With the rise of tablets and smartphones in the enterprise, IT shops must consider using tools to monitor and manage mobile devices. But often these solutions are costly. Managed services company Virtela hopes to address this problem with a cloud-based mobile device management service that channel partners can resell on a monthly subscription plan.
Ryan Young, executive vice president and co-founder of Torrey Point Group, a Virtela channel partner, explains MDM services by saying, “Mobile device management services are the ability to monitor, secure and make real time changes to mobile devices, whether it’s in the central office or out in the field. It creates a unified management structure that enables a third party or a corporation themselves to manage, monitor and secure mobile devices that could contain sensitive corporate information.”
Virtela's MDM service is completely hosted so that enterprise IT shops don't have to dedicate staff or time to monitoring and managing these devices, yet they promise levels of visibility and security that would come with an on-premises tool.
“They are able to manage any device, from any carriers,” Young said. “Depending on the type of device, they can go all the way down to file management. If your phone or tablet is stolen, they can go in and start to remotely destroy those files. They can also do a remote wiping of your phone. They really understand security policies and potential threats and ways to manage and monitor those threats. [And they enable] remediation policies to ensure that the threats are taken care of and everyone is notified properly.”
Virtela's cloud-based mobile device management service also offers a single pane of glass view on every device connecting to the network.
“Once they have the data in the system, it shows in one shot every device in the infrastructure, who owns it, whether it’s corporate or private, who the carrier is, what numbers are associated, what level of OS is running on the devices, and what apps are installed onto the devices. It allows you to interpret that data and then be able to manage it,” he said.
Dennis Hodges, CIO at Inteva, a Virtela customer, said that implementing cloud-based managed mobile device management services enables the company to remain focused on other core issues.
“We try to use as many services as we can so that our IT staff can focus on business analysis, which is where we think there is greater value to the company. I don’t think that there is any value in managing a mobile device management system. I don’t have a team that focuses on these types of services at all. So, the service of $5 a month, to pay someone else to do it, it’s hard to beat. There’s a lot of functionality we have by going to this, like wiping out phones if they are stolen,” Hodges said.
Mobile device management services aid in security and compliance efforts
Authentication and security are a central element of MDM services. The Virtela cloud identifies both the carrier and the user, granting access to files and specific areas of the infrastructure based on policy.
“Once I’ve been authenticated as a user, then the question is, what if something on my phone is irregular, what if I’ve been compromised and not aware of it, etc. That’s the biggest threat to all IT organizations. Not only attacks from the outside, but also potential attacks internally. Virtela services would be able to see and understand this and remediate or block the attack, then notify everyone appropriately. If necessary, [it would] also cleanse my device and/or disable it from accessing any information that might be seen as a breach of security,” Young said.
Regarding local compliance and privacy laws, Virtela’s mobile device management service offers the ability to perform configuration management and back up data differently in various geographic regions depending on local compliance and privacy laws. Countries like Germany and France, for example, require that all personal information be stored within the country only. Virtela’s cloud-based MDM services enable this since they run from a global footprint of 50 Local Cloud Centers (LCCs).
The Virtela MDM services also include SMS text archiving and search to meet additional compliance requirements. This is a growing importance as the volume of text messages is increasing on both personal and business devices.
Can MDM services save time and cost?
For enterprises, cloud-based MDM services eliminate the cost and time of finding and implementing an on-premise MDM solution.
“MDM services saves on the CAPEX because of the lack of investment that needs to happen and the amount of hours spent by engineers to learn about a new product. A lot of these network infrastructures are not ready for mobile device management. They need to be upgraded and evaluated from an architectures perspective,” said Young. “From an operations standpoint, you have to staff someone 24/7 to create a help desk and a service team to be able to work with the mobile device management.”
Virtela's services also help enterprises save money by enabling them to track phone usage and bills on any device regardless of carrier.
“We have a lot of international roamers that don’t understand the cost structure of roaming internationally,” Hodges said. “They don’t pay the bill themselves, so they don’t see that they have a $2,000 phone bill from last month. With the new service, we’ll be able to click on roaming by costs and see information that will automatically be there, rather than going through and searching manually.”
How do channel partners tell the MDM services story to customers?
For channel partners, managed MDM services are a natural add-on for existing customers, and don't require a hefty technology investment.
“That’s the beauty of cloud services. Someone else owns and manages the data center and the OPEX and CAPEX development. It really comes back down to connectivity to those devices or services,” Young said.
In order to sell MDM services to customers, it’s imperative to explain the current state of the market and how it will grow in the future.
“The mobile space is in incredible growth right now. The positioning of the sale is whether it’s worth the investment of the CAPEX and OPEX to build out your own solution in your own robust architecture … or, whether you want to focus on your core business and trust the service providers and the MSPs to invest in the technology and best solutions,” Young added.
“The question for customers is whether the market has matured enough to allow for MDM in their business, or whether to stay away from it,” he said. “Fact is, it’s on everyone’s mind. It’s going to continue to grow, not going away. As devices get faster and more compact, you’re going to have more and more investment that needs to happen.”