As Apple gets ready to launch the iPad 3 or iPad HD (or whatever they decide to call it), IT solution providers, managed services providers and vendors continue to shore up their tools to manage and secure the new tablets.

First up, if you want deep details on the new iPad, check out these perspectives from David Courbanou on The VAR Guy.

Meanwhile, software companies continue to evolve their management efforts to address the iPad. There’s been plenty of news around these efforts over the past several months. Most recently, ManageEngine added mobile device management (MDM) to its offering and StillSecure updated its network access control technology to account for the risk of BYOD (bring your own device).

Level Platforms introduced its mobile device management technology Managed Workplace 2012 last month, Kaseya introduced an MDM module last year, and most remote monitoring and management players in the industry were either launching MDM support or preparing to launch it.

Seventy percent of MSPs say their customers are asking for mobile device management. In spite of the rush to secure and manage these devices, plenty of challenges remain according to this study – and that means there are still plenty of risks, too.  But as every smart MSP knows, those risks and challenges point to a business opportunity for the IT solution provider that is ready to tackle the problem.

Here’s a look at some of the ongoing issues and challenges posed by devices such as the Apple iPhone and iPad and Android phones and tablets that MSPs and IT solution providers can help their customers solve.
  • Contracts, data plans and data usage. If you started out in the reseller part of the business, a big part of it was selling the PCs and servers and then maintaining and servicing them. With mobile devices such as phones and tablets, sales are often through the carriers themselves. But navigating contracts and deciding on the most appropriate data plan could be a valuable service for MSPs to provide to customers.
  • The old break/fix and hardware refresh. Can you advise your customers on repairs, system updates and hardware refreshes. There may be an opportunity here if you can monetize that service.
  • Industries with compliance requirements. Are you serving healthcare or financial customers? Chances are that there are a host of compliance requirements they must follow. Making sure that their iPad or iPhone is in line with those rules could be a valuable service.
  • Managing employee data use. If your customers’ users are on a 3G plan, do they have a mechanism in place to ensure they aren’t about to incur major overage fees? Is there a way you can optimize their WiFi and 3G to make sure they are using the free service first? Can you also look at a way to report on the data usage over 3G?
The buzz among MSPs late last year was that customers were ahead of them in asking for these services. The challenge was in how to provide them in a profitable way. The same old question remains, can you make money by supporting mobile devices?

Well, can you? I’d love to hear some of your stories about what customers are asking for and what you’ve been able to provide so far. Have you figured out the best way to monetize these services, or are you still experimenting?