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Mobility as a service: Offloading enterprises' BYOD management pains

Dimension Data announced its mobility as a service offering for enterprises interested in simplifying mobile device, application and expense management.

Dimension Data announced the availability of its mobility as a service offering for enterprises looking to simplify mobile device, application and expense management and security.

Some IT organizations are struggling to keep up with the onslaught of new devices and applications that the bring your own device (BYOD) trend has unleashed on the corporate network. Cloud-based mobility services can help businesses stay compliant and enforce security policies for devices and data, while offloading the cost and complexity associated with scaling their mobile environments quickly.

"I think enterprises will appreciate having mobility simplified for them, and having it consolidated on one service," said Mike Sapien, principal analyst with London-based research firm Ovum. "I think it will also help enterprise mobility management move down to SMB [small to midsized business] customers who today are often living in an unmanaged mobility environment."

Mobility as a service: Simplifying device, application and user security polices

Dimension Data already had a mobile expense management service, but the company noticed that many enterprises are still struggling to control other aspects of mobility -- such as security policy management and regulatory compliance -- as BYOD has made their environments more complex, said Darryl Wilson, integration director for Dimension Data Americas.

Dimension Data's Enterprise Mobility as a Service (EMaaS) offering gives business customers access to over 600 mobile device management (MDM) policy options to secure access to corporate data from any mobile device, authentication control, and controls for regulatory compliance. Both enterprise IT professionals and enterprise employees can access the cloud-based service via a self-service portal, and employees can onboard and install their enterprise's MDM service onto their own devices anywhere using Dimension Data's global data center infrastructure.

"This service takes [the] MDM capabilities we have, in addition to [telecom] expense management, and we can now offer this to [our customers] on a per-device, per-user consumption model," Wilson said.

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"This is the first time mobile device, application and expense management are being offered all together as a service," Ovum's Sapien said.

Businesses can use EMaaS alongside Dimension Data's Systems Integration and Professional Services for mobility management consulting and to help businesses determine what their mobility needs are, but the customer is responsible for managing its own cloud-based instance of the mobility service in the first release, Wilson said. Enterprise IT can adjust notification settings within an administrator dashboard to determine when the service will alert them to new or changing mobility usage, activity or compliance issues through reporting and analytics capabilities.

EMaaS combines the flexibility of self-service with rapid provisioning of custom enterprise security policies, Wilson said. "Enterprise can still customize the service as they would if they bought an MDM [appliance], but we found that businesses do appreciate a consumption-based delivery model," he said. Dimension Data will make the cloud-based mobility service generally available in the fall, and it will be regularly updated with new MDM features and functionality, he said.

Mobility as a service: An evolving delivery model

Mobile device security policies used to be much simpler. IT organizations could set two polices: one for senior executives and another for and sales and knowledge workers, Ovum's Sapien said. But the influx of the many varieties of applications, operating systems and devices has made mobile environments much more complex and time-consuming. EMaaS gives businesses the freedom to pick and choose what security policies they want in place, depending on the device or user, he said.

Dimension Data is also addressing other aspects of mobility management, beyond simply device management, said Kathryn Weldon, research director for Washington, D.C.-based Current Analysis. "Enterprises needed help with managing devices, but they can't forget about managing and securing applications," she said. "Mobility management has morphed into a much larger concept in recent years."

The main benefit of Dimension Data's EMaaS for enterprises is that there are no capital investments upfront, in contrast to an on-premises MDM system that they have to buy, deploy and support.

"This utility, pay-as-you-go model for mobility management is an emerging trend we are seeing more of, and there will definitely be others like it moving in this direction," Ovum's Sapien said. "It should be an easier way for enterprise mobility management to be taken care of, and it will provide some standardization of mobility features in the market."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, news writer and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.

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MDM is just a way of systematically securing large numbers of personal devices on a network. As such, I think IT departments are going to have to approach the problem with several tools including things like Dimension Data's Enterprise Mobility as a Service. I also feel that for some companies/industries the new 'build your own BYOD app' concept has some real advantages with compatibility, easy of use and flexibility. We are looking at developing our own app for our employees and doctors, using the Tigertext Tigerconnect API for HIPAA compliant texting and Dropbox integration, and I am sure that more and more companies will be looking at using this API as well and other that are coming on the market to address the BYOD and COPE data security requirements that enterprise business require.