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Four Questions IT Should Answer Before Selecting Mobility Management Solutions

The mobile landscape is evolving rapidly. Mobile and cloud are providing the foundation for the next 15 to 20 years of IT evolution. This shift is on the order of magnitude of the move to client server computing and the introduction of the Internet. The mobile landscape has created new operating systems (OS) for tablets and phones but will also change the OS for next generation laptops and desktops. In fact, this new foundation software will run across a wide range of connected devices that span phones to automobiles. This in turn will change what applications and services will run on the next generation infrastructure.

The move to mobility requires a new enterprise mobility management (EMM) infrastructure. Consider this as creating a new generation of Tivoli or BMC Software designed to work in a “mobile plus cloud” world. Like the mobile device and application landscape, the enterprise mobility management landscape is also rapidly evolving. There are several components of mobility management, including mobile device management, mobile app management and mobile security. The number of components and breadth of coverage vary by vendor. There are numerous vendors and several deployment mobiles including on-premise, cloud and hybrid deployments. With such a complex landscape, how do you decide which solution is right for your company? There are at least five questions that IT leaders should answer as a business looks to add EMM:

1) Do you have the resources to deploy and manage EMM? While a mobile management solution is critical to the operations health and security of the business, many firms don’t have the IT resources required to evaluate, install and manage EMM solutions. A company should ask itself what IT skills it has and if those resources would be better spent on other projects such as managing a transition to a virtualized environment or building new mobile applications. A company should consider using a cloud EMM service to maximize the utilization of IT resources.

2) Do you need to shift expenses from CAPEX to OPEX? On-premise EMM solutions require buying servers and licenses. In contrast, a cloud-based EMM shrinks upfront costs and allows you to purchase EMM for a monthly fee. It also has the hidden benefit of allowing you to pilot a solution with a subset of users before committing to a full implementation. Cloud based solutions also allow you to seamlessly scale from dozens, to hundreds, to thousands of users without adding additional IT staff.

3) How will you support the rapidly changing OS landscape? Mobile was easy when it was a homogenous highly manageable BlackBerry environment. Apple changed this but the market continues to fragment. According to Nielsen, 48 percent of US smartphone owners use an Android operating system phone. Nearly a third (32.1%) of smart phone users have an Apple iPhone, and Blackberry owners represent another 11.6 percent of the market. with Windows Phone coming online and numerous iterations in Android. On-premise EMM solutions require IT to manage these updates while Cloud-based EMM solutions offer near instant updates as new versions of mobile operating systems are released.

4) How will I handle application distribution and management? Several years ago, mobile management solutions largely supported device management. However, EMM solutions, whether on-premise or cloud-based, must evolve to support centralized management for mass deployment of applications and Over-the-Air (OTA) updates. An EMM should provide a corporate application store/catalog that allows IT to display and control what corporate applications are available for downloaded to devices.

Companies realize that mobility must become an integral part of business strategies, not just a series of random devices. A business must master both the technology choices as well as business-processes changes to take advantage of the anywhere-access to data that mobility enables. To embrace this ubiquitous computing vision, IT must have policies and tools in place to manage mobility. IT needs to build an enterprise mobile-management strategy to reduce costs, minimize risk, and provide a migration path for technology changes.

This article was originally posted by Maribel at Lopez Research.  You can see other blog entries here.

One Comment

  1. Posted May 24, 2012 at 15:37 | Permalink

    Maribel brings up some good points here. Resources and expenses will grow and shift, while more applications must be delivered and managed across a growing array of OS targets. I’m with Symantec, and I think it’s primarily up to us vendors to address the second two issues. The products we provide must maintain pace with the OS vendors and their capabilities so that our customers don’t have to worry about it. They will still need to make strategic decisions when it comes to developing custom applications and what systems they can reasonably support, but we should protect them from the fear of the standard third party stuff. As for the required resources and expenses, the best a company can do is to leverage as much of their existing infrastructure for mobile as they can. Remember that it has taken a couple of decades for the current ecosystem of technology to develop around PCs — everything from inventory and patch management to service desk and workflow. We don’t have the luxury of time to solve all of these problems uniquely for mobile, but if we can leverage integration and common tools across all of these new endpoints, we have a chance of keeping costs reasonable.

    Brian Duckering

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