Wearables, IoT spark interest in mobility management tools

BYOD hype has abated, but the problems of unmanaged devices are real.

byod zombies

The hype around BYOD isn’t as loud as it was a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean the problems associated with managing user-owned devices have gone away. And with the growth of wearables and the emergence of IoT, control of mobile technology will become even more of a challenge.

Research from Ovum shows that more than 25% of "bring your own smartphone" activity still happens directly against corporate policy, and only 36% of those who use their own smartphone for work have signed up to any kind of BYOD policy, says Richard Absalom, principal analyst, Enterprise Mobility and Productivity Software, at Ovum.

“So there is still clearly a lot of work to do for IT departments to get on top of the behavior,” Absalom says.

To address a variety of issues as they build out their mobile strategies, more companies are deploying enterprise mobility management (EMM) and other mobile management tools.

EMM products give organizations the ability to secure and manage mobile devices used by employees. They’re designed for use with smartphones and tablets and should be able to support multiple mobile operating systems.

“A good EMM solution can have a big role in managing an organization’s mobile environment,” Absalom says. “There is no one-size-fits-all answer here, but most environments are now a mix of corporate and personal devices across multiple operating systems, in particular iOS and Android, but also Windows Phone in some areas and of course there is a large installed base of BlackBerrys. EMM solutions can apply security settings, as well as access to productivity apps across all of these platforms.”

The state government of Indiana recently formalized a BYOD program, created a working policy document for BYOD and plans to communicate the policy to employees and make it mandatory by the first quarter of 2016.

One of the reasons the state feels comfortable with BYOD is that it deployed an EMM system from MobileIron to help manage mobile devices used in agencies across the state.

Dewand Neely, Indiana Office of Technology

Dewand Neely, Indiana Office of Technology

Indiana’s mobile strategy is limited to Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, and currently includes about 6,000 devices, says Dewand Neely, deputy CIO, desktop and support services at the Indiana Office of Technology.

The majority of the devices can only access corporate contacts, email and calendaring, Neely says. There is a subset of devices that have developed in-house iOS applications, he says. State employees increasingly are relying on mobile devices for daily activities, such as communicating with colleagues and accessing data and applications from the field.

The state first deployed EMM in March 2013, to provide secure access to corporate resources, enforce security and policy to company-owned devices and develop, test and publish custom applications.

The technology has helped ease management worries about the use of mobile devices by government agency employees. “We have been able to address various security concerns with this technology and offer a more customized experience for the different agencies and business units that we serve,” Neely says. “This has also dramatically improved the speed in which we can develop, test and deploy in-house applications."

With the system, the state government has the ability to track lost or stolen devices as well as remotely wipe data from those devices. Managers can configure devices and enforce security policies automatically. The EMM product allows the IT department to make mass changes to a security policy and push it out to the entire workforce without manual intervention.

In addition to EMM, the state government is in the process of setting up the Device Enrollment Program (DEP) with Apple. DEP provides a streamlined way to deploy corporate-owned iOS devices, whether they’re purchased directly from Apple or an Apple reseller.

“This is going to be a great utility for us, as once it is completely set up, all iOS devices that Indiana orders will be [configured] with our MobileIron MDM server,” Neely says. “In essence, the devices can then be drop-shipped directly to our end users and during the initial iPad out-of-the-box set up, the device will automatically phone home and pull down our MDM configurations."

Also leveraging EMM is pharmaceutical and chemical company Merck KGaA of Germany, which is managing nearly 20,000 corporate-owned and about 1,000 BYOD devices. It’s using a cloud-based EMM offering from AirWatch to gain control of the mobile environment. The company also uses the EMM platform to provision corporate apps and content that mobile users need, while maintaining privacy and data security.

More than half of all Merck employees own a corporate smartphone or tablet. The majority are iOS devices, with a small number of Windows phones as well. Merck recently launched a formal BYOD program that supports Android and iOS platforms.

The company deployed the EMM platform more than two years ago, while fully decommissioning an on-premise BlackBerry enterprise solution. The EMM is not only used to manage smartphones and tablets, but also to deploy a container solution for the BYOD devices as well as manage corporate Mac and Windows 10 hybrids, says Matthias Feldmann, director of IT and head of the Center of Excellence for Mobility & Cloud at Merck.

The EMM solution has provided benefits such as increased agility with distributing mobile apps, use of data encryption on mobile devices, BYOD support and cost efficiencies, Feldmann says.

The need for EMM systems has increased rapidly over the past year, as organizations look for solutions that can manage all aspects of mobile security including the devices, software, data and applications, according to a May 2015 report from research and consulting firm The Radicati Group.

The study, Enterprise Mobility Management Market, 2015-2019, forecasts that worldwide revenues for the EMM market will total $1.49 billion by year-end 2015. This is expected to grow to more than $4.4 billion by year-end 2019, representing an average annual growth rate of more than 30% in the next four years.

emm market madness The Radicati Group

The report covers the four main areas of EMM functionality: mobile device management, including device-level management features and device level analytics; mobile security features such as encryption, authentication, single sign-on and data loss prevention; mobile application management, including containerization, app wrapping, and app usage analytics; and mobile content management, with features such as secure email, calendar, document management and software integration.

EMM is available in a variety of form factors including on-premises, cloud-based and hybrid. As the popularity of cloud-based solutions grows, the report says, vendors that started out offering on-premises EMM have had to add cloud-based offerings. And those vendors that started out offering cloud-based EMM are adding on-premises products to cater to organizations that still are not comfortable with cloud-based offerings.

Radicati Group is not alone in predicting healthy growth for EMM. Research firm Ovum in a September 2015 report predicted that the global EMM software market will grow nearly fourfold by 2019. Ovum says EMM software “is still a relatively niche part of the overall IT stack.”

But mobility has an impact on every kind of business and as such EMM is playing an increasingly important role in managing and securing apps and devices of all kinds, the report says.

One of the more prominent trends with mobile devices in recent years is that they have become more powerful. With more compute power, these devices are being used as full-fledged computers, says Sara Radicati, president and CEO of The Radicati Group.

“This means it needs all the protection and remote management that any desktop/laptop would have, with the added complexity of being always off network,” Radicati says.

Wearable devices are sure to bring additional challenges for mobility management, and organizations will rely on EMM to help with that.

Merck is currently testing the use of wearables such as Apple Watch, but to date has only used them in a limited business context, Feldmann says. The AirWatch EMM system already supports most wearables and more are being added constantly, he says.

TBI, a Dutch construction and engineering company that uses an EMM product from Citrix to manage its mobile environment, is testing the use of Google Glass and Oculus Rift for various engineering applications, says Jhon Megens, IT manager.

“With more than 4,000 engineers in our network, when an engineer with a certain expertise has to execute a task for a heating system, for example, there is always a possibility that additional expertise may be necessary,” Megens says.

He adds, “With the help of Google Glass, a TBI engineer could call for help and get connected to a person with the right expertise. Remotely, a second expert can audio visually instruct and assist the engineer in the field.”

TBI is looking into the possibility of using wearables for the pre-construction phase of a building or object. “With the help of Oculus, customers and third parties can more easily express their wishes, demands and advice ahead of time,” Megens says.

Looking ahead, IoT promises even more complexity, with countless devices, consumer products and corporate assets connected to the Internet. “All vendors are gearing up for IoT, but at present the IoT that is in use is still very basic,” Radicati says.

Violino is a freelance writer. He can be reached at bviolino@optonline.net.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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