IBM's push for MDM market share swings into high gear

Fiberlink boss says mobile device management is still underappreciated, underused

Chris Clark, president and COO of mobile device management company Fiberlink, has no doubts about the importance of mobile device management.

Chris Clark

Chris Clark

"Mobile is interesting, in that it's really an age [of its own]," he told the audience at an event in Cambridge, Mass., on Wednesday afternoon.

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The kickoff event was for the new version of Fiberlink's MaaS360 (Mobile-as-a-Service) MDM offering, which now includes broader endpoint management capabilities from the company's new corporate parent, IBM. A public cloud system, MaaS360 provides a robust and heavily customizable framework for managing employee mobile devices.

The bring-your-own-device phenomenon is established fact at this point, according to Clark, but many companies still haven't begun to take a firm hand in managing the trend.

A study released earlier this month by Infonetics found that almost half of IT decision-makers surveyed relied solely on the mobile operating systems themselves for management and security.

"What the industry needs are solutions capable of securing all company- and employee-owned devices from the same console, to ensure an identical level of protection for all devices, which means deploying security in the network or cloud as well as on the device," said principal security analyst Jeff Wilson.

For his part, Clark said that reliance on Android and iOS alone for management purposes is a bad idea.

"If you thought you knew the operating system, just wait two weeks," until the next version is introduced, he said.

It'll take a cultural shift to embed MDM more firmly into the minds of IT leaders.

"When I see companies trying to recruit 25-year-olds … they have to shift," Clark said. "I see companies that are on the cutting edge of commerce, and they still don't get it."

That said, MDM is still a somewhat immature market, in large part because many offerings have significant gaps in either functionality or compatibility. According to Clark, this makes for a lot of uncertainty and tight competition.

"I don't think there's any vendor loyal to you in the mobile space yet," he said.

According to past Magic Quadrant reports from Gartner Research, IBM was a player in MDM before the Fiberlink acquisition, but not yet a leader, offering some MDM capabilities as part of its more general endpoint management framework.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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