The rapid expansion of mobile devices in the enterprise has left companies scrambling to find ways to manage the various factors, systems and services involved in the use of these devices, which are typically smartphones.
Indeed, a cottage industry of sorts -- mobile device management (MDM) -- has emerged to address companies' needs to manage mobile devices in the enterprise. MDM concerns itself with provisioning, configuring, managing, updating, enforcing policy, and securing access to and from mobile devices.
Leaders in the MDM space include mobility companies such as RIM and Sybase; large IT systems management vendors, notably CA, HP, and IBM; and pure-play MDM vendors such as MobileIron and VisionWare.
rolled out the 3.0 version of its Virtual Smartphone Platform, an innovative, multi-OS smartphone management solution.
The most compelling addition to 3.0 is an API for channel partners that will allows carriers and other vendors to build their own applications for mobile device management, security and analytics, and to integrate MobileIron data and actions with other enterprise systems.
Also new to 3.0 are: BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) integration; new end-user controls that balance security and privacy; and enhanced workflow.
The BES integration will speed client deployment, distribute BES policies and service books, and remotely lock and wipe devices.
Beefed-up MobileIron Platform Enables Partners to Create Apps and Services
The new features add key several key functions to the Virtual Smartphone Platform, said Bob Tinker, CEO of MobileIron.
"Using our API, partners can leverage our virtual data architecture -- which provides visibility into the data, apps, and activities of a smartphone -- to create apps and services they may need in the future," said Tinker.
As examples of new apps and services, Tinker cited enterprises' needs to: trigger MobileIron device management actions from other enterprise systems; use mobile security services based on MobileIron's rich set of device, behavior, and app compliance data; and create new analytical tools to understand the real-time activity and service quality experience of end-users.
"The MobileIron Mobility API will allow us to extend our Pinnacle solution suite to encompass Mobile Device Management (MDM)," said Larry Foster, President of PAETEC Software Corp.
The Pinnacle suite provides Service Lifecycle Management solutions that deliver scalable and flexible options for streamlining the service support and delivery of communications and IT systems.
Foster said that by Integrating Pinnacle with MobileIron, PAETEC's customers will be able to administer significant aspects of security management of wireless devices - such as locking the device, selective wiping of files, email and other applications, and scheduling device backups without leaving the Pinnacle interface.
MobileIron Solves Challenges of Smartphones
Smartphones in the enterprise introduce challenges not addressed by traditional laptop mobility strategies, said Tinker.
Tinker listed the key challenges as high cost, poor data visibility, too many platforms, and the consumer-driven nature of smartphone adoption in the enterprise.
"Mobile expenses are exploding for businesses, as users demand smartphones while carrier costs are spiraling upward," he said. "Getting costs under control is a difficult policing effort at best."
As for poor visibility, he noted that companies lack a clear view of their data and applications, especially as laptop data can also live on a smartphone. In addition, the massive aggregate storage on such easily lost units is a security timebomb.
Another burning issue for enterprises is the lack of an industry standard for the various smartphone operating systems: BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, iPhone, Symbian, and Android.
Single platform strategies do not allow companies to keep pace with innovation and end-user demand, Tinker said.
Finally, Tinker emphasized that consumers, not IT, drive the smartphone market. As employee-owned phones start accessing company data, security and privacy become a difficult balancing act, he said.
MobileIron's solution to all these challenges is the MobileIron Virtual Smartphone Platform, which the vendor claims is the first solution to combine data-driven smartphone management with real-time wireless cost control.
Tinker said the MobileIron platform provides visibility into what's on a smartphone and how it's being used. The platform lets both IT and users better secure data and control costs without compromising privacy, even on employee-owned phones.
The Virtual Smartphone Platform is packaged as an easy-to-install appliance that plugs into a corporate network and can be up and running in less than an hour.
MobileIron's solution has "unique attributes such as granular management of files and apps that lends itself to supporting both corporate-liable and individual-liable devices," wrote IDC
analysts Sean Ryan and Stack Crook in their 2010 vendor profile of MobileIron, "A New Paradigm for Mobile Device Management."
Ryan and Crook added that the vendor does this across most of the leading mobile OS platforms (BlackBerry, iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile, with limited support for webOS, and planned support for Android).
The IDC analysts continued: "It provides cost control measures that can be enforced to, for instance, turn off data while roaming. It also has an enterprise application storefront. It has a robust set of features pertaining to management, security, and cost control at a very competitive price either as a cloud-based delivery model or as an on-premise.
Last, it has a unique architecture that simplifies management and relies on servers rather than the device for the heavy lifting during the update/change process."