Cloud-based mobile device management getting hot: Gartner

To place management controls on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones used in business, the enterprise has showed preference for acquiring mobile device management (MDM) software where server and management console components are kept on premises. But that’s changing, as companies are now buying cloud-based MDM, according to Gartner.

Today, more than 85% of MDM product buys for mobile devices are software where components are retained in-house and on premises, such as management consoles, said Gartner analyst Phillip Redman, in his presentation on the impact of the cloud on mobility at the Gartner IT Infrastructure & Operations Management Summit here this week. But there is now a shift taking place where MDM buyers are showing preference for cloud-based MDM offerings, with AirWatch, Fiberlink, MobileIron, Zenprise and Notify Technology among top choices there.

Some companies offer both on premises and cloud options, but one advantage in cloud-based services is the speed in getting users deployed with MDM, Redman noted, even though it may still requiring installing a software agent on the device. “It’s getting to the point where it takes less than 24 hours to get your users up and going,” he pointed out.

In another session, Redman offered the audience of enterprise information technology managers a look at Gartner’s just-completed 2012 MDM Magic Quadrant, which sized up today’s MDM providers.

Gartner considered dozes of MDM companies, and the Magic Quadrant, a format Gartner typically uses to list “leaders,” “challengers,” “niche players” and “visionaries,” narrows these down.

The MDM “leaders” are said to be MobileIron, AirWatch, Fiberlink, Zenprise and Good Technology. The “challengers” are said to be SAP and Symantec. The “visionaries” are BoxTone and IBM, while the cast of “niche players,” the category that usually makes vendors squirm, included McAfee, Sophos, Trend Micro, Tangoe, OpenPeak, Silverback, LANDesk, Smith Micro Software and MyMobileSecurity. There are plenty of other MDM vendors that didn’t make it this far to even get on the Gartner Magic Quadrant.

Redman also pointed out that MDM is in flux, fragmented and evolving and that Microsoft, Google and BMC are among vendors looking at what they might do in this area. He said the market is expected to remain very fragmented through 2015. He also noted that MDM vendors have generally trailed in supporting the Google Android platform in comparison to other mobile operating systems. “Android support is still immature,” said Redman, predicting it will be another year before Android is “well-supported by most MDM vendors.”

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security.

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