N-able Technologies is developing mobile device management (MDM) software capabilities for Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Google Android devices. The N-able MDM solution is expected to be available in Q4 2012. Translation: N-able will join a growing list of software companies assisting MSPs with smart phone and tablet management, though I believe most MSPs have yet to formulate clear MDM strategies.

In some ways, N-able is late to the MDM market. MDM was absent from N-able's new N-central 8.2 release, which debuted earlier this month. But in N-able's defense: The MDM market remains a confusing, emerging market for most MSPs, with revenue opportunities that are difficult to quantify.

Some educated guesses: I believe thousands of MSPs are testing MDM software. But I also believe the vast majority of MSPs have yet to sort out MDM platform, sales and pricing strategies. MSPmentor last week suggested that the standalone MDM software market is already dead, predicting that MSPs will pursue MDM options that plug into their existing management dashboards, rather than building or using yet another software silo for MDM capabilities.

Plugging MDM Into Managed Services Software

With that potential trend in mind, companies like Kaseya and Level Platforms have been adding MDM capabilities to their IT automation and managed services platforms. I believe LabTech Software will likely demonstrate or discuss some MDM capabilities at the Automation Nation conference (June 11-13, Orlando, Fla). Plus, security software companies like Symantec and Sophos have each acquired MDM companies to round out their portfolios in recent weeks.

What is N-able's specific plan on MDM? N-able has a history of partnering to extend its software platform. Examples include relationships with CA Technologies (ARCserve storage) and NTRglobal (remote control/chat). But in the case of MDM, N-able has decided to develop software extensions on its own, according to a company spokeswoman.

The reason: APIs from Apple and the Android OEMs have rapidly progressed. By writing the software in-house, N-able expects to gain "greater flexibility" in meeting partners' needs, while allowing for a smarter way to approach licensing and registration tasks.