Big IT vendors muscle in on mobile device management

The mobile device management space is no longer led by startups; numerous large, traditional IT vendors have bought their way into MDM.

The mobile device management space is no longer a game for the young kids.

IBM, SAP, Citrix Systems Inc., Symantec, McAfee (now owned by Intel Corp.) and Kaspersky Labs have all muscled in. Next year, even more traditional IT vendors, such as Microsoft or Cisco Systems Inc. could continue the trend of nudging out the smaller, pure-play mobile device management (MDM) startups, said Phillip Redman, mobile analyst at Gartner Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based research firm. 

"The market has grown, and bigger companies have made their own acquisitions and investments to catch up to companies that got that initial head start," he said.

A number of high-profile vendors bought their way into the MDM space last year, including Citrix, with the purchase of Zenprise. It recently launched a mobile management suite called XenMobile that includes Zenprise's technology.

Traditional vendors that initially eschewed mobile management products and services have realized not only the revenue potential from them, but also the importance to their customers, Redman said. The enterprise mobile management market is forecasted to be a $1.6 billion market by 2014, up from $784 million in 2012.

A large majority of IT organizations still rely on a combination of BlackBerry Enterprise Server and Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, but are evaluating an enterprise mobility management solution, Redman said. 

"There's a fast cycle for research and innovation in the mobile space, and I don't know if mobile management will ever reach a maturity point," he said. "The difficulty is that every company has unique mobile support requirements, and there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to meet those different needs."

The mobile device management hot list

While it is commonly referred to as "mobile device management," enterprise mobile management products -- from a technology standpoint -- need to include more than just device management. They also have to offer application management, file sync and share, data security tools, and support for either a corporate-owned or personally owned device, said Ruben Spruijt, chief technology officer at PQR, an IT solutions provider based in the Netherlands.

"It isn't about the device or the apps, it's about the business," Spruijt said. "BYOD [bring your own device] might be the new normal, but it's also not for everyone or every situation."

In May, PQR published an enterprise mobility management vendor evaluation that includes AppSense's MobileNow, VMware Inc.'s Horizon Suite, Cisco's Meraki Systems Manager and Microsoft's Windows InTune.

Vendors that rose to the top of both PQR's list and Gartner's Magic Quadrant list included AirWatch, MobileIron, Citrix's XenMobile, Good Technology, and Symantec's Mobile Management Suite.

While BlackBerry is largely credited with being one of the first companies to pioneer MDM with its BlackBerry Enterprise Server, it wasn't until this year that the company finally cracked Gartner's list of the top vendors in the MDM space, thanks to the release of the cross-platform mobile support in BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.

"They were always great at managing their own devices and pushing security policies down to those devices," Redman said. "But doing that for one device or operating system is no longer sufficient for the current state of enterprise mobility."

At this point in the game, it may be tough for startups who want in on MDM, Redman said. 

"The MDM train has left the station," he said. "If you're a new company trying to start in this space, it's hard to make a dent against the big vendors buying their way in or nontraditional companies that started four or five years ago."

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Do you use a startup's mobile device management tool? Which one?
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We've looked at a number of tools, including Mobile Span, Sky Giraffe, Workspot, AppMesh, and Built.io. Each has its pros and cons, but they are all effective.
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MaaS360 however, they are not a start-up.
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MobileIron
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Using Asurion
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LetMobile - does not take control of our devices and provide better security
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Yes, we're using LetMobile too and it rocks!
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MobileIron. They're picking up the pace and adding useful new features and functions all the time now. I'm very happy to have opted for it for MDM.
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Using IBM's MDM. It manages PCs and Macs too. So all in one place. Nice
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