IBM just got into the mobile management game. Big Blue rolled out software based on its 2010 BigFix acquisition that helps organizations manage and secure smartphones and tablets in the workplace while also managing laptops, desktops and servers.
Dubbed IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices, the new offering lets companies use a single solution to manages Apple iOS, Google Android, Nokia Symbian, and Microsoft Windows Mobile and Windows Phone devices. The software also adds a layer of security to combat the escalating threats from the bring your own device, or BYOD, trend.
"If you plant yourself in the data center and think about all the data and applications around you, somehow it has to all get pushed out so that people can use it on PCs, laptops, servers or elsewhere," said Bob Sutor, vice president of IBM Mobile Platform. "Many of the things you have to do in terms of provisioning applications, updating operating systems, and knowing what version is running, is very consistent with what's going on with mobile."
A Mobile Uprising
It's consistent -- and it's happening on a grand scale. IDC expects the mobile workforce to reach more than 1.19 billion by 2013, putting new pressures on enterprises to connect personal smartphones and tablets to corporate networks and provide employee access to business data on them.
At the end of 2011, almost half of mobile devices used in the workplace were employee owned, according to IDC. This BYOD trend raises additional concerns about managing security risks. Mobile exploits doubled in 2011 from 2010, according to the IBM X-Force Mid-Year Trend and Risk Report.
"Let's say that you discover that there is an incredible security flaw in some app. How can I push out an update to 100,000 employees?" Sutor asked. "What happens if you lose your phone? Remotely you need to either zap access to this confidential information or in some case zap the entire phone, which may be the solution if in fact if it's a company owned phone."
IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices allows IT admins to remotely set policies, identify potential data compromises and wipe data off the devices if they are lost or stolen. The software also helps configure and enforce passcode policies, encryption and virtual private network settings.
Consistency Across the Enterprise
The new release of IBM Endpoint Manager also extends IBM capabilities in managing the security and compliance of servers, computers and point-of-sales devices, such as ATMs and self-service kiosks to smartphones and tablets using mobile operating systems while addressing the unique aspects of those devices.
Beyond safeguarding data and providing flexible management for IT admins, the software has compliance benefits. The technology automatically identifies non-compliant devices and takes action by denying e-mail access or issuing user notifications until corrective actions are implemented.
"We provide a lot of consistency around how companies will manage these so-called end points. It could be a laptop or a mobile phone," Sutor said. "That gives you a lot of potential cost savings. It's this notion of consistency and breadth of vision that I think we are providing that no one else is."