Mobile Device Management is no picnic. Just ask anybody who’s doing it – or trying to.
On the surface of things, MDM doesn’t seem so tough. All you have to do is read the website of any major MDM vendor, and they’ll explain that they have the whole problem handled. Just buy their solution, and “problem solved.” But you don’t have look very hard to start finding chinks in the armor.
Gartner’s 2012 Magic Quadrant for Mobile Device Management Software Report is prefaced with the assertion that “MDM features have commoditized with little differentiation,” indicating that most offer the same strengths – and weaknesses. Perhaps the biggest limitation on MDM as a category is that the ability to actual manage devices is highly dependent on the mobile operating system each device is running – and all mobile OSes are not created equal in terms of their ability to be managed.
According to the Gartner report, Apple has been increasing the manageability of its devices with each the release of each new version of iOS. This is good news, since Gartner’s research shows that about 70 percent of MDM vendors will have made Apple their main mobile device platform within the year. However, while Apple continually increases the number of policies that can be managed on its devices, it maintains strict guidelines about its device support, so that, “In the end, every vendor manages Apple devices the same way. There is no differentiation there among vendors,” Gartner reports.
Google is similar to Apple in its approach, the report states, but permits even fewer device management options. “In the latest version of Android, 4.0, (Google) opened only 16 MDM APIs for OEMs and MDM providers to manage, compared with more than 500 on the latest version of BlackBerry.” This has severely retarded the expansion of Android devices in the business market, and does much to explain why Blackberry is showing cracks, but continues to hold on in many organizations that place a high value on security and manageability of mobile devices.
So the fact of the matter is that when it comes to deploying MDM in the enterprise, there’s only so much you can do, and switching to a different MDM vendor may not make a lot of difference. Managing mobiles is still a bumpy ride for many organizations, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.