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Word on the street: Mobile device management is dead

Todd Morrison

Companies with SAP mobile deployments should look beyond applications that focus on mobile device

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management (MDM) or other standalone functions and instead consider more integrated enterprise mobility management (EMM) platforms, including vendors like Sybase Afaria and BoxTone, according to analyst Chris Marsh of Yankee Consulting Group in Boston.

“MDM, if not old news, is no longer driving value in this part of the marketplace. It’s moving on to something else,” Marsh said.

In his report, entitled MDM is Dead -- Long Live EMM!, Marsh writes that as mobile capability has grown in popularity, managing the technologies has fallen into broad silos, including mobile device management (MDM), telecom expense management (TEM) and mobile application management (MAM), according to Marsh.

What’s needed is an emphasis on uniting those silos of functionality into one comprehensive EMM platform. Some have successfully navigated this approach, which allows companies a more flexible, integrated approach to security, policy and compliance. Other vendors, Marsh contends, have been less successful.

“If those things aren’t necessarily tied together, it’s more of a headache for IT,” Marsh said. “If you buy an integrated platform, it allows for more interoperability. Technical issues are less of a problem and there’s greater visibility.”

Combining, scaling for mobile device management
One of the primary benefits of going with an EMM platform is the ability to scale settings, procedures and policies across a company’s mobile landscape, according to Marsh. 

One example of where problems might lie is in having two separate systems for device management and another for application management but using both for security purposes, according to Marsh.

“Device management allows you to maybe remotely wipe the device if it gets lost, if a company is afraid of company data being lost or accessed by someone else. But likewise, application management provides a similar kind of ability for companies to wipe applications,” Marsh said.

“If you have two separate solutions, dealing with those two things, then it’s obviously not joined up. If you have one platform, that kind of security is much easier to enforce.”

There are other efficiencies to be had by implementing an integrated EMM platform, including the ability to have one centralized place for help desk issues and diagnostics, Marsh said.

Does SAP mobile lead the pack? 
Marsh said SAP gets high marks for its Sybase Afaria 7.0 EMM platform -- even though there are areas in which SAP can improve on the software.

Afaria is the underlying foundation for device management and supports things like employee BYOD, or “bring your own device” policies. It integrates closely with Sybase Unwired Platform, SAP’s mobility platform, as well as Sybase 365, the company’s global messaging infrastructure. Still, Marsh said that he’s not convinced Afaria is as integrated an EMM platform as it could be compared with other vendors, like BoxTone.

“I think some of those assets arose separately, so I think they now have to do the hard work of tying them together,” Marsh said about Sybase Afaria

“SAP still needs to demonstrate how its portfolio of different technologies, when put together, actually makes for a unified EMM platform rather than a bundled set of technology components,” Marsh writes in the report. “However, its goal to create such a platform, the strength of its individual owned assets and its partnership strategy is clear.”

BoxTone on the other hand, Marsh said, was designed from the beginning to be integrated platform of EMM services to address the lifecycle of a business’s mobility assets and related processes.

BoxTone’s platform includes MAM and MDM, as well as a variety of managed business and operations services, and asset and account management, among others. Another advantage of BoxTone is the way it has integrated its ecosystem partners into its EMM platform.

“Part of BoxTone’s vision is to have this enterprise mobility network, where they have relationships with other providers, so if you want to take module A from someone else, you can still use BoxTone,” Marsh said. “You just get that third-party service through that platform.”


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