Mobile Device Management Spotlight: Fiberlink MaaS360

A spotlight on MDM provider Fiberlink.

Welcome to the Sixth installment of the MDM spotlight series.

There is little doubt that smart mobile devices are a boon for individual productivity, but corporate IT groups are scrambling to accommodate them on their networks. Accordingly, there has been an explosion of interest and adoption of  Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions.  One of the top tier players in this space is Fiberlink. Fiberlink sits in the Gartner MDM Leader MQ and was named a winner in the Network World MDM Clear Choice Test

I got a chance to talk with Chris Clark, the President & Chief Operating Officer at Fiberlink, about his company's MDM solution, mobile security market trends and recent advances in corporate-focused features. Here are some of the highlights from the interview; I've taken the liberty of paraphrasing Chris's answers in some cases.

Q: Tell us a little about Fiberlink's MaaS360 MDM solution.

Fiberlink is a 20-year old company, historically doing laptop management in the cloud. We have a long legacy of delivering cloud-based services to the market.

Our goal has always been to make over-the-air mobile device provisioning safe and easy for enterprises. 

We have a multi-tenant SaaS model where we can provide the full lifecycle of mobile management. The difference with MaaS360 is we are a 24/7, upgrade-capable platform. So when iOS 6 came out we were ready to support it day zero. Good thing since about 30% of our customers' devices were coming online with iOS 6 that same day. Bottomline is a cloud service can upgrade much faster than an on-premise solution.  For SaaS, we don't charge per service; you just pay a single per-device charge. One price, nothing else that goes on. With the extreme ease-of-use of our fully automated SaaS setup, there is no need for a support call or an onsite visit. In fact, for deployments of 0-1000 devices no call or onsite visit would be required. Of course, you can always call us if you feel the need.

Fiberlink has made mobile very easy and very safe for enterprises. 

Q: How has the MDM market changed in the last 12 months?

The world is in the mobile age right now. 

We have seen the customers' voice around security become much stronger in the area of protecting sensitive documents and mobile devices. At the same time, the BYOD fever has been competing with security. A softer trend emerging is IT orgs are trying to become more of a friend to the business. In other words, IT is becoming a business enabler for the organization. If you've been at this a little while, IT has been seen as a cost center even though they have been trying to be an enabler. This mobile age is going to promote the CIOs to be able to affect the top line of the business, not just the bottom line. They are able to help employees with contributing to the company in a safe and productive way via mobile. In the end, this allows the company to be more competitive.

Q: What's next in MDM. How will MDM change in the next 24 months?

We will see a lot of innovation around security, certificates, integration with enterprise systems like LDAP, AD, and other business systems.  We can integrate with these systems in less than an hour. Over the next 3-4 years, you're going to see lots of need for MDM given the multiple operating systems for mobile and their features not being uniform. Even with Windows 8, you have ActiveSync for Win8 RT and SCCM for Win 8 on mobile.

The world is not getting any simpler; each mobile vendor and mobile OS are trying to build their own ecosystem and product differentiation. Reporting, integration, and applications are going to be more important for the MDM market. Mobile OS and vendor fragmentation will still be the order of the day. 

Q: What are you keeping your eye on for major disruptors?

The major disruptors I'm not sure of. If there is a rash of security hacks and events targeting mobile devices you will see an even faster uptake of MDM to make these devices safe. We haven't seen the Paris Hilton-like attacks on mobile yet. 

I really don't see a major disruption happening any time soon. I don't see virtualization really happening any faster on mobile than it is today. We don't see that happening very quickly. 

Q: The MDM market is getting very crowded these days, how do you differentiate yourself?

Speed.  We can enroll 10,000 devices and integrate it with Enterprise systems faster than anyone else.  In the mobile age, time to trust is one of the most important objectives that companies are trying to achieve with their employees.  Striking a balance with employees and their devices and trusting the enterprise MDM. 

