Who cares about mobile devices?
One answer to that question could be my colleagues who recently blogged on mobile device management (MDM) — Justin Strong and Alex Evans. Though they represent very different areas of technology within Novell (respectively Endpoint Mgmt and Collaboration), they both have a keen interest in this space and share similar viewpoints.
Alex blogged on the changing state of mobile device management and its re-emergence of late. Solutions have existed in this space but none have had particular success, save for RIM’s BES offering, which Alex astutely notes could have seen its strong adoption due to connectivity requirements as opposed to depth and breadth of capabilities.
Justin raises some good points around the rapidly increasing significance of mobile device management as a prevalent IT theme and the challenges that exist – beginning with a lack of a commonly accepted definition for this space in the market.
But the question I have is very specific – who cares about mobile devices? My real reason for posing this question is to understand who is ultimately the buyer of a mobile device management solution, both today and tomorrow. The camps seem divided on this issue.
Recently I spent some time with large group of technical integrators which was evenly split in specialty between collaboration solutions skills and desktop management skills. I posed this question to them and a spirited debate ensued.
Those in the collaboration camp cited that the vast majority of mobile devices in the enterprise are purchased by organizations for phone and email services, making this inherently an interest of the collaboration team in a given IT organization. Added to that is the history of this space which is over a decade and includes solutions like the BES offering from RIM, which was heavily adopted and intended to be leveraged by enterprise collaboration administrators. So it seems that the email system owner is the one who cares most about mobile device management.
Or is it? The endpoint management half of the group went with the argument of end-user environment and platform management. They asserted that the desktop management group owned the endpoint environment which people consume every day, whether it was a desktop or laptop, and by extension includes mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones. These mobile devices require the same basic lifecycle management capabilities that existing endpoint management solutions provide for desktops and laptops today.
And many industry analysts agree on this point. Eighteen months ago Gartner reported that mobile device and PC lifecycle management solutions will begin converging as soon as next year. They also recommend placement of mobile device services inside of the desktop services group, but these goes against the fact that the email owners are the ones who have typically had the domain expertise around managing these devices.
I find this basic conflict to be quite interesting, and one that very few have called out. What are your thoughts?