The increasing use of employees' personal mobile devices on corporate networks has prompted Virtela Technology Services to introduce a cloud-delivered mobile device management (MDM) service. The service delivers a network connection to smartphones, tablet computers and other devices, monitors usage of voice and data plans, and archives text messages.
Virtela is offering the cloud service for IT departments that are being asked to accommodate mobile devices but don't have the in-house resources to manage and support them. The research firm IDC estimates that the number of smartphones in use will grow by 49.2 percent in 2011 to 450 million units (from 303.4 million) just one year ago.
And Deloitte forecasts tablet computer sales to reach 50 million units this year, from practically zero before the first Apple iPad was introduced in April 2010. In many cases, people are using these smartphones and tablets for both personal and work reasons, forcing IT departments to accommodate them, says Mark Weiner, VP of marketing for Virtela.
Delivering mobile device management as a cloud service saves companies the cost of hardware, software and other technology to manage the devices on-premise. It also frees IT staff from having to learn a new IT service when they're busy enough managing the IT they have now, says Weiner.
The Virtela service costs $5 per device per month. In an enterprise with 1,000 devices to be managed, the cost would be $75,000 in each of the first two years. Creating a "do-it-yourself" MDM system on premise would cost close to $194,000 the first year and $169,000 the second, according to a company estimate.