As the Director of Technology at Fiberlink, some of my activities are centered on the evaluation of potential technology partners and solutions. The primary goals of this activity are to understand where Fiberlink might leverage a partner technology into the product strategy or to understand a competitive solution.
In recent months I have spent quite a bit of time evaluating Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions. MDM solutions are typically client/server technologies targeted at Smartphones and handheld devices. They collect hardware and software inventory information and provide capabilities to control various aspects of the device. Without going into a ton of detail, MDM solutions are quickly becoming an important part of corporate mobility management strategies. A key value point is the ability to collect a very diverse set of information about deployed devices, ranging from a simple hardware inventory to more interesting attributes like geo-location information and data usage statistics. The richness and value of this data that these solutions collect can be incredibly powerful when presented in a meaningful manner to the people who need to see it.
This is where many of the leading solutions may lack key capabilities. Many of the MDM solutions that I have evaluated present data in a basic form and to a narrow constituency consisting of Systems Management personnel that have direct access to the solution.
The value of the data is attenuated when critical organizations and personnel that need it do not have direct access to the data, or worse yet, do not know the data is even available. Think about the organizations outside the traditional Systems Management teams that could utilize and leverage the data. For example, the OS and software version information that the Security Analyst views to understand vulnerability and threat risk could be used by the CSO to determine employee and contractor compliance with acceptable use policies. It could also be used by the CFO to be more proactive on cost management by being able to spot adverse usage patterns before the carrier provides sends the bill, and it could help the Mobile email administrator quickly determine the mix of iPhones, Androids and Blackberries that are accessing the email servers.
When evaluating and researching solutions that create this type of data, the richness of the reporting and ease of providing the information to critical business functions must be key selection criteria. There is no question that all the leading MDM solutions can provide a rich data set, but the value of this data can be limited if it is not made available to the people who need it in a timely manner. As you study the various solutions available, you will see that the cloud-based Mobility-as-a-Service solutions score well in these areas. They typically have robust portals for viewing the data, as well as comprehensive role-based security that makes relevant reports and data available securely to all business functions that need it. You will also find that these solutions are often a fraction of the cost of many of the traditional COTS solutions such as Boxtone and Zenprise.
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