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Mobile device management (MDM) has become a crucial discipline for IT departments, given the increasing number of smartphones and media tablets used within organisations, says market analyst Gartner.  MDM

"The era of fully supporting company-owned devices is giving way to managed diversity in which tiered support for employee-owned, consumer-class devices is the norm," says Terrence Cosgrove, research director at Gartner.

With the unabated growth of consumerisation, IT leaders need to implement MDM to manage corporate- and employee-owned devices.

"Also, assign responsibilities inside IT departments for the service, application and security of all these devices," explains Cosgrove.

MDM requires coordination between security and operations. The measures firms take to implement mobile device security are mostly about ensuring device configurations match corporate policy.

For example, they check whether devices are protected by a compliant password and that the information they contain can be wiped, should circumstances call for this.

"Because of the complexity of the mobile device landscape, there must be a person or group responsible for monitoring and understanding users' demands for new types of device and the impact that new platforms have on applications," he adds.

"This person or group must work with the security team to address the impact that platform changes and demands for mobile services have on the organisation's security."

Corporations are moving from a single-standard approach to controlling mobility to a more flexible approach. Gartner calls this "managed diversity" — one that supports the variety of mobile devices found in the company.

“This is the only approach that helps IT leaders maintain control over mobility, and supports bring-your-own-device programs.”

The key to this strategy is to provide an appliance service that offers support for both personally owned devices (individually liable) and business-specific devices (corporate-liable).

The analyst firms adds that without managed diversity, corporations are likely to face increased costs for three reasons:

Reduced user productivity, if the IT standard does not suit users' needs; a perception on the part of users that the IT department has lost relevance, which prompts more users to support themselves and increases indirect costs; higher noncompliance costs incurred by users who circumvent IT standards.

Although some MDM vendors and products have been around a long time, MDM is a nascent market and growing rapidly.

Today, there are over 100 MDM vendors, with most offering on-premises or software-as-a-service tools. More mature managed services will emerge during the next three years to drive growth in the industry.

Gartner predicts pure MDM revenue (i.e., excluding revenue relating to messaging and security) will exceed US$500 million in 2012. Corporations have to decide whether a heavyweight (i.e., container-based) or lightweight (i.e., policy-based) approach is appropriate for them.

“A variety of factors come into play here, including device ownership (whether the user or the organization owns the device), security, compliance, application delivery and device usability,” says Cosgrove.


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