Mobile device management -- what you should know

The number and variety of personal devices in the office is growing rapidly.

One of the biggest technology trends this year has been the continuing influx of consumer-oriented devices into the workplace. From iPads and iPhones to Android phones and tablets, 2011 will go down as the year the consumerization of IT reached a critical mass. It's no longer a question of whether IT departments will support and embrace consumer-first devices, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs and the expanded sphere of mobile platforms -- now, the issue is more about when and how.

IT departments have a lot to keep in mind: identifying employee-owned devices on the network; selecting recommended platforms for users; provisioning devices for secure access and centralized monitoring (whether company- or employee-owned); dealing with lost or stolen devices; easily wiping corporate data from employee devices; coordinating volume purchases from public app stores (particularly Apple's); and publishing in-house apps.

Most of these needs can be handled with any of several mobile device management (MDM) suites such as MobileIron, Sybase Afaria, AirWatch, Tangoe and even RIM's recently announced BlackBerry Mobile Fusion. Each offers a specific set of supported platforms, features, and enterprise systems integration tools.

But that's just scratching the surface of the management needs likely to arise as more workers bring their devices into the office.

MDM is just the beginning

Knowing that you can meet the core security needs of your designated list of platforms is a great start: the sheer number and quality of options already available should help IT managers breath a little easier.

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