Mobile Explosion a Headache for IT and MSPs Alike

By Doug Barney

If you look around your belt or pocketbook you understand as much as anyone how fast mobile is growing. Chances are there is at least a smartphone if not a tablet on or near your person. Your work machine is likely a laptop, which means it delivers computing as you move from office to home to wherever else you can get a connection. That’s why both the Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Management Services (MMS) where MDM is done as a service, markets are exploding.

According to Forrester, some 37 percent of U.S. information workers in the U.S. already use their own devices – without corporate permission. The research house says that by 2016, 200 million people will bring their own devices to their companies.

Mobile management player BoxTone recently surveyed over 350 MSPs and IT pros and found that the demands of managing all these devices isn’t just growing, but compounding. “The emergence of mobility provides numerous challenges for organizations. While much has been written about the challenge of securing devices, supporting and maintaining mobile IT systems can pose an even greater challenge. With mobility as a primary, mission-critical system for businesses, IT must ensure the reliability of these services. They must also efficiently and cost effectively support a growing group of mobile users,” BoxTone said.

While Forrester found that 37 percent of workers use personal devices without corporate permission, BoxTone took a broader look, and found that “57 percent of the respondents report that approximately half of their employees are now using enterprise connected devices. This is a marked increase from previous surveys that showed 30-40 percent enterprise mobile adoption in 2012, up from 20-30 percent adoption in 2011.”

According to BoxTone, half of those queried said that roughly half of their shop’s end users will use a new mobile device in the next 12 months, and these devices will need some IT tending. “In the past, IT and support teams standardized on one PC format and vendor to more predictably and cost-effectively scale out their PC deployments -- but the explosion of mobile diversity with hundreds of different devices has thrown that out the window permanently. IT and support teams accustomed to the predictable three-year PC refresh pattern are now strained when trying to manage a rate of change that has collapsed from years to months,” said Brian Reed, Chief Product Officer at BoxTone.

This massive BYOD movement creates equally large challenges. Complexity is the biggest issue, said 57 percent of those surveyed, followed by security, the array of devices and how much it all costs. “More employees are now using a wider variety of mobile devices, apps and services, with the expectations of problem free, uninterrupted service. This wide diversity and always-on imperative have collided to make efficient service desk support a far more complex undertaking, and in many cases uncharted territory for service desk staff. It's clear that security and support are now the two sides of the coin for mobility, where you must address both to be successful with BYOD. This challenge will only increase in importance as organizations deploy mission critical mobility to run the business and gain competitive advantage,” said Reed.


As mentioned earlier, there are two approaches to managing mobile, MDM and MMS. The key difference, it seems, is who offers the services. MMS is clearly a set of services. MDM, meanwhile, is a tool that can be used by IT or a service provider. When MDM is offered as a service, does it become MMS?

A quick analysis by MSP Today concludes there is quite an overlap between the two disciplines and there be a merger where the two ultimately become one. In fact, the smart folks at Gartner see the exact same overlap.

“A common question has emerged regarding the difference between the mobile device management (MDM) software market and MMS. MMS are generally consumed as bundled IT and process services in conjunction with mobility management software (inclusive of MDM software). Managed mobility software (of which MDM software is only one part of the solution) is crucial to the delivery of MMS, in the same way that the use of IT operations and service management software is used in the delivery of broader IT managed services and outsourcing contracts.”

Even though many MMS vendors are delivering MDM as a service, for now at least the vendors in the two quadrant studies are almost entirely different, with only IBM making both Magic Quadrant lists.

BoxTone’s Magic MDM Touch

BoxTone made it into Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Mobile Device Management Software released this May, not the research house’s MMS report. “The vendor's distinguishing element is its focus on mobile service quality, and service-level and workflow management. BoxTone 7 brings a "single pane of glass" platform-based approach to support the full life cycle of mobility management from a system management/ITIL perspective,” Gartner said. “BoxTone is positioned in the Visionaries quadrant and is recommended for enterprises and managed service providers (MSPs) with hybrid mobility server and container environments (e.g., BlackBerry, Good Technology, Exchange ActiveSync [EAS], etc.) with service-level and workflow management requirements.”



Edited by Cassandra Tucker





MSPToday Editor at Large

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