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One of the most talked about trends in messaging today is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), which began about the time iPhone mania really took hold. After 2007, when third-party developers were encouraged to develop apps for the iPhone, users started to abandon corporate issued BlackBerrys in favor of their own phones and apps. Shortly thereafter, Android, iPad and a host of other devices with roots in consumer product design were streaming through corporate doors. The BYOD trend has put IT in a tough spot, and has captured the attention of vendors responding to the new need for mobile device management (MDM). Initially, we had on premises MDM offerings from companies like Good Technology, Sybase and MobileIron. Now, with the rise of “the cloud,” we see MDM cloud services, which have lower price points and can leverage the managed services approach.

One such recent offering, announced last week, is from Azaleos Corporation,  known for managed Exchange and managed SharePoint. The Azaleos Managed Mobile Device Management Service enables enterprises to centrally secure and control all leading mobile devices, including employee owned smartphones and tablets. The Azaleos Managed MDM service is based on technology from market leading MDM provider AirWatch and provides proactive 24x7 monitoring and management of company-issued and employee-owned mobile devices.

The need for MDM appears to be growing. A recent study conducted by Osterman Researchrevealed that full-time employee staff requirements to manage smartphones increased from a median of 2.9 per 1,000 mobile devices in 2011 to 3.6 today and is expected to reach 4.0 in 2013. The corresponding annual IT labor cost per user was $229 in 2011, $294 in 2012, and is projected to rise to $339 in 2013.

“Organizations that do not address MDM properly face a growing set of risks, including an inability to adequately secure and retain data on mobile devices, greater downtime, higher IT costs, regulatory compliance violations and reduced employee productivity,” believes Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research.

A key area of BYOD concern to Osterman is content retention and management. In a recent research paper entitled Putting IT Back in Control of BYOD he wrote: “Smartphones and tablets contain a significant proportion of corporate data. Osterman Research has found that more than five percent of corporate data is stored just on users’ smartphones—we expect this figure to soar during the next 24 months as iPads and other tablets are employed in much larger numbers. Employee-owned and controlled devices make access to this data by corporate IT or compliance departments much more difficult, such as during an eDiscovery exercise. This is not only because of the difficulty that might be encountered in physically accessing these devices, but also because of the potential privacy and other legal issues that are raised by companies accessing their employees’ personal property.”

At this point, the BYOD trend is so entrenched that trying to control what device employees may use is likely to fail, Osterman predicts. He believes that employees, if faced with such restrictions, will use their device of choice secretly. Another reason he does not advise trying to restrict users from making their own choices is productivity. “The vast majority of employees do not use their own devices or applications simply for the fun of it,” he says. “They are doing so to be more productive, and to bypass IT restrictions (e.g., email file-size limits) that prevent them from being effective in their work.”

The simplicity of the cloud services converging with the increased number of mobile device platforms coming into corporate environs makes MDM increasing of interest to IT. In a MDM survey, Osterman found among organizations that have not yet deployed an MDM solution, 32 percent will deploy one in 2013 and an additional 24 percent plan to deploy one in 2014.

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