Overwhelmed by the influx of mobile devices? Consider cloud-based mobility managementWith Apple selling over 3 million new iPads in one weekend, it's clear that mobility is reaching the masses. The open question is how will companies support and manage a wide variety of devices that will include both corporate and the appropriately dubbed Bring Your Own Device, employee-owned smartphones and tablets. This phenomenon is particularly difficult for small and midsized companies that were not prepared for this tidal wave and don't have the IT resources or additional budget to support a rapid spike in mobile usage.
One overlooked approach to a company's mobility woes is a cloud-based mobility management service. Note, I said mobility management and not just mobile device management (MDM). Mobility management runs the gamut from device management, to mobile application management, secure document sharing, and even mobile expense management.
Many companies I speak with don't think of cloud and mobility together. It's a somewhat baffling trend considering the nature of mobility delivery and at the end of the day the vast efficiencies both provide. In fact, these two trends can support each other nicely. Cloud-based mobility management offers several benefits over its server-based ancestors, including:
- Rapid deployment. It can take business weeks or months to roll out a server-based MDM system. Cloud-based solutions can be activated within hours. It allows you to rapidly deploy policies and control access with simple-click configuration and provisioning.
- Predictable costs and scalability. In most cloud-based models, you pay nothing up front, and pay a predictable monthly or annual service fee for the devices being managed. The cloud model also lets you scale the service at your own pace as your business grows. If a company wants to roll out devices to 50 or 500 employees at one time, it takes the same amount of IT resources and can be accomplished with the same exact simple task in the same time interval.
- Device diversity. Today, many businesses are supporting RIM's BlackBerry operating system and adding basic management for Apple iOS devices. However, it's almost guaranteed that a company's employees will be considering other operating systems such as Android and Windows Phone. And for the foreseeable future, you'll still have laptops to contend with as well. The right cloud-based mobility management solution will support all operating systems with the same ease.
- One console to rule them all. Once you decide to support multiple operating systems, you could end up with multiple consoles. You can get a unified view with an on-premise MDM solution, but it won't be immediate and like most IT projects, it won't be easy. With cloud mobility management, you can support iPhones and iPads on one console today and use that same console to support Android devices or whatever else comes down the road.
- Near zero-day support. The mobile operating system landscape changes quickly. If you own your mobility management solution, you're in charge of updating it each and every time a new version of a mobile operating system rolls out. Generally, IT staffs are weeks behind in supporting the newest releases of an operating system. Not only is this a headache for IT, latency can introduce security risks and bring productivity to a screeching halt. Cloud-based providers have the service updated almost immediately. So if an employee buys a new Samsung Galaxy Note or the new iPad the same day it hits stores, you can confidently support it.
You can read more from Maribel Lopez on business mobility management at Forbes.com.