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How to choose the right enterprise mobility management tool

Robert L. Mitchell | Jan. 24, 2014
Consider what's 'good enough' for what you need right now -- but don't neglect the future.

Users should be able to bring their own devices to work and have them comply with policy in a way that's not onerous to them, says Borg. And if your organization doesn't have the expertise to build a mobile support team that can rise to the challenge of supporting a full-featured EMM service, there are cloud-based services and managed service providers that can do the job.

Having an MDM that can change the policy of a device as it crosses from one country to another is one of those great features that organizations don't know they need yet. Daniel Eckert, managing director, PwC

In fact, says Eckert, cloud-based EMM is one of the most important considerations for his enterprise clients. The others are flexible pricing structures, integration capabilities and mobile application management features.

User interface design is the next arms race, Borg says. "Users expect solutions to be easy to use, intuitive and to have basic capabilities supplied through self-service, with help just a push button or call away. It should be as easy to use as Angry Birds."

Converging endpoint management
Having a multiplatform strategy means more than making sure an EMM suite supports all flavors of mobile devices and mobile operating systems. While mobile is currently handled as a separate ecosystem from desktops and laptops, as it becomes a core IT function the worlds are starting to converge. Some products already let you manage all mobile and desktop device types from a single management console.

"There never should have been a separate mobile management suite," says Lopez. The traditional management suites missed the boat early on. Now, she says, they're extending those capabilities and pulling mobile back in.

"Eventually, mobile management will cease to be a separate thing in the enterprise IT world," Winthrop says, much in the same way that wireless LANs became just another piece of the network management infrastructure. "You'll see the same with mobility as time progresses."

For larger enterprises, says Borg, "The top-level consideration should be integration across the tools." A single pane of glass, or unified management layer, is a distinct advantage for administrators, but it's also easier for the end user if they have one self-service place to go for all of their endpoint devices. Vendors with that capability include AirWatch, BoxTone, IBM and SAP.

Future proofing
While mobile device management is mature, other elements of EMM are still evolving. "Now people are all crazy about mobile application management, but the next thing will be context, and content and data management," Lopez says.

Most enterprises start by controlling the device, and then add secure access to business contacts, calendar and email — along with file sync capabilities — to solve what DiSabato calls "the Dropbox problem."


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