We’ve profiled a range of companies and products during our Mobile Management Month event. One of the things that seems to stand out to some readers is the number of companies that offer mobile management as part of a larger set of enterprise and IT solutions. Integrated solutions are nothing new to IT. The cultural shift of mobile devices and BYOD programs, however, have many organizations wondering whether to go with an integrated or branch out into new territory and use a range of deployment, management, and monitoring tools for desktop systems as well as mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad.
There are good reasons to consider either approach. Going with an integrated solution generally means that IT can rely on a single system and management console to handle several different facets of an overall IT strategy. Symantec, for example, offers a single integrated solution for every facet of IT operation from Mac and PC rollout and software deployment to mobile device management to inventory, and even to help desk operations. Provided each component of the vendor’s product line is up to a company’s needs, this approach is one-stop shopping and results in just one company to call when there’s a system problem.
There are also often a financial benefit to sticking with a single vendor. Offering discounts when bundling solutions is a common practice. That alone can be tempting, particularly for solutions that are licensed on a per-seat or per-device model.
On the other hand, going with a few different providers allows IT leaders to build very tailored solutions. It can it ensure that the company get’s the best range of device management, inventory, and reporting options from one vendor (perhaps a vendor like Tangoe that specializes in expense management) while managing desktop deployments with a separate solution like FileWave that offers a much broader range of self-service options for Mac and PC users. Adding a separate support management suite like Web Help Desk could round out a set of optimal solutions that may have a greater initial cost but deliver savings over the long-term because they best facilitate every need. Even if a multi-company solution doesn’t save money, the value generated by its overall effectiveness may be worth the investment.
With so many IT vendors offering cloud-based solutions, mixing and matching has a new appeal. There’s no real vendor lock-in due to previous investment in server hardware (and operating system) or network appliances. As we highlighted last week, cloud management solutions allow a company to continually test a variety of options until IT leaders find the one or more solutions that are the best fit.
For organizations looking at mobile management options and that have an existing investment in a single IT vendor’s solutions with which they are happy or satisifed, it makes the most sense to start with that company’s solution. At the same time, however, it doesn’t mean that other options shouldn’t be considered.
Of course, if IT leaders and staff are unhappy with a current solution, then choosing a mobile management product can open the doors to a reconsidering existing vendors – whether that means a new single-source vendor or a series of different products from different companies. New options can be phased in alongside a mobile management solution. In addition to simply rethinking vendors, this also allows IT departments to rethink technology and businesses processes as well. Often evaluating new solutions can help in this process because each vendor that you work with will have new and different insights about an organization, its needs, and the IT and business strategies that it can pursue.