If we look at some facts about converging devices, already the convergence of usage patterns, functional capabilities and application support is blurring the boundaries between computing on notebooks and on other mobile devices. By 2012, separate strategies for these two categories will be obsolete. The demand for a unified approach to all forms of mobile computing is increasing, fueled by improving capabilities of mobile devices, as well as growth in the use of enterprise communication applications. Alongside, the fragmentation of mobile device hardware and operating systems remains a critical barrier to aligning management and security processes with those applied to PCs. However, technology developments are eroding this barrier, and alignment will be progressively possible, with the emergence of tools that can manage across all client-computing devices—from smartphones to PCs. The unification of mobile and client computing will occur in three phases, first encompassing policies, then processes and, finally, tools. Only policies can be unified today.
The Need for Single Approach
Managing, supporting and securing mobile computing requires some duplication of effort. Multiple processes and tools must be used to achieve similar results on different device categories. Most organizations support mobile computing in two apparently disjointed arenas: the highly standardized PC environment and the fragmented world of (smaller) mobile devices, such as PDAs and smartphones. In some cases, mobile devices are not even handled by the IT organization, but are the responsibility of the purchasing department or other business units.
This is not a viable long-term approach. As mobile deployments keep growing in both directions, the scale of problems demands more attention. As capabilities and usage patterns converge, management strategies should converge as well.
Enterprises building a longer-term client computing strategy need to start planning a unified approach to mobile computing— starting with policies and looking for opportunities to align processes as technology developments permit. Once management and security processes are combined, it will become possible for the functions of management and security tools to converge across the device categories.