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back to article These mobile devices just aren't going away. What'll we do, Trevor?

Mobile Device Management (MDM) has become an important sector of the IT industry, but is also something of a moving target. Companies from the level of my own three man shop to the largest enterprises are weighing their options for securing mobile devices. For many, Microsoft's System Center 2012 is the barometer by which all …

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MDM

MDM makes me smile. Users have started using their own devices because of all the crap loaded onto the corporate endpoints and because it's easy. MDM tries to load some of this crap onto user owned devices or the company owned devices that were easy to use.

The only logical conclusion to this attempt at control is that users will cease to tell IT that they are using other devices, and they will cease to use company owned tablets. Users who create content always have and always will control where that content goes, and there is literally nothing that IT can do to stop them. If I create my documents on my iPad I can then use my personal mail account to distribute those documents. If the company is lucky I might deem them worthy of sending a copy to but locking devices down makes this less likley rather than more likely.

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Re: MDM

If you're working in a regulated industry such as Financial Services or Healthcare, your carefree approach to where data goes would probably result in your employer deeming you worthy of dismissal.

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Re: MDM

In some places and some industries, some kind of lockdown of IT is a necessity and a legal obligation, and using a non-managed e-mail account for business can get you busted. On the other hand, the Dilbert cartoon has (or had) the recurring caricature charactersof Mordac the Preventer of Information Services, or something like that, the guy who won't let you use your USB ports or a password that you actually can remember and can type. And then he laughs at you. Actually laughs.

Most businesses and other ventures have data that they really don't want to have stolen or damaged. And most device misuse, from the point of view of the company, is games, social, and pornography. And maybe online shopping. So the only way to avoid being resisted by your own staff even when they aren't themselves stealing or damaging your data is to let them enjoy their business devices responsibly in all of those ways. Maybe on a time meter and with an appropriate warning that "You are about to access adult services that may contain unadvertised horsemeat", but flexible.

Let's face it, most people who are reading -this- page shouldn't be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: MDM

As someone who used to work in a highly locked down financial services environment, the result of draconian policy was that the company's own IT developers used unverified third party servers to store business sensitive data, and more deals were done 'off-site' using mobile phones and then confirmed in the office.

Obvious anonymous as the FSA may want a word (17 days to go guys)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: MDM @Lusty

I really don't get it?

Your post reads like you take the view that everything that your employers use to ensure their compliance with statute and industry practice is part of a personal vendetta against you. Your post seems to suggest you thumb your nose to them?

By all means stop using corporate devices or corporate solutions on your own device - as you rightly say "they" can't stop you. I wonder though, how using your own unhardened device to store and manipulate sensitive data and perhaps use an unmanaged personal mailbox to share that data would be viewed in terms of your contractual duties around sensitive customer or corporate data.

You may well be right, I.T. Can't stop you, but any number of other people can, be they your employers, regulators or ultimately the cops.

MDM, as much as anything is there to place constraints *and protection* around users. Lose customer details from say a Good Technology mailbox and you're personally protected, but lose it from your mail account or contacts app and you really have no defence. It isn't big and it isn't clever...

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Anonymous Coward

Typical EU

"Users who create content always have and always will control where that content goes, and there is literally nothing that IT can do to stop them"

No, the "crap" is not to stop you working but to protect the enterprise from fines from regulators because they can not demonstrate that they have made reasonable attempts at protecting data/adhering to the rules.

As a EU, do as you wish, but remember, EU's are not exempt from all those rules and regulations imposed on the organisation. Play dice with your future if you wish.

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Re: MDM @Lusty

No you really don't get it, do you. I actually have no lock downs in place on my work laptop as I built it myself. I was actually explaining the perspective of users, having recently interviewed rather a lot of them in a desktop refresh project. A big issue here is that IT folks generally never speak to their userbase, and even rarer will they listen to them. Many MDM solution features are there to fill the feature page out and justify a price. They were invented in think tanks rather than as a result of real world demand. If you listen to your users occasionally you'll find out that they are quite happy to use a corporate laptop with A/V and firewall, but they want to be able to transfer documents with USB drives. Lock down the USB and they will use dropbox. Lock down the internet and they will use email. Lock down the email and they will buy their own laptop. The user who created the IP is generally aware of its security requirements. Doctors know that patient records are confidential for instance, they don't need some nerdy PFY telling them that because they are more educated than the PFY and on the whole quite capable of looking after that data. They are also quite capable of finding the easiest way of achieving their job, and if PFY makes the computer hard to use, it won't be used.

