MSPmentor Blog

Is there a Mobile Device Management Bubble?

Is there an MDM (mobile device management) bubble? Currently I get a lot of questions about what our mobile device management (MDM) strategy is, and to be frank I'm not 100 percent sure myself. There is an enormous amount of hype in the MSP industry at the moment and I fear it has more to do with generating excitement than generating revenues. After a number of difficult years in the industry, the emergence of a new class of devices to manage is big news and there is no shortage of acronyms and hockey sticks doing the rounds. I am just not sure we should be buying into it.

BYOD/BYOT is a passing fad in my opinion. If I buy a fancy new gadget then damn right I am going to want to carry it around with me. And with all the cool things I can do with it I am absolutely going to want to use it while I work and every opportunity I have to show it around will be another reason to connect it to my company network. And the IT department? Why they are as excited as the rest of us right now and no way are they going to tell me to put it away.

Taking Notes on iPad

For how long, though? I took my iPad to every meeting for a while. I tapped away, wrote on it with a stylus, and synchronised it to the laptop in my bag as if by magic. I downloaded Notepad, NoteShelf, NoteMan, NoteTaker, EveryNote and every other note app I could find to test out how they would help me be more productive. I was a note taking demon. Then I went back to the office and tried to summarise what I had written onto my laptop. Boy did I miss pen and paper – with doodles for empahsis, arrows and diagrams neatly squeezed in between the lines, and big stars next to Eurika moments. There are some great gadgets out there but as a primary input tool for business I am not sure we are there yet. I did like what I saw of Microsoft's Surface, by the way, although too much was missing in the way of battery life and screen readability to make a call just yet.

The point I am trying to make, is that the current MDM hype is a bit ahead of reality I think. Smartphones and tablets are great for accessing data but they will need to complete the circle to becoming smaller and lighter laptops before they are real business input tools. As access devices we don’t so much need to manage them as manage the networks they connect to, and that is already a mature and robust sector on its own – no one awaiting the emergence of new MDM platforms. I may be wrong, and we debate this internally regularly, but I am not sure I want my personal devices monitored for me. My 12 year old does a great job of doing that already.

Ian van Reenen is CTO CentraStage, which works closely with MSPs. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of CentraStage’s guest blogs here.

Discuss this Blog Entry 5

Ian van Reenen (not verified)
on Jul 4, 2012
Hi David, I did use OneNote a few years ago when i had an HP TouchSmart convertible laptop and did enjoy. After switching to Mac (and this was not a Mac v Windows issue but rather driven by need for Ramp;D of an OSX agent for CentraStage) i dropped it. I will have a look at it again. The bigger issue is still the requirement to manage these devices and thats really where I am coming from. Do you have and MDM solution installed on your iPad? Regards, Ian
David Stinner (not verified)
on Jul 4, 2012
Ian, You used the wrong note taking apps. You need to get the Microsoft OneNote app for the iPad. I take all my notes and embed pictures which is something I can't do with pen and paper. Then it automatically syncs with my notebook and desktop computers. I don't need to do anything to have all my notes in one place no matter which electronic device I take them on. It feels like everyone discounts Microsoft in this new mobile world, even though we use Excel and Word everyday. One Note has been in Microsoft Office since 2003 and I have 8 years of notes in it, and they are with me wherever I have my iPad or smartphone. I even access then on my Droid4 with the new Microsoft Android OneNote app that syncs with SkyDrive. It is everything you want to go paperless, and it already exists. Try it, you won't go back to other note apps. David Stinner US Itek Group Buffalo, NY
Ian van Reenen (not verified)
on Jul 4, 2012
Two good points - thanks for the comments guys. Kasi to me the iPad specifically is a better content consumption device. It feels right immediately when using it to read/watch/listen but besides the odd email response I can't say the same for content creation. I do think the Surface - and some of the iPad keypad accessories - are a step in the right direction but essentially aren't they and the ultrabooks/macairs really just the same thing..? I think there is a big step change innovation still coming. Spencer, I think we are in fact in agreement. as said above the current slew of mobile devices (and haven't laptops always been mobile devices..?) and just further endpoints to be managed by existing tools. Hence my point on MDM - it's just another word for an existing technology - not a new technology in itself. As a device management platform ourselves that pretty much how we see it and this is reflected in our release of agents to install on these devices and connect them to our existing platform as opposed to creating a whole new platform. Sandboxed apps are really nothing new either - all iOS apps are already sandboxed. Yes, we all need to (and do) keep innovating, but just as you said - this is just an extension of existing technology and hence my sceptism at all the headline grabbing hype around MDM. Thanks again for commenting. Regards, Ian
Spencer Parkinson (not verified)
on Jul 3, 2012
I think whether or not BYOD is a fad is a point that could be discussed further. In the end, I suppose only time will tell. However, as a Symantec employee focused on mobile device security and management, I have to say that I don’t at all think it is accurate to say MDM is overhyped because BYOD might be just a fad. MDM is about so much more than managing user-owned devices. In fact, it’s not even the best technology for managing user-owned devices – mobile application management (MAM) is a much stronger option. That’s not to say it can’t play a role in BYOD, but MDM is really best suited for managing corporate-owned devices, which have been well-entrenched in many enterprises for years and are simply additional endpoints that need managed. Therefore, MDM is in essence a necessary extension of a company’s endpoint management strategy. Spencer Parkinson Symantec
Kasi (not verified)
on Jul 3, 2012
It took me a really long time to get used to taking notes on my iPad; I felt as though I could write it on paper quicker. But I stuck with it, as I am trying to go paperless as much as possible.
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