Get to Know Mobile Device Management

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

The Seven Security Habits of Highly Successful Mobile IT Administrators

Today's IT departments are finding new ways to safeguard the behaviors of their mobile work force.

Mobile device management (MDM) is one of those broadly named, frustratingly amorphous terms that can mean anything that the person using the phrase desires. The lack of a precise definition, however, doesn't mean that MDM isn't growing in importance. It is, by the day.

MDM can extend to the security and expense-related items most often discussed by the Telecom Expense Management (TEM) folks. The challenging reality is that the advent of bring your own device (BYOD) and other innovative approaches have made simply knowing what is operating on the network unclear. This, as much as anything else, attests to the importance of MDM.

PCWorld this week posted a list of five, clear steps for MDM from the security perspective. The site offers a paragraph or so of insight into some common-sense ideas: Formalize policies for mobile devices, use an internally developed app store, exert control over wireless access, implement network access control (NAC) and deploy a policy server.

The dynamic is that what was once a straightforward task of supporting and protecting a relatively limited selection of mobile devices has broadened into a far broader and fuzzy task. eSecurity Planet has a nice piece, which approaches MDM from the security perspective. This paragraph, from writer Jeff Goldman, sums up the field both from the security and broader perspectives. The key thing to note is the transition from the specific to the general:

A large part of that increase, the research firm said, will be driven by a shift from a focus on managing mobile devices and their security to building mobile app stores and managing the growing pool of apps and data on a growing range of smartphones and tablets.

MDM takes on great importance in the BYOD era. In a post sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent at ReadWriteWeb, Odyssey Software executive Mark Gentile provides insight into what businesses should ask MDM vendors as they consider whom to entrust this important task. The heart of the presentation is a series of bulleted questions to ask the prospective vendors. The takeaway is that riding herd on a mobile device inventory is much more difficult when the total number, breed and attributes of the steers in that herd are unknown.

Though it has been around for a while, interest in MDM is growing. The misfortunes of BlackBerry, which for years set the standard in management of mobile devices, sits alongside BYOD as a driver. Datamation gets into the issues, offering counsel on what an MDM platform should do and what IT planners researching a platform should ask prospective vendors.

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