by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Few Options Exist for Managing Multiple Mobile Platforms

May 12, 20113 mins
Consumer ElectronicsMobileSmall and Medium Business

Logistics company adopts containerization model, but is still searching for all-in-one solution

Fiberlink, an enterprise mobile management company that supports endpoints at companies such as Bank of America, Bayer and Volkswagen, reports that the days when you could support a single mobile platform are history. According to its numbers, only 28 percent of companies support a single mobile operating system, while 22 percent support three and 33 percent support four or more.

Mike Sedehi, senior IT operations manager at Matson Navigation, a major Pacific Rim logistics firm, says the biggest problem with supporting several platforms is “not having a proper device-management tool to effectively secure, monitor and update the devices in a controlled environment. A user can take their device home and update it. Or worse, the service providers simply push updates to the device, bypassing our controls.”

What They Did: Matson implemented a solution from Good Technology. “Good’s promise was the containerization model, which separates corporate data from the consumer side, much like a firewall between the two worlds,” Sedehi says. “It can also manage end user profiles and wipe corporate data if needed.”

Unfortunately, he says, “other than email, no other application can be deployed and containerized.”

While the easy answer would be to standardize on a single mobile platform, top-level users are demanding support for multiple platforms, such as iOS for iPads and Android for smartphones, to access email and consumer applications like books, music and movies. Some software vendors, such as BoxTone, offer multiple mobile-platform-management solutions, but no single vendor has emerged as the market leader and the need for a do-it-all solution remains. “The speed of adoption has caught the industry off guard,” Sedehi says.

Realizing that there could be real business value in the various platforms, Matson formed a mobility task force that brought together its IT operations and applications groups to identify gaps in mobile-device management and the mobile-enterprise-application platform, Sedehi says.

“The objectives were to develop a multiyear road map and integration strategy in line with our business application, cloud and unified communication strategy, built on enabling the customer—internal or external—to do business with us anywhere, at any time, on any platform,” he says. “The real value will come from agility and transparency in gaining access to needed data.”

The challenge ahead, Sedehi says, is to “safeguard the corporate data, enable application agility and gain competitive advantage on uncharted territory [platforms] in a much shorter time frame, [at a] faster pace and with limited resources.”