and the ability to restrict downloads to Wi-Fi connections in a bid to control cellular data and roaming costs.

Vendors are differentiating in other areas as well. Symantec's mobile management suite includes anti-malware features. Citrix has re-launched its Zenprise acquisition under its XenMobile MDM brand name and enables virtualized access to the user's desktop applications through CloudGateway, which, along with XenMobile, is part of the vendor's Mobile Solutions Bundle. Finally, IBM, SAP and Symantec all offer tools for managing desktops and laptops, with consoles that enable access to both sets of management tools.

Many organizations are still looking for the right tools. Of survey respondents who said they support the use of smartphones and tablets for business use, just 45% said they had already deployed mobile management software, while 24% were either in the process of deploying or planned to deploy software within the next 12 months.

While 54% said the mobile management software they use meets most or all of their needs, 38% said it meets only some of their needs. One reason is that the tools are still maturing, says Guinn. "There are more than 50 different vendors out there and they're all fragmented. Many are acquiring features they don't have, so things are being bolted on."

What users choose -- and why
CenterBeam, a managed service provider, uses IBM's Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices, a Tivoli product that manages servers, PCs and mobile devices for all clients' machines from a single console.

Ultimately, IT needs a product that takes an holistic view of all endpoints, says Shahin Pirooz, executive vice president, chief security officer and CTO. CenterBeam manages many different types of customer endpoint devices in 49 countries. "Unified endpoint management is the strategy. The ability for us to set custom policies consistently for fixed and mobile endpoints is huge for us. If you separate PC and mobile into silos you end up with gaps."

Most important features Which mobile device management technologies / features do you use or plan to use? Hardware-level device management - 78% Security and compliance - 68% Mobile app management - 59% Secure container/sandbox -35% Network management - 33% Content management - 27% Source: Computerworld survey, April 2013, base 82

Ultimately, the large asset management vendors will "own this market," agrees Jim Guinn, managing director at consultancy PwC.

But the best-of-breed tools in the market remain popular because they tend to be first to market with innovative features and because most IT organizations aren't ready for an integrated approach, says Phil Redmond, an analyst with Gartner. "The majority of organizations don't manage endpoints in the same place. Only 20% [of Gartner's clients] are interested in managing PCs and mobile from the same group."


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