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Mobile Device Management (MDM) Deployment Remains Elementary and Immature

Enterprise security professionals point to problems with integration, scale, and support for various mobile device types

By joltsik on Mon, 02/03/14 - 11:16am.

Now that it’s February, the entire security industry (sans a few noble protesters) is gearing up for this month’s RSA Conference in San Francisco. Once again, I anticipate a lot of buzz around all-things mobile computing security this year just as there was in 2013. MDM/MAM is sure to come up too – what with Citrix’s buying Zenprise last year, IBM’s purchase of Fiberlink, and VMware’s recent acquisition of AirWatch.

Yup, everyone will be talking MDM, MAM, mobile business processes, mobile development, and so on. They’ll be pointing out killer applications, wonderfully productive use cases, and burgeoning application development trends as well.

Great story, but the fact remains that most of the market is still only toe-dipping in this area. Soon-to-be-published ESG research indicates that less than half (48%) of enterprise organizations (i.e. more than 1,000 employees) have even deployed an MDM solution. What’s more, only 43% of those organizations that have deployed MDM have selected one product as an enterprise standard (i.e. so .48 x .43 = 21% of enterprises that have deployed MDM and have selected on product as an enterprise standard). In aggregate, most enterprise are just getting started or deploying products tactically at a departmental level.

ESG also asked enterprise security and IT pros working at organizations that have deployed MDM to comment on the challenges they’ve had with MDM thus far. Here are some examples of their issues:

• 38% say that MDM is difficult to integrate with other security technologies

• 35% say that they have experienced scalability problems with MDM as far as supporting a large number of mobile devices

• 30% say that MDM features and functionality work differently on different types of mobile devices

• 30% say that MDM is more difficult to use than they anticipated

• 29% say that they have experienced difficulty with MDM implementation

In my humble opinion, this data is yet another indicator of market immaturity. Enterprise organizations are finding it cumbersome to deploy, operate, integrate, and scale MDM which reinforces that MDM is still in the “point tools” phase of its lifecycle. Compare this to just about any enterprise-class product that is built for scale, integration, central command-and-control, and formal IT operations processes. See what I mean?

Of course, this data is representative of the entire enterprise market and there are certainly advanced organizations who are far ahead. I’ve heard some compelling use cased from customers of Good Technology and MobileIron who’ve progressed well beyond basic MDM implementation and usage and are doing incredible things with mobile computing overall. Nevertheless, these firms represent the leading-edge of the market – a small percentage of the total.

To be clear, I understand the vision here. The fact is that mobile computing (and a cloud back-end) represents the future of application development which translates into the future of IT. While most organizations are racing toward mobile computing Nirvana, the majority of enterprises remain closer to the starting line than the finish line, and pacing themselves for the long road ahead.