The comment about being let go as a result of working around IT systems is nonsense too. IT works for the business, and those producing the IP are the business. Take a law firm for example - you try sacking a lawyer for using his own device and see how long you last in the IT department! Same goes for the board members (most likely to bring their own device), or any other professional. I also have to add that IT people are notorious for making themselves an exception. If you put this stuff on your users devices, you better make damn sure you've already got it on all of your own devices and configure it in the same way.

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Re: MDM @Lusty

The issue is not about working round IT, per se, it's more about breaking company policy.

For what it's worth, I've seen people get fired for breaking company policy at Law firms, big banks and at a large Financial Services company. One was for sending confidential information to a personal email address, one was for losing data on a USB stick and another was for logging on to a transactional system as someone else because they didn't have the rights to do a task themselves.

In all these cases, the policies were set by the companies, not by a draconian IT department stuck in the 60s.

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Re: MDM @Lusty

"I was actually explaining the perspective of users"

It came across as a personal opinion.

Be careful in over generalising, just because you're working in an environment where IT doesn't normally speak to end users doesn't mean that it is typical.

"Many MDM solution features are there to fill the feature page out and justify a price. They were invented in think tanks rather than as a result of real world demand."

As this article is about MDM, perhaps you could share some of your knowledge as to which features you are talking about...

" I also have to add that IT people are notorious for making themselves an exception."

I note you seem to be no exception: " I actually have no lock downs in place on my work laptop as I built it myself."

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IT Angle

So, what is MDM?

"Mobile Device Management (MDM) has become an important sector of the IT industry, but is also something of a moving target."

That's very nice.

But what *IS* MDM? What does it mean?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So, what is MDM?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_device_management

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Re: So, what is MDM?

...really? This has to be explained? I mean, I realise that some of the newer terms and stuff have to be described while they are still relative unknowns...but...MDM? Do I also need a link for virtualisation? Or RAID? Genuinely curious here...I was under the impression MDM has been "a thing" for long enough that we all knew what it was...

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Re: So, what is MDM?

The Gartner Magic Quadrant report gives list of the core features that it assessed, however the offerings from the established MDM vendors are coloured by their history - for example the Fiberlink and SAP Afaria products have very different development histories and hence have .

Yes it is a moving target, the first Gartner Magic Quadrant for this market was in 2011, even though several of the vendors have been around for some years and had been included in other market's Magic Quadrants. In 2011 a concern was the support of Apple devices, in 2012 its BYOD. Also the types of devices being managed are changing, a few years back the remote device management focus was wholly on laptops, now support for smartphones and tablets is a requirement. Likewise as Trevor pointed out, the MDM offerings are being scaled (and priced) to suit smaller enterprises.

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Meh

Re: So, what is MDM?

"...I was under the impression MDM has been "a thing"

Not being a jerk, buy maybe you have let yourself become too impressionable?

The acronym comes from people who think trendy is "cool". Notice that "Desktop Management" is not "Desktop Device Management". So maybe MDM should be MM, "Mobile Management". However, someone didn't think that sounded cool enough.

Today's newly created acronyms in computing represent the human desire to become cool. MDM probably originated on some FaceBook page by a person trying to "Level UP" via friend count. So, no, many people do not know what MDM stands for, and if they did, they just might wish they didn't.

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Pint

Re: So, what is MDM?

Wake up on the wrong side of the locker today, did you? Here, have a beer.

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Meraki 10 out of 10, For a free product that does so much not just mobile devices you cant really grumble

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Meraki

I swear, it's a cult.

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Consolidation

Just to note that late last year, Cisco purchased Meraki and Citrix purchased Zenprise (not mentioned by Trevor but they were in the Gartner leaders quadrant).

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Re: Consolidation

Yeah, noticed Zenprise, but they didn't pique my interest. I have a list of over 100 MDM companies. I had to cut it down to something readable. :/

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Re: Consolidation

I liked the groupings and particularly the fact that you found Meraki, who obviously went under Gartner's radar - but not Cisco's...

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