We cover a lot of Mobile Device Management (MDM) stuff on ConsumerizeIT.com, but don't delve into it too much here because it tends to revolve around consumer devices and IT's struggle to embrace and manage them. Where MDM comes into desktop virtualization and desktop management, though, is when we can incorporate elements of it into what we do every day. With the trends of tablets and mobile computing, along with the eventuality of not running Windows locally on desktops, MDM will evolve in simply "DM," or Device Management.
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Don't get too excited–I'm not saying Windows is going away any time soon, but what I am saying is that as Windows becomes marginalized by thin clients, desktops in the datacenter, tablets, phones, Motorola Atrixes (Atrices?), and so on, we're also going to see fragmentation in how we manage the devices. Companies that focus on managing Windows desktops will be missing out on all these new devices, and we're starting to see them go after MDM technology to broaden their offering. We're starting to see some of this already, with MDM-like features being built in to System Center. Microsoft Management Summit will be interesting this year because of that and because of Windows 8 (Jack will be there, so watch him on twitter @JackMadden). It's only a matter of time before we see more generalized device management features across the board.
Some of that management will amount to app management, too. When Windows 8 comes out, it will have its own app store to go along with Android, iOS, and any corporate app store you might already have. There's three operating systems on umpteen devices that you'll have to manage in one way or another.
We're now starting to see some consolidation going on in the MDM and PC Management areas, most recently with Symantec acquiring both Nukona and Odyssey. Nukona is an application management solution, while Odyssey is an MDM solution. Additionally, Numara Software, who owned the PC management suite TrackIT, purchased Fromdistance, another MDM package, last October. (Both companies were recently swallowed up in an acquisition by BMC Software earlier this year.)
It makes sense that these companies start looking elsewhere for ways to manage new devices. Their bread and butter up until now has been managing Windows, and they're now identifying that, in the future, Windows will be on a smaller percentage of devices. That means that their lifespan is limited unless they can embrace the new way of doing things.
It makes sense for the smaller MDM companies to seek out an acquisition, too. There is a growing sentiment that the best way to deal with devices is to treat them all as insecure, which means you don't need MDM solutions, you need MAM (Mobile Application Management) solutions. If that philosophy takes hold, both MDM and traditional PC management companies have limited lifespans, and they need to prop each other up.
Whatever the emerging ideas are, though, there will be a need to manage both PC's and devices well into the future, and these kinds of pairings make perfect sense. The traditional companies are already entrenched in organizations, and so it’s easier for them to get the MDM technology in front of customers than it is for the new MDM companies to attract clients.
Who’s next on that list? LANDesk? What about vendors? MDM technology could fit well with IBM BigFix (although they already have something) or Dell KACE (Dell just bought Wyse, though, and Wyse has an MDM package). Even Microsoft could be in the game to acquire new technology rather than build it on their own. With so many MDM, MAM, and PC management companies out there, there's sure to be a lot happening in the near future.
Eventually what we’ll end up with are Device Management solutions and Application Management solutions(dropping the word “mobile”) that try to cover all the devices and apps a company might want to manage, rather than separate tools for different devices. It’s going to be a different world, and these companies have to do something to stay afloat. This could be it. The bottom line, though, is that the mobile devices are just going to be folded in with all the other endpoints, and we'll manage them just like we do everything else (if we manage anything at all!).