The mobile management fever is about to break

Vendors have gone silly finding security 'needs' to sell, while IT has discovered life with BYOD isn't so bad after all

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Although dozens of MDM vendors are still jockeying for position, three -- Good, MobileIron, and AirWatch -- have emerged as the clear leaders in terms of market adoption (per 451's research) and thought leadership. All three are pushing hard to get out of device-oriented security and into broader information security.

Plus, there's a movement to erasing the artificial division between mobile and desktop management. MobileIron's MDM tools can now manage Macs, as can AirWatch's MDM. Symantec and Centrify have extended their Windows management tools to Macs and iOS devices.

The consolidation hasn't stopped the flow of new companies targeting IT with security solutions they didn't know they needed.

Of course, some of that new blood is healthy, providing new ideas and perhaps more effective approaches to a security industry whose perimeter mentality has utterly failed in the connected Internet age. Bromium's concept of microvirtualization at the task level is intriguing, for example. And there are specialty needs in some industry segments that can't be fully satisfied by the mainstream products; specialty vendors can fill those needs.

There are real issues to resolve, namely around establishing information management policies that work across apps and platforms, so we don't get a never-ending set of silos, each with a different mix of apps, policies, and platforms. That will require something akin to Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync, which brought to device management a core standard that Apple adopted and set as the baseline for all -- then extended to meet deeper security needs. Google, Samsung, Motorola Mobility, and Microsoft followed to a lesser extent. That made the notion of MDM both viable and useful.

For information management, all we have today are proprietary, ad hoc tool sets. An information management API created or adopted by Apple would instantly change the game in a good way. Hazelton believes this will ultimately happen: Apple will come up with such APIs so that its platform can remain entrenched.

What we need more than anything is a rationalized approach to digital management, one that doesn't treat mobile devices in a vacuum. Or cloud services. Or PCs. One that doesn't confuse the endpoint with the information being used or acted on. One that understands personal and work boundaries are largely gone, so context matters greatly -- and is variable.

As IT's BYOD security fever breaks and the knee-jerk response to block or bind anything gives way to a thoughtful, holistic assessment, we'll all be better for it. We can then move to more value-creating enablement under a reasonable security framework -- and get healthy again.

This article, "The mobile management fever is about to break," was originally published at Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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