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So, what is MDM?



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April 8, 2011 9:05 am

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You are probably hearing a lot about mobile device management (MDM), but do you really know what it means or why it should matter to you? Is it about security? Is it about empowering a mobile workforce? Is it about cost-savings and flexibility?

We don’t have all the answers, but the bottom line is: MDM is coming. Are you curious? Nervous? An expert? If so, check out this recent blog series  from ZENworks product marketing manager, Justin Strong, which address what is MDM in  Part 1 , accessing your MDM landscape in Part 2, where are the service gaps and threats Part 3 and a little history and what it means for the future in Part 4.

What do you think about MDM and where it is going? There’s more to come on MDM, but in the meantime we’d love to hear from you.

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2 Comments

  1. By:Scott

    The first thought I have about mobile data management is that it needs a new acronym. Our industry is good at making things complex, using acronyms and, unfortunately, re-using acronyms quite regularly to the bafflement of our customers and ourselves.

    MDM is quite recognized in the IT industry as Master Data Management. Outside our industry it has some interesting uses too (Mechanically Deboned Meat anyone?).

    On a more relevant note it seems like ZENworks for Handhelds may have been ahead of its time but the market is now heating up. Yet the market has evolved. The core concepts are still there:

    * Policies related to security, data loss prevention and access should be based more on location and user authorization than device in use

    * Automation of configuration management equals consistent “correct” configuration leading to lower support costs, happier (sort of) users, more consistent compatibility and more consistent security

    * Loss or stolen devices need remote “kill” switches

    * Data that requires high security should be prevented from living on mobile devices that live in low security / high vulnerability uses — let the user do their job through an app or browser but don’t let them put the whole customer database on their ipod

    What’s different? A proliferation of devices, manufacturers, OSes (with a corresponding lack of management frameworks, APIs or sufficient security capabilities in many cases). More threat vectors. Lots more users — especially those trying to use their personal devices to access their work environments.

    It seems like Novell is in a good position to aid customers in bring mobile devices under control as today’s solutions not only require what ZENworks for Handhelds provided but also require compliance management, security and information event management, a business service orientation, integration with identity and access management as well as workable single sign-on for mobile devices and end point management capabilities such as the ability to keep the user from downloading the customer DB to the mobile device over the network and over USB. These are all things in the portfolio. Can they be applied to mobile devices? Can Novell Operations Center provide the IT and Business dashboards that provide some confidence that the mobile devices are safe and working right this moment? Seems like lots of opportunity.

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  2. By:Justin

    Scott, agreed on a number of counts (don’t get me started on colloquial acronyms).

    Something key I think you’ve hit on is the need for something I call “device abstraction”. This means we stop focusing on managing the device and instead focus on managing the user who will often change devices frequently through a typical work day. Email is a common example. It used to be good enough that email was available on your “doesn’t go anywhere” desktop, but not anymore. We want persistent email access anywhere and everywhere–on the desktop, the laptop, the smartphone, the tablet and in the near future on the Fridge Display at home… This means a “device centric” approach to managing things (e.g. I manage Scott’s Desktop or, in the future, I manage Scott’s Fridge Display) isn’t sustainable for a number of reason (scale, service levels, security, lifecycle management, and more). Instead, we need to start managing “Scott”, irrespective of what device he’s using, or where he’s using it from. As we all know, this is no longer limited to email either. People are wanting the full desktop experience on any device.

    What’s interesting about Mobile Device Management–at least to me–is the catalyst it’s playing in all of this. The consumer ease of the App Store model, combined with the relative low-cost of tablets and smartphones is resulting in a tidal wave of these devices finding their way into the enterprise–without IT approval. Unfortunately, this is also putting attention on the wrong thing–managing devices.

    You’re spot-on to say Novell is uniquely positioned to deliver on the needs of the MDM space. Novell’s leadership in identity and location-aware solutions means we can effectively obtain “device abstraction” in a way that ensures people have what they need, when they need it, and irrespective of the device concerned. The technology can then dynamically adjust to ensure things remain secure and productive. Without this approach, everyone will always be playing catch-up to the latest device types–and unfortunately focusing on the people second.

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