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Managing mobile devices like barcode scanners and purpose-built smart devices

IT Best Practices Alert By Brian Musthaler, Network World
September 30, 2011 01:49 PM ET
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Bring your own device (BYOD) is being adopted by many organizations today as a way to leverage smart devices in the workplace without having to purchase them. However, the increased reliance on BYOD combined with corporate owned smart devices begs the need to have processes and policies that both manage and differentiate corporate and personal devices and their related data.

Employee-owned devices are double-edged swords

Smartphones and tablets are the typical focus of scrutiny recently, but many companies operate other types of devices that also need to be managed. For example, handheld barcode scanners, price scan kiosks, and even Coke Freestyle soda dispensers.

BYOD is being adopted by many organizations as a way to leverage smart devices in the workplace without having to purchase them. However, the increased reliance on BYOD combined with corporate owned smart devices begs the need to have processes and policies that both manage and differentiate corporate and personal devices and their related data. What's more, many companies operate other devices such as handheld barcode scanners, price scan kiosks, and even Coke Freestyle soda dispensers that need to be managed.

Consider the barcode scanners used in many industries for everything from recording medications to taking inventory to tracking packages. Often these devices run the Windows Mobile operating system and have purpose-built applications. Both the OS and the application software need to be updated and configured from time to time, and the devices themselves need to be tracked and managed for configuration settings such as Wi-Fi, battery and screen usage.

As the use of mobile devices in every aspect of enterprise operations increases, IT organizations face a slew of challenges managing them. It’s not uncommon to have to deal with a variety of operating systems, or unique control issues, or the challenge of integrating unique device functionality with existing enterprise applications. What’s more, administrators must worry about security issues and creating an integrated mobile device management (MDM) program. 

Test: How to protect smartphones and tablets 

According to Gartner’s "Hype Cycle for Wireless Devices, Software and Services 2011" report, many organizations have been using MDM tools that are specific to a device platform or that manage a certain part of the life cycle, resulting in the adoption of fragmented MDM toolsets. And in addition to the unique MDM solutions, companies today utilize a variety of management solutions for their servers, laptops and desktops. Having these siloed device management solutions is untenable. It’s much more practical to have a single solution and a unified view into the management of all their computing devices.

Odyssey Software delivers that unified view by integrating MDM with existing system management tool sets. Most management vendors treat the mobile platform as something unique. In contrast, Odyssey Software embraces the predominant systems management platforms that most companies have for managing their desktops and servers; for example, Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 and Systems Center Configuration Manager 2007.

Linda Musthaler is a principal analyst with Essential Solutions Corporation.

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