Mobile Device Management: On cloud or on premise, your pivotal decision

 In Mobility, Solutions

It wasn’t long ago when mobile device management was a pretty simple matter. You outfitted your teams with BlackBerrys, you went with a BES solution, and the world was a wonderful place. Then along came Steve Jobs with the iPhone and changed the game for everybody.

Once the iPhone was released, Android and Windows Phone soon followed, and users started streaming into their organizations with all manner of smartphones (much to the chagrin of IT admins everywhere). And let’s not mention tablets. As any IT leader will tell you, all but the BlackBerry were unmanageable in the early days of the emergence of the mobile enterprise.

That’s the bad news. The good news: Over the past few years the landscape has changed, and dramatically so. The mobile device management (MDM) space has become very competitive, with more than 100 different mobile device management vendors in the game to date. While this certainly provides a great deal of choice for the buyer, it dramatically increases the complexity for IT leaders who have to sift through myriad offerings to find the solution that fits their organization.

That’s where SHI comes in. We don’t have an MDM solution to sell; we have all of them. Our job is to simplify the complexity around MDM, and help you understand the most important issues you need to consider when looking for an MDM solution. Let’s start with the single-most important question: Do I stay on premise or do I get my MDM in the cloud?

All other questions that must be considered, many of which I include in a form at the end of this post, can’t be answered until you first determine where it is that your MDM solution will reside.

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of cloud vs. on premise so that you can make an informed decision.

With on premise you have complete control. An on-premise solution is a service that sits server-side in your datacenter giving you greater control of your data, greater security, and better integration because it lives and breathes on your servers.

But the cloud gives you access anywhere. On the other hand, a cloud-based solution is totally hosted by your vendor and doesn’t require any server-side implementation.

On premise costs more. As for the cost side of the equation, on-premise solutions are unquestionably more costly than their cloud counterparts. The reason: You are responsible for the implementation, care, and feeding as well as the hardware acquisition, setup, and maintenance.

But the cloud makes deployment fast and management easy. Compare the time required to deploy a new server in your own datacenter to the time it takes to set up a profile and enter your credit card info with a cloud based service. It’s an exponential reduction in the amount of time required to get things going. And time is money. What used to take two to four weeks with on premise—whether having an outside technician come in and install and configure something or having your own team do it—you could now turn around within a day in the cloud.

Fast, shmast. On premise is secure. While the cloud offers speed and agility, on premise gives you more security and control. This is because with on premise solutions you have complete control over the hardware and software. There is also no transmission or storage of data offsite.

But sometimes, the decision is made for you. Compliance is mainly an issue with financial institutions, healthcare, and government organizations whose regulations will not allow them to put their mobile devices in the cloud because of the perception (often incorrect, but it is what it is) that the cloud is not secure. And if your organization has international users and you’re storing information in the cloud, the U.S. has provisions in place through the Patriot Act that will affect how and where you can store that data.

Obviously there are many more questions to consider before choosing your MDM solution, but first and foremost, choose your location. Deciding between cloud and on premise is a pivotal decision that will impact how your business operates, how your employees access their data, and how your organization can innovate going forward and what things will cost you.

Have more questions about your MDM solution? You’re not alone! Check out our list of frequently asked questions below to see where you stack up. And if you’re still in need of expert advice, fill out the form and send it to me and I’d be happy to discuss which MDM is the right fit for your organization.

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