Costs versus benefits
MDM software can also be expensive. IT executives say they typically encounter prices in the range of $25 to $50 per device for a perpetual license, plus maintenance fees that can tack on another 20 percent or more per year.
But there's room to negotiate. "MDM vendors are still trying to figure out their price points," says Abraham, who recently reviewed pricing from BoxTone, MobileIron, Good Technology and AirWatch.
Several MDM vendors either currently offer or are adding SaaS versions of their software, which usually come with a different licensing model. AirWatch offers both perpetual licensing and subscription pricing for its cloud service.
Abraham found that paying the one-time perpetual licensing fee, plus annual maintenance, locked in a lower overall cost for the contract period than paying the annual subscription fee, which typically runs between $3.50 and $7 per month per device. It's important to work out the numbers, he says.
Even if it's not perfect, mobile management software is much better than it was just a few years ago -- and it's definitely better than the alternative, says Bond. "MDM tools have a steep learning curve and cost curve, too. But in the future you're going to be mobilizing apps more than you think, so if you think you can get away without using MDM, you're selling yourself short."
Read more about mobile device management in Computerworld's Mobile Device Management Topic Center.