Over the next three years, more than 3 billion IP-enabled devices will flood the market – most of them increasingly powerful smartphones and tablets. By 2020, more than 50 billion IP-enabled devices will be in service – again, mostly consumer-grade mobile devices.
Businesses are embracing the “bring your own device” to work trend, as it cuts down on their IT capital and telecom costs. It also makes employees more productive: They’re more apt to answer emails and engage in work regardless of the hour when they have mixed use devices. However, allowing company data on employee-owned smartphones and tablets comes with a risk.
Enter mobile device management (MDM), new solutions for managing policies, access control, patching and data on company- and employee-owned devices. These emerging solutions (offered by more than two dozen vendors to date) promise to resolve the conflict between BYOD and company IT policy enforcement.
The troubles with MDM are that the technology remains immature, and not all offerings have the same features and capabilities. From a solution-provider perspective, the considerations are amplified by the need for profitability of on-premise software sales and the desire to deliver MDM as a managed service.
The MDM opportunity is prescient and growing. By some estimates, MDM is a $7 billion opportunity, which places it ahead of firewalls in terms of total addressable market. Solution providers tell Channelnomics that their customers are asking for MDM support – even though most haven’t heard of the technology. What they’re looking for are solutions that enable mobile devices to connect safely to their networks and for data to be stored and processed on smartphones and tablets securely.
As with all management solutions, no two pieces of technology and no two vendors are the same. Here are 5 considerations when looking at MDM solutions for resale, professional support and managed service delivery:
1) Operating Systems
When it comes right down to it, there are four mobile operating systems that need support: Apple iOS, Google Android (and its various flavors), Microsoft Windows Phone and Mobile Embedded, and RIM Blackberry. The challenge for solution providers is that mobile device adoption isn’t cleanly divided among these OSes. Mobility is truly a heterogeneous market. Unfortunately, not all MDM solutions support all operating systems – some just support one or two. Solution providers need to be cognizant of the operating system their MDM supports or else risk limiting the market potential.
2) Sales/Business Model
Solution providers must align their MDM choice with their current and future business model. Many MDM applications are sold as on-premise perpetual licenses. This is fine for the customer that wants to manage their own infrastructure and mobile fleet. However, the world is moving to service-based models, and solution providers may want solutions that can be delivered as managed or even cloud services. Only a few MDM vendors support service-based models.
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