There's more to managing a mobile platform than simply tossing a smart phone to your users.
Mobile administrators charged with growing a company's
mobile initiatives quickly find that proper management is essential for
providing a consistent and predictable experience to mobile users.
However, as a company's use of mobile technologies grows,
mobile administrators need to expand their perception of what constitutes
mobile management beyond the device and its configuration. They need to account
for the ongoing security, application performance and use costs of these
devices as well.
Device management, the most common form of mobile
management, also offers the most choices for corporations to investigate.
Mobile operating system makers such as Microsoft and Research In Motion have
their own MDM (mobile device management) systems, as do device makers Nokia,
Motorola and Hewlett-Packard, and third-party ISVs such as Sybase. MDM
solutions can be bought for in-house deployment or as a hosted service provided
by a carrier or other third party.
eWEEK Labs finds Zenprise eases BlackBerry management. Read the review here.
These MDM systems provide the basic tool set for managing
and monitoring a mobile fleet over the air, allowing administrators to remotely
track inventory and maintain consistent firmware revisions across the fleet;
deploy, update and configure applications on the device; set up, update and
maintain access and configuration policies; and monitor basic device statistics
such as memory and storage usage. Depending on the platform, administrators may
also be able to do some interactive troubleshooting on the remote devices, or
devices may be able to autoheal themselves according to policy.
Save for the solutions delivered by the operating system
purveyors, MDM systems will likely have the widest levels of device support, as
many MDM systems have been designed to work not only with the common
smart-phone platforms, but with the lesser-known platforms found on many
feature phones as well.
Therefore, enterprise mobile administrators may find they
can start supporting a wider variety of consumer-grade devices brought into the
network by users demanding the devices be made to work with the corporate
e-mail, VPN and Wi-Fi networks. However, letting all these devices on the
network piecemeal could be folly, as it will become nearly impossible to
deliver that consistent experience across a wide range of devices with varying
capabilities and operating systems.
Administrators will find drastically less varied device
support as they extend their management frame of reference to encompass other
issues equally important to maintaining a consistent mobile experience. To
improve the company's use of mobile devices, administrators will need to ask
questions such as: Are my applications working as expected? Are my devices
secure? and Am I paying too much for service? Then they will find their MDM
systems an insufficient answer. Other solutions are required to tackle these
problems, and these solutions typically support a significantly less diverse
collection of devices.