Mobile device management is certainly becoming a hot topic. An increasing number of enterprises are finding themselves faced with the challenge of reconciling the popularity and potential problems associated with these devices, as well as taming the chaos that is possible when employees and customers alike adopt an increasingly mobile culture. Though Zenprise is a multi-OS mobile support framework with a long history covering BlackBerry and Apple devices, the latest release is all about improved Android capabilities.
I recently spoke about Zenprise with the company's VP of marketing, Ahmed Datoo. I got an education on the mobile device management space, what differentiates Zenprise from competitors like MobileIron, and how Zenprise sees the impact of mobile devices (especially Android-based tablets) on the future of business networks. Zenprise's predicts a day when the laptop computer becomes irrelevant and tablets of one sort or another become king. Datoo quotes market studies where roughly one-third of all tablets are based on Android, and sees that proportion increasing as Android tablets gain ever-more-business-oriented apps. Along with an established security-centric philosophy to device management (for example, the camera on a user's device can be automatically disabled when he or she enters the workplace and re-enabled on leaving), Zenprise now introduces an Enterprise app store and remote control capabilities for Zenprise customers.
As with MobileIron's recent announcement of a new Enterprise iOS app store, Zenprise's new Android app delivery framework seeks to put power and control in the hands of network administrators. Pushing required organizational apps, preventing use of unauthorized apps, and keeping things uniform across hundreds or thousands of mobile devices is a staple of these frameworks. With Zenprise's new Android app store, administrators can ensure that corporate apps are not uploaded on the competition's devices, and can push more than just apps. Datoo demonstrated the one-click pushing of a sales presentation from the Zenprise Device Manager console to all devices that should have it. After watching this sort of capability, you get a sense for how an employee workforce can truly be kept in sync with automated delivery of required information on devices scattered far and wide.
The other cool thing that Zenprise has released is a remote control capability for Android devices. Got a user complaining of slowness on his or her Android tablet? Now, through the central Device Manager portal, an administrator can see the remote device exactly as the user sees it, while being able to drill into system functions. All users are not created equal, and it may not be so obvious that 20 applications are all open at once. A quick help request allows an administrator to diagnose the condition and shut unneeded applications down. It's all about configuration, control and support as Zenprise customers adopt ever-more Android-based tablets.
From a first-hand perspective, I do see the much-hyped influx of mobile devices into my own environment. Though I get the sense that many of the staff members I support have tablets that are as much fashion accessories as they are productivity tools, I also sense a growing concern among my management colleagues that, sooner or later, we will have to face the music and address the potential security threats and management concerns that uber-mobile devices bring, even if they have yet to really displace laptops as workstations. After taking a tour through Zenprise's capabilities, I am comforted to know that there are impressive mobile device management tools to be leveraged when we decide to take the plunge.