Dell enters mobile device management fray

The company says that the "reconsideration rate for mobile device management is extraordinarily high" and that it can be a player in one crowded market.

Dell on Tuesday outlined plans to become a mobile device management player with an overall goal of nudging out a bevy of smaller vendors with a more comprehensive approach.

The effort, outlined at Dell World, highlights three developments. First, Dell is working to bolster its software business and be seen as something more than a server and PC vendor. In addition, Dell, like other larger players ranging from IBM to Citrix, are looking to take advantage of a scattered market for mobile device management. And finally, BlackBerry's struggles have prodded a bevy of enterprises to look at mobility management alternatives.

Read this

BYOD and the consumerization of IT

Special report: The Bring Your Own Device phenomenon is reshaping the way IT is purchased, managed, delivered, and secured. We look at what it means, how to handle it, and where it's going in the future.

Read More

Tom Kendra, general manager and vice president of systems management at Dell, argued in an interview that enterprises will need to consolidate various mobile vendors and work with a more strategic partner. "There are solutions from a lot of folks," said Kendra. "Laptops are managed one way. There are issued mobile devices and others for BYOD. Enterprises that went early with MDM have Airwatch, Good and MobileