The mobile device management market

Over the past two months, some of my time has been dedicated to a very specific project for a customer.  Simply put, I was charged with evaluating seven of the top MDM suppliers (think “magic quadrant”) to find one the most technically suitable for a customer.  To me, this is a busman’s holiday.  I am already interested in this market area but actually getting work-time to sit down and evaluate products, talk to vendors and compare them is a gift.  Some observations.

  • This is a very competitive marketplace.  It is difficult to find differentiators between many of the vendors.
  • Key product differentiators between some of the companies early to the game and “chasers” are disappearing fast.
  • Almost all can do SaaS, on-premises or hybrid solutions.
  • Always think latency.
  • The cornerstone architecture of all of them is very similar, with software placed on-premises that communicates with the enterprise mail servers.
  • Apple only open their gates a little, so the leading brands pretty much have equal mdm features in that space.
  • Samsung SAFE is going to get very important in the corporate world.  RIM should be concerned as now “consumer” devices are starting to offer serious encryption and data separation.  This is only beginning.
  • Geofencing is very very cool.  Location tracking of devices is nothing new, but applying policies based on them has many use cases.  Your rules may vary of course.
  • Products that check to see if the device is encrypted are cool.  Really cool ones encrypt all their data and applications on top of the device encryption.
  • The MDM companies boast fantastic growth rates
  • This is a fast moving world.  Products “designed by committee” may not be able to keep up.

A few more human-related observations

  • I appreciate the market is busy.  But having to chase vendors to get a technical demo and practically beg for conference calls really puts me off recommending you to anyone.
  • A deadline is not a target.  It’s a deadline.
  • If the premise of your presentation is saying how bad all the competitors are compared to you, it is an opportunity missed.
  • There are a lot more “old” devices in the corporate world than you may think.  IPAQs anyone?


  1. Chris Miller Said,

    December 24, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

    Good overview. While we try to standardize on a single MDM, it is hard based on what customers were told during one of those random presentations. I have reviewed and tested quite a few now and you hit it, the differences (outside of where a menu item is located) are quickly vanishing

  2. pmooneynet Said,

    December 24, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

    I skipped sales presentations – went to tech presales folk only. Bypass (and directly call out) the bullshit.

  3. Ed Brill Said,

    December 25, 2012 @ 1:33 am

    Good article Paul. You introduced some terms that were new to me, such as geofencing. I found this link really helpful, maybe others will, too.

    I hope the IBM endpoint manager team promptly returned your calls 😃

  4. Simon Barratt Said,

    December 25, 2012 @ 3:28 am

    And…? Your overall view is??? …to be continued??

  5. pmooneynet Said,

    December 25, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

    @Ed – To put it in context. Imagine arriving at your office and your device becoming “corporate” with corporate data and restricted settings, but when you leave, it becomes more consumer, removing the data and relaxing restrictions. So may use cases (especially with BYOD in mind). I’m happy to discuss this stuff with you (or your team) at connect if its of any use to people. Hell, I would have put this in as a BOF if I thought about it.

    @Simon – Im afraid it was a commissioned piece of work, so I cannot really give away my findings.

  6. Barb Skedel Said,

    December 26, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

    I think some companies believe mobile device management is what they need and really it’s enterprise device management (including items such as telecom management and application management). Bottom line, you need to go into the evaluation with solid requirements, and just not secure delivery of mail and PIM. One thing we found different between some of the vendors was how they communicated to multiple Traveler servers. So if money to spend and administration of server hardware is a factor, this should definitely be a key question to the vendors.

  7. Darren Duke Said,

    December 26, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

    Start with Airwatch then compare everyone else to them.

  8. Peter Meuser Said,

    December 27, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

    I spent some time of this year in evaluating some of the “magic quadrant” solutions for independent magazine reviews and also collect hand-on experience in the last month with a multi-national mdm rollout project.
    Having to work with “leading” products on a daily basis shows a lot of shortcomings convering simple mass administrative tasks. This and also to have meaningful reports is often overseen a an important base of work, when the products are evaluated from desk or just in a small test environment.
    All mdm vendors will rush to add useful (and much needed) mam and containerization to their products in 2013, which will change the landscape and also should sort out some of the offerings without development power in their back.

    @Ed: I am not certain if an mdm solution without flexible web based administration is still up to date. Are there already first reference projects out there in the wild?

  9. Simon Barratt Said,

    December 27, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

    Fair enough Paul.

    I’m not so sure the location of the device (in your geo example) is all that relevant these days. Just because you are close to a physical office doesn’t mean you are more/less likely to be accessing work information. Although disabling camera might be a good example if working in a secured environment.


  10. pmooneynet Said,

    December 27, 2012 @ 7:32 pm

    @Simon.. think legal requirements, H&S, regional offices etc. It is going to get more relevant as enterprise companies adopt these devices.

  11. pmooneynet Said,

    December 27, 2012 @ 7:34 pm

    @Peter – there are some definite leaders in the BI/reporting range. Being able to add your own meta data to reports and BI is only available to a few of them at the moment.

    @Darren – start with your requirements, then keep an open mind.

  12. Simon Barratt Said,

    December 28, 2012 @ 3:44 am

    Still not convinced about controlling what data you can access based on proximity/geo location, due to ever more mobile workforce.

    We have many devices in use now worldwide. Still getting used to it, especially when the device is a personal one. Biggest concerns to date are being able to locate a personal device and running inventory reports on installed software.

  13. pmooneynet Said,

    December 28, 2012 @ 10:56 am

    That’s fine Simon. It may not be a feature that you want or need yet.

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