What is Mobile Device Management—Part 1, the Introduction

I've been reading a great deal lately about Mobile Device Management (MDM). What it is and isn't, why it matters, and what everyone needs to be doing about it. While it's almost always an interesting topic, something I find most intriguing about MDM articles is how they define the space to begin with. They don't seem to agree most of the time.

What do I mean by this? Ever try to talk Patriots with a hardcore Red Sox fan? It's a little like that. Read a blog on a security site (such as darkreading.com) and chances are MDM's principle value is on protecting data and access integrity—with emphasis on mobile devices. Stories often focus on lost devices, the implications to the organization, and often include headlines like “70% of your corporate IP is in your email”. Then roll on over to someone focused on systems management (such as windowsitpro.com), and MDM is about how to continue to manage the resource needs of your workforce. Today maybe that's as simple as keeping email clients and basic productivity solutions running on smartphones—but tomorrow this might be about making your ERP platform consumable on an iPad or other tablet. Stories include such headlines as “How will you patch your enterprise applications on Android”. For others, MDM is really about the model of resources and the value chain—it's about the Cloud and how Mobile Devices will finally usher in a new phase of MSPs and create a true consumption-based model where your bill is measured in the actual consumption of value. The list of course goes on

So what is MDM? Is it about Security? Is it about empowering a mobile workforce? Is it about cost-savings and flexibility? Pretty much, yes—and then some. MDM is a very big deal. So big that many of it's more logical sub-components—such as security—are sufficiently big enough on their own to merit their own category of discussion. However this doesn't mean organizations should only focus on one piece, or worse, somehow excuse the important relationship these pieces have with one another.

MDM is coming—it won't arrive all at one time (in some cases it's already here) and one size does not fit all. It won't save your organization, and it won't cripple it either. Like any set of tools, it will extend your organization's abilities and reach (when properly deployed).

Coming next time, Part 2: How to start leveraging MDM today while planning for tomorrow.


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