device-agnostic (device agnosticism) definition

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Device agnosticism is the capacity of a computing component to work with various systems without requiring any special adaptations. The term can apply to either hardware or software. In an IT context, agnosticism refers to anything that is designed to be compatible across most common systems.

A device-agnostic mobile application (app), for example, is compatible with most operating systems and may also work on different types of devices, including notebooks, tablet PCs and smartphones.  A device-agnostic website is designed to accommodate visitors using mobile devices, desktops or televisions to visit the site. A device-agnostic peripheral device operates with common computing platforms, typically connecting wirelessly. 

Device agnosticism is a major issue in mobile application development, particularly because the IT consumerization trend is pushing organizations to permit employees to use their own mobile devices at work. In such an environment, the capacity of software and systems to work across heterogeneous devices facilitates collaboration and helps prevent unmanageable demands for support. As a result, the trend toward device agnosticism is increasing along with the consumerization trend.

See also: portabilityconsumerization policy, BYOT (bring your own technology), BYOD policy, end user policy, mobile device management, native app, Web app, database-agnostic

This was first published in December 2011

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