Mobile device

Mobile Device Management: A Decade Journey

Over the past decade, a seismic shift has taken place in the field of personal computing. Mobile devices have overturned an area that was once dominated by older desktop computers. These devices range from portable smartphones and tablets to laptops. In 2021, the number of active mobile devices stood at nearly 15 billion and is expected to reach 18.22 billion by 2025.

The jolts of this change have driven the need for a solution to effectively manage and secure these devices. Yet existing solutions only covered traditional desktop management software capable of managing on-premises desktops, not mobile ones. This gave rise to mobile device management (MDM), an administration approach that has seen impressive development in a short time.

The dawn of mobile device management

2001 was the year Pizza Hut delivered pizza to space. The Destiny’s Children were always together. The Pope publicly endorsed Pokémon, and the first true MDM solution was born. SOTI was the first MDM to gain traction and allowed companies to remotely control and provide real-time support to mobile devices. This led to a demand for more remote management solutions, and in 2003 AirWatch was founded, providing multi-platform support.

At the time, Apple and Android had a relatively inferior device management feature set, unlike Windows, which has used SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) since 1994. The catalyst that would evolve the niche of device management to what we know. didn’t happen until 2010. It all started when Apple released iOS 4, which had a lot of MDM features never seen before. That same year, Google released Android 2.2, codenamed Froyo. Froyo has integrated some device management functionality using the Android Device Administrator API set, but its functionality pales in comparison to Apple, Microsoft or even Blackberry.

These MDMs offered basic device management functionality such as device provisioning, enrollment in manufacturer device programs, encryption, and password enforcement. Additionally, they provided for device monitoring, remote locking, and remote wiping if the device was stolen or misplaced.

The rise of EMM and containment

As mobile devices became more intertwined with our personal lives, MDM became part of several other beautiful acronyms. Mobile Content Management (MCM) emerged to allow end users to share enterprise data. Corporate networks needed to be secured by identifying and giving access to employees, and that is why Mobile Identity and Access Management (MIAM) was introduced. The inflation of mobile apps created a need to deploy, update, and secure apps, and so mobile application management (MAM) was born. Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) was ultimately born from the convergence of these solutions and MDM.

In 2012, Apple released iOS 6 with many more APIs for enterprise mobility. EMM vendors have been able to take advantage of these additional capabilities to meet a growing trend towards containerization. It enabled a single device for work and personal life by creating containers that separated the two. Android soon followed suit and Google launched the Android Enterprise program with Android 5.0 (lollypop) in 2014. Additionally, Android Enterprise was made mandatory in all GMS-certified devices with Android 6.0 (Marshmallow). Ultimately, even if your company provides corporate devices or promotes a bring your own device (BYOD) policy, EMM solutions can use OS-provided APIs to manage and secure them. effectively.

Bring it all together

The number of EMM vendors has seen a drastic increase from 2011 to 2012. EMM has grown from a complementary technology to a technology built by large companies. Microsoft launched Intune MDM and Blackberry announced that Apple devices could be controlled using its Blackberry Enterprise Server. In 2013, new players were also competing in the niche: ManageEngine, Codeproof, Sophos and many others entered the field during this period. Even our own Hexnode came out in 2013.

When Windows and macOS integrated mobile device management functionality into their desktop operating systems, it was the next step in the evolution of device management. As a result, EMM vendors began supporting desktops and laptops under the guise of a unified solution. Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) grew out of this pivot. In 2018, Gartner announced that they were officially moving to the UEM label. In this direction, Intune became Microsoft Endpoint Manager and Blackberry Enterprise Server became Blackberry Unified Endpoint Manager, along with many other EMM providers.

Today’s UEM solutions are capable of managing desktops, laptops, mobile devices, IoT devices, browsers, applications, and virtual desktops from a single platform.

And after

The device management market is expected to reach $98.7 billion by 2030, and the acquisitions made by tech giants over the past decade are a clear testament to this. In 2013, IBM acquired Maas360 from Fiberlink to launch its own IBM Maas360. In 2014 VMware acquired AirWatch and in 2015 Blackberry acquired Good Technology, two of the oldest names in mobile device management. Even more recently, Ivanti acquired MobileIron in 2020. Apple also recently took a step into enterprise technology by acquiring Fleetsmith and launching its own Apple Business Essentials.

The pace of change and innovation is not slowing down. The eruption of new IoT-enabled devices and new cloud-based operating systems are new spaces for the growth of UEM solutions. Additionally, enterprise security experts believe that Zero Trust architecture is the final frontier of enterprise security and that UEM is an essential part of it. On the network security front, SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) offers the combination of edge capabilities with cloud security. If the last few decades have been about bringing mobile devices into the workplace, I think the next one will show us just how much these technologies can thrive.