The future of mobile endpoint management: Devices won't matter

Instead of focusing on physical devices, try a new mobile endpoint management method: Look at ways to deliver data, identity and access to services.

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PC and mobile endpoint managementhave begun to converge with identity management, so some IT shops are managing data, identity and access to services rather than a physical device.

Endpoint management

Part 1: How the evolution of the workplace is changing endpoint management

Part 2: How changing desktop access helps improve endpoint management

Part 3: The future of mobile endpoint management: Devices won't matter

That shift makes the actual management of an endpoint device -- tablet, laptop, desktop, thin client, smartphone, whatever future device -- irrelevant in the big scheme of things, said Benjamin Robbins, principal at Palador Inc., a mobile consultancy in Seattle.

For example, an employee who travels frequently is rarely, if ever, accessing corporate resources behind the company firewall. That worker logs in from remote locations on unsecure wireless networks provided by coffee shops, hotels and airports from various mobile computing devices. Yet, even under those circumstances, road warriors still expect access to corporate resources because organizations expect them to be productive, said Krish Kupathil, CEO at AgreeYa Mobility, a mobile software vendor in Mountain View, Calif.

If organizations are concerned only with mobile endpoint management as it relates to the physical device, then they won’t be managing the stuff that enables secure mobile productivity, he said.

With mobile productivity increasing and potential data security threats at every turn, organizations can no longer focus on managing just physical devices, which was easy to do through BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) when BlackBerry smartphones were the only mobile game in town, Robbins said.

Now, it’s better to approach management and security using several layers such as application management, identity access controls and some light device management, he added.

Unlike traditional Windows PCs, mobile devices aren’t capable of the same robust management and security features yet, said John Little, chief technology officer at Venture Technologies in Ridgeland, Miss. “They are definitely getting better but not quite up to the same level,” he added.

As a result, organizations will probably need different tools to manage and secure the mobile stack for the time being. That might not be the case for long, however. The line between mobile endpoint management and traditional PC endpoint management is beginning to blur even for vendors. Companies that started out on the mobile side have expanded into PCs and vice versa.

“Because of all these new technologies, we think IT will be managing all of it from an identity and context point of view and layering in security on top of that,” said Ben Goodman, VMware’s end-user computing evangelist. It’s the main reason the company, best known for its virtualization products, has pulled together physical, virtual and mobile management products into the just-released Horizon Suite.

Typically, companies take the tools and techniques from the previous era and apply them to the new -- “even the first cars looked a lot like a horse and buggy,” Robbins said. VMware, however, is using what it has learned in mobile management for other product, he said.

“Some of things we’re learning from iOS app management, we are bringing them back into ThinApp,” Goodman said. “App virtualization on Windows has until now been about the ease of install or compatibility or patching. It hasn’t been a management or control technology, but we think it could be."

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