I had the opportunity to be briefed by the MDM (mobile device management) vendor Soti a couple of weeks ago. The briefing gave me a glimpse into the changes happening in this space. In days gone by when the mobility projects I was involved in were all about rugged handhelds and bar code scanners, MDM vendors like Soti were critical, not so much for mobile security, but for their ability to help debug mobile device problems in the field.
In 2006 nearly all enterprise mobility apps were custom. Every app deployment was complex and time consuming. MDM vendors like Soti provided the remote access and monitoring of mobile devices that app developers needed to understand bugs. Mobile devices had so little memory that running out of memory was a common problem. In order to solve this problem, either the user would need to bring in the device, or software from companies like Soti would allow you to remotely access, control and debug the device. This enabled the helpdesk to discover and resolve problems while leaving the device to be productive in the field - a useful and cost effective solution.
When your custom mobile app was the only app on the device, and there were only a few hundred users, there were much fewer security concerns. Today security is a huge concern, but MDM vendors have stretched out way beyond just mobile security. Here are some of the areas that Soti just announced:
- Web Filtering
- Real-Time Antivirus/Malw
- Mobile Help Desk Suite
- Telecom Expense Management
- Secure Content Library
In this article I use the common acronym MDM, but most vendors in this space have moved beyond this term. Soti today uses the term Enterprise Mobility Management to cover the full range of capabilities.
Another interesting development is that MDM or EMM is now for more than just security conscience companies. Many of Soti's deployments these days involve mobile devices in schools. You can understand the connection to web filtering and real-time anti-virus and malware protection given this environment.
Mobile security concerns today have evolved beyond just smartphones. Vehicles, equipment, smart homes and appliances all have the ability to wirelessly communicate today. It will be interesting to continue to watch how this industry evolves.
Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for SMAC, Cognizant
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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough
to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.
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