How mobile device management works

Smartphones have become anarchy in a pocket. Here's what you need to know about mobile device management.

By , ITworld |  Mobile & Wireless, MDM, Mobile Device Management

Smartphones have become anarchy in a pocket. They have the power of a full desktop system of just a decade ago, and that power is increasing quickly. With that power is ostensible responsibility, but smartphone users are often either unaware or oblivious to how much accessibility and potential damage can be done with smartphones—and the large amount and types of data that many smartphones can store.

Without control, mobile devices are walking security time bombs in addition to being fascinating tools. As a result, system administrators find themselves becoming involved and responsible for an entirely new category of devices, which often have far wider management variance than is found in server farms and cubical villages—lots of models, lots of operating systems, lots of carriers, and perhaps lots of bad habits to break and potentially damaging behavior to confine.

Mobile device users can become frustrated, too. In their quest to do their jobs, mobile device users are offered comparatively sophisticated communications platforms that they're often untrained to effectively use, control, and make productive. Often a single common application like email is an organization's incentive for smartphone use, and increasingly- the prospect of using a line-of-business application or set of communications features becomes the compelling reason to provision smartphones and mobile devices like the iPad and tablets. Like any new hammer, it seeks a nail, and initial deployments may lead to rapid fleet expansions, depending on popularity and real productivity with new mobile apps.

Obtaining applications away from the auspices of organizational distribution mechanisms can also be fraught with difficulty. Some sources of applications vet available applications more thoroughly than others, as recent "app store" problem investigations have determined. Some organizations have gone to the trouble of hosting their own application resources—like app stores— and sequester mobile device downloads strictly from these resources in a quest to contain user download behavior. Often, these "company stores" provide popular publicly-found (and checked) applications alongside those associated with the organizations desired vendors and mobility-related resources.

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