"For things like children's mental health records, we aren't comfortable trusting the information with somebody else," says Conaway. "However, for things like mobile device management, it's immaterial, because there's less of a security concern."
Cost is also an advantage of cloud-based solutions. Organisations striving to cut costs generally take a close look at cloud-based services, which, as they are subscription-based, require little or no up-front investment. in equipment or training.
IT departments that select cloud-based MDM frequently get users up and running hours after they sign up for the service. Day-to-day operations are minimal, platform upgrades are taken care of and the best providers regularly adding support for new devices.The only thing subscribers have to do is understand how to configure device management through the provider's web-based interface.
Organisations with transitional staff find cloud-based MDM offerings particularly attractive, because they can easily scale both up and down as required. Of course each provider has different upper limits on the number of devices supported, so subscribers wishing to avoid unpleasant surprises should find out what this limit is beforehand.
The on-premise option
Because IT directors of large organisations support a variety of businesses over a vast area, many choose MDM platforms sold for operation on premise, but which are also offered as a cloud service. One such company is Telefonica. "IT departments should look for vendors that provide a variety of deployment options including on-premise and cloud of all types to ensure the solution grows with the needs of their different business users, while at the same time providing some consistency in the service," says its group CIO Phil Jordan.
Perhaps the most important benefit of cloud-based MDM is that if you become dissatisfied with one provider, you can switch to another with relative ease; and if you ever decide you no longer need MDM, you can simply switch it off.
"The reason cloud-based MDM works for us is we aren't making a big investment in a platform we don't think we'll need later," admits the London Borough of Lambeth's Robert Miller.
"We also recognise that the market is changing very fast. Because vendor offers are evolving, by buying a cloud service, we can easily change providers without having to decommission expensive infrastructure."
Tellingly, Miller views MDM as a poor solution for BYOD, because most people are against the idea of having the enterprise manage their personal systems.