Over the years, mobile device management (MDM) has matured and been widely adopted in enterprises. In fact, MDM serves as a baseline management tool for many organizations by supporting workers using smartphones, tablets and laptops for business use. While MDM technology has somewhat commoditized and evolved to the broader enterprise mobility management (EMM) market, businesses are seeing revived interest in device management and IT teams are securing new types of endpoints to connect business networks. Software updating, policy enforcement and endpoint configuration are primary functions of MDM in workspace IoT environments.
Supporting New Device Types
Broad new categories of device types are appearing on enterprise networks and connecting to IT infrastructures. Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) are appearing in the workplace, including:
- Connected conference room equipment, such as video and audio gear
- Collaborative computing platforms such as Microsoft Surface Hub
- General-purpose wearables such as smart watches
- Specialty devices such as augmented and virtual reality
These diverse form factors are increasing being used in office environments and in specific use case scenarios. Consumer IoT devices, such as Apple TVs, Chromecast and specific smart speakers such as Alexa and Google Home, are also popping up in the office, making business workspaces more connected and productive.
In industrial device scenarios, smartphones and tablets are increasingly replacing legacy and proprietary handheld devices for single-purpose applications, such as barcode scanning for inventory tracking, image capture, and data input. Many proprietary endpoint technologies are converging and standardizing on smartphone operating systems such as Android and iOS. These new rugged, single-app devices will still require close monitoring, management and security measures.
The Risks of Connected Workspaces
There are risks and challenges involved in connecting all these new endpoint device types into a connected workspace. Industry standards surrounding IoT device security are in their infancy, and this space is rapidly evolving across a broad swath of industries looking to connect products to IP networks. There are already stories in the media about mundane connected endpoints used as launching points for sophisticated cyberattacks on enterprise IT infrastructure. Businesses will have to weigh the potential benefit of a highly connected workspace with the risk of breeches and intrusions that such an infrastructure might make possible.
MDM’s Role in Connected Workspace Device Management
The role of MDM in a connected workspace environment is similar to the traditional role of MDM in fleets of smartphones and tablets. Software updating, policy enforcement and endpoint configuration are primary functions of MDM in workspace IoT environments. An MDM platform deployed for a connected IoT workspace can also be a critical tool in mitigating threats to connected devices on the network, If a hacked or compromised device is detected by a security platform, MDM platforms will play a critical role in the enforcement chain, from disconnecting devices from the network quarantine to providing OS-level wiping in other scenarios.
What to Look for in a Modern MDM Platform
An MDM deployed in the modern connected office should have a strong set of attributes and capabilities for securing and managing new types of connected devices. Not all traditional MDM platforms will apply to this new type of use case.
Look for MDM platforms that have strong device management capabilities across a broad set of endpoint operating systems. This means going beyond traditional MDM-managed OSs, such as iOS and Android. In these scenarios, MDMs must support platforms such as Windows, Linux, real-time operating systems, and emerging/embedded IoT operating systems such as Android Things. MDM tools for advanced workspace management scenarios should also have a strong ecosystem of software partners around security and management technologies. Key integrations here include security and vulnerability management systems, security information and event management (SIEM) platforms, and advanced mobile threat defense (MTD) integration.
As new deployments of screens, IoT devices and other connected endpoints proliferate across enterprises, IDC sees MDM technology as a strategic platform for businesses to secure, manage and control these new mobile-oriented use cases.