As the "consumerization of IT" trend picks up pace, so is demand for mobile device management (MDM) solutions that can help IT teams keep tabs on the influx of smartphones and tablets pouring into the enterprise at unprecedented rates. These solutions, according to channel partners in the mobility space, lay a foundation for organizations looking to embark on a full-fledged mobile transformation.
But MDM adoption, at the end of the day, is still just that: foundational. The use of these solutions, while essential, must be rounded out with a slew of other strategic investments and infrastructure overhauls before the realization of a truly mobilized -- and truly secure -- enterprise workforce.
And just as it's a launching-off point for organizations looking to define a larger mobile strategy, MDM is also a launching-off point for channel partners selling the platforms, for those who can leverage them to initiate new conversations and construct broader mobile solutions for their clients.
MDM platforms, whether used as a first step or an end-to-end mobile solution, are offering relief for consumerization-spurred headaches. As a result, demand for these solutions is on the rise. Market researcher Forrester published a revised growth outlook for the MDM market in August, pegging its worth to be around $6.6 billion by 2015, nearly doubling the firm's original outlook of $3.9 billion.
Many vendors have been ramping up fresh MDM offerings or making smartphone- and tablet-friendly versions of their existing PC management platforms to vie for a piece of this billion-dollar pie. Microsoft, for example, announced this year it would be expanding its PC management software InTune to include new MDM capabilities, such as device and policy management.
Eric Main, director of product marketing for Windows InTune at Microsoft, said that the software giant's decision to incorporate MDM functionality was prompted almost entirely by customer and partner demand.
"This next [InTune] release that we announced the pre-release of for this year, we're moving into the area of MDM, which was one of the really key areas that customers and partners talked about," Main told CRN. "It's obviously a pretty growing, top need for a lot of our customers."
He made note of the cloud-based infrastructure on which the upcoming release is based, which will enable IT teams and solution providers to access these MDM capabilities remotely. The new InTune will provide support for Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices, and it was described by Main as a "people-centric" technology, meaning admins can drill down into user-specific views to see which types of devices and apps each of their employees is using.
He explained that, in larger organizations especially, partners will face the opportunity to resell this InTune platform to admins, whose PC-centric governance models are often too rigid to apply to mobile infrastructures without the help of MDM. In smaller organizations, which tend to lack in-house IT teams, partners can leverage InTune as part of a managed services model for remote management of client devices.
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