MaaS360's speed is based on three key things:

First, MaaS360 is a true multi-tenant cloud platform and business. All front-end (customer facing GUI, gateways, etc.) and back-end systems (apps, databases, billing, help desk ticketing, etc.) are provisioning instantly from our online storefront. So, customers do not need to wait, like they do with other vendors, for hosting operations to rack-and-stack remote server implementations and configure site-to-site VPNs for enterprise integration. The MaaS360 cloud expands elastically with customers and does not require any pre-requisite operations for a customer to go from 1 device to 10,000 or more devices enrolled over even a very short timeframe.

Second, MaaS360's Cloud Extender technology allows enterprise to self-integrate their corporate systems, such as Active Directory, Exchange, and Certificate Authorities, with the MaaS360 cloud securely without making any configuration changes to corporate firewalls and network configurations. Fiberlink has built over a decade of remote access experience and hundreds of millions of device transactions into it's highly innovative Cloud Extender technology thus removing the complexity of traversing enterprise boundaries and integrating with enterprise systems.

Third, MaaS360's user experience has integrated and contextual, guided setup for customers, plus has earned a reputation for being simple and intuitive in both setup and daily use.

Q:  Will you support Win Mobile 8 or windows 8 RT at FCS?

Yes.  One window, one system to manage all operating systems. 

Q: Are there system linkages between your products that enable better usability?

Yes, we offer Wi-Fi geo-fencing per group across users.

This determines where you can go and where you can't go.  Whitelist and black list. 

One window that can show all of your devices, both mobile and laptops/PCs

Q:  What is your take on the viability of VDI and virtualization on mobile devices?

If you get under the covers of these types of solutions, the nexus of this work is the protection of the data on a mobile device.  I think it is the story customers want to hear. But, we don't think it is necessary to happen if the MDM platforms are good enough to ensure adequate protection and security.  We think where we are today we can do that, as long as the device is safe and there is real-time policy management.  This is a better value than virtualization. 

Q:  Do you have a business is SaaS or cloud based.  What can you tell us about the reliability of your cloud offering?

Only cloud.  We think server was never a long-term strategy for an organization.  Certainly an intermediate, but not long term.  I believe that these devices run like water, they find every crevice.  We even see state and local government moving to cloud.  Even federal Government.

Fiberlink was the first round of cloud providers to achieve FISMA certification from GSA, as were Google, and Microsoft.  Many other vendors who claim FISMA certification have their product hosted in a third party facility that is certified, and don't actually have it themselves. In reality, the government probably hasn't reviewed the company's specific security guidelines and procedures. Our certification was provided directly to us, so we have personally gone through the rigorous process. So, they have a certificate, we have been given the authority to operate (OTA), by the federal government of the United States.  In addition to FISMA Certification, we included the necessary documentation for FedRAMP. Outside of FISMA, we have been SOC 2 type II compliance since 2007.  Type II is specifically designed for service providers, while a SOC-1 is supposed to be used as a replacement to SAS-70 for financial institutions.

Q: What makes your SaaS cloud offering superior in the MDM market?

MaaS360 is built on a mature cloud-based architecture that is multi-tenant, fully redundant, secure and on-demand. The platform has been in operation for five years supporting over 1.5 million devices with the performance, reliability and scalability that enterprise customers expect.

Feature updates are available instantly and require no ongoing maintenance. You can effortlessly scale up from 10 to 100,000 devices as there are no infrastructure (hardware, database) limitations.

MaaS360 is the only MDM solution with Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification (providing the authority to operate from the Federal Government) for its compliance with strict information security regulations and guidelines, providing customers with peace of mind.

What are your views on the MDM market and its future? Have you deployed MDM yet or have plans to? What use cases do you require an MDM to solve?

Thanks to Chris for his insights and information.

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Check out the rest of the MDM Spotlight Series

The opinions and information presented here are my PERSONAL views and not those of my employer. I am in no way an official spokesperson for my employer.

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