BYOD the Next Generation: More Devices, Deeper Data Access, New Thinking

SPECIAL REPORT: BYOD and mobile-device-management needs are evolving as the mobile touch points in our lives increase. While specifics vary, the answers are all in the cloud. 

The numbers of mobile touch points in our lives are increasing—dramatically—and are only expected to rise. Verizon Wireless and AT&T offered evidence of this last summer when each introduced plans that changed the carriers' basic business plans, focusing on deep pools of data from which multiple devices can sip, instead of the needs of individual devices.

The latest news reports provide further evidence on a daily basis of how pervasive mobile technology is becoming in our lives. Tablet shipments are expected to reach 258 million units by 2016, according to Gartner. By that same year, IDC expects smartphone shipments to reach 1.4 billion units.

SBC believes that by 2015 assembly lines will turn out more than 30 million cars with wireless connectivity capabilities—cars that will be able to email the office, acknowledge the devices in our pockets and bags when we sit down, and even recognize us as we pull into our driveways to turn on specific lights, adjust the thermostat and activate many other functions.

Our televisions will connect to the Internet. More than 122 million of them are expected to ship with Internet connectivity by 2014, according to Display Search. We will even connect our homes to the Internet, enabling us to check from the office that the back door is locked, while the refrigerator orders more milk.

Faced with this onslaught of mobile connectivity, businesses of all sizes have been confronted with the question of how to make productive use of the technology without taxing their available IT resources or compromising the security of corporate data.

Their response—bring your own device (BYOD) policies—resulted from personal smartphones becoming ubiquitous. But as each of us becomes connected to more mobile devices, does it signal the need to rethink BYOD? It is time for the next-generation of mobile-device-management (MDM) policies for dealing with an onslaught of mobile touch points? The experts say, not exactly.

"IT basically has three choices—layer on new MDM solutions on top of old ones, switch over to new MDM solutions that encompass existing and future devices, or turn to a cloud-based solution," Ken Hyers, an analyst with Technology Business Research, told eWEEK.

"The problem with just continuing to add new MDM solutions on top of old is that expenses for licensing and administering multiple solutions pile up, as does complexity," Hyers continued. "They could throw out all of their old systems and switch to a new one that covers all devices, but most enterprise IT departments are loath to get rid of existing solutions because the effort of untangling them from their internal systems is too difficult, and eventually the new systems will become outdated."

That leaves one option.

Cloud-based MDM systems "seem to be the direction enterprises are moving in to manage BYOD," Hyers concluded, "so I expect cloud-based mobile-device management and security will become the new norm in the coming months and years.