Mobile device management – where cloud services and mobility combine

Enterprise mobility is a central part of doing business and cloud-based management solutions can help the IT department handle the additional complexity that mobile devices create.


Enterprise mobility is now a central part of doing business. Employees are increasingly using mobile devices as business tools to access corporate data and applications, and to transact all manner of business activity.

Computing devices are also being used over mobile networks in growing numbers. Laptops and computing devices with new form factors, such as tablets and netbooks, are keeping employees connected when they are on the move and outside the office.

Enterprise IT organisations face an on-going challenge in securing, managing and supporting these connected mobile and computing devices over cellular networks.

Enterprise mobility is complex and fast moving. There is a variety of operating systems (OS), device types, applications and networks. IT departments today have no mature mobile management standards or processes to call upon.

Nonetheless, because these devices are now being used more pervasively by employees, businesses must be able to manage and secure corporate data and applications on them in the same way as they do on other assets, such as PCs. This includes providing and updating enterprise applications, servicing and supporting end-user devices, and ensuring the security of the devices and the critical corporate data on them.

Similar to PC infrastructures, enterprise IT organisations need a robust, secure and seamless infrastructure for enforcing corporate IT policies and managing connected corporate devices through their entire lifecycle — from procurement and provisioning through on-going management and refresh/replacement.

Recently, Mformation commissioned a survey of CIOs1, the results of which highlight a number of enterprise mobility management and security gaps:

  • 76% of CIOs say employee-owned mobile data devices cause security headaches.
  • 78% of CIOs don’t know what devices are connected to the network.
  • 77% don’t know what data is on them.
  • 1 in 3 can’t even track enterprise-supplied data.
  • Only 56% of CIOs are able to secure employee mobile data devices remotely.

Although mobile device management (MDM) solutions have been promoted into enterprises for a number of years, this survey indicates gaps in the management capabilities of most enterprises. The solutions that have been deployed do not cover all of the device types in use by employees including the growing population of employee-owned devices.

There are a number of overlapping reasons for this problem. First, mobility is a specific area of competence, which few IT departments have in-house. Second, as mentioned, due to a high degree of complexity, enterprise mobility does not follow standard IT rules. Finally, the mobility space is both fast-moving and fragmented, and will continue to be so for some time to come.

Consequently, enterprises have found it difficult to keep their in-house solutions current and up to date through the last years. Indeed, one of the points brought out in the CIO research was that IT organisations have been finding it difficult to apply the necessary resources to ensure that their enterprise mobility solutions encompass all of the necessary devices and services.

At the same time as this rapid growth in mobility, a trend toward more cloud-based solutions is occurring generally in the enterprise. Cloud-based solutions bring a number of generic benefits including: providing a more flexible and predictable cost model, allowing IT to focus on core business solutions, enabling companies to set improved performance and quality-of-service outcomes, and providing the general flexibility to grow and expand the cloud services over time.

Subsequently, cloud-based MDM solutions hold the potential to help the enterprise overcome a number of specific mobility challenges.

The cloud finally offers the ability to implement a powerful MDM solution, delivered by the likes of Managed Service Providers (MSPs), which most enterprises today already use for a variety of needs. There are numerous advantages to this approach. First, the enterprise gets the service levels of an MSP as well as the specialised functionality of a dedicated solution provider. Cloud-based solutions leveraged via an MSP can inject some maturity into the category and will force some of the MDM solution providers to align with more IT protocols and processes.

Similarly, enterprise mobility strategies can reach the same level of management maturity as other aspects of the IT infrastructure. In fact, taking a cloud-based approach to MDM ensures that the solution is kept current with all of the changes as new devices, OS versions and services come to market.

In such a fast-moving and fragmented wireless market place, this is an absolutely critical benefit. All combined, the benefits of cloud-based MDM ensure that enterprises can have a more comprehensive IT management strategy encompassing a much broader range of devices, applications and networks.

1. Vanson Bourne, a research-based technology marketing consultancy, surveyed 200 CIOs from the United States and 100 from the United Kingdom working in organisations that employ more than 3,000 people.

Todd DeLaughter is CEO of  mobile devicne management software supplier Mformation

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