The beginning of the end of BYOD as we know it

F5 Networks's recently released Mobile App Manager is a sign of things to come for the MDM market.

Earlier this week, the market leader in application delivery controllers (ADCs), F5 Networks, added to its security portfolio by announcing its own BYOD solution, known as Mobile Application Manager. Mobile App Manager is designed to remove many of the challenges associated with BYOD by taking the burden off the device and pushing the functions into the network.

The industry is still in the early days of BYOD and many companies have looked to mobile device management (MDM) solutions to help enterprises handle the influx of consumer devices. In my opinion, and I’ve said this for a while, traditional MDM solutions are a great stop gap technology to help deliver BYOD quickly, but these solutions are device-centric and that limits their scalability.

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Devices are coming into the enterprise at a faster and faster pace. Trying to manage BYOD from the device and through the user is an old-school IT concept. Mobile computing is a network-centric compute model, meaning the network needs to play a bigger part in giving IT the control and security it had when IT owned the devices. One example of the limitations of current MDM solutions is the way it handles onboard data. If a device is lost or stolen, most current MDM solutions wipe the device clean of all data instead of having the ability to leave personal content and wiping out only business content.

Mobile App Manager is a SaaS offering that works with F5’s Big IP Access Policy Manager (APM) to securely connect corporate applications to the user’s device. The solution manages only the enterprise content and applications on the device instead of trying to manage the device. Using a function called App Wrapper inside App Manager, IT departments can secure both off-the-shelf applications and custom applications before they’re made available to employees on their personal devices. The management interface enables IT to manage single devices or groups of devices and then push or pull back applications and data to the devices. If a remote wipe or lock is needed, only the secure workspace is impacted, instead of everything on the device.

This gives the worker the best of both worlds. Secure access to applications through a PIN-protected interface combined with leaving all personal photos, contacts and content alone. The employee’s personal information is protected from the company and the company’s information is protected against threats coming from the personal data.

This version of Mobile App Manager is available for both Android and iOS, which will cover the majority of devices in the workplace today. Since the solution is network based, it removes most of the complexity from the user and gives IT much more control than having to do things on a device-by-device basis.

I believe we’re starting to see the beginning of the end of the red hot MDM market. More and more network vendors are rolling out solutions for BYOD that make the traditional solutions somewhat of a commodity. F5’s Mobile App Manager is a great example of a solution that embeds some of the components of MDM but offers more than the traditional solutions. Let’s tip our hats to the current MDM solutions, as they did provide rapid onboarding of devices, but let’s also recognize that it’s time to move this market past MDM and focus on user experience and policy management.

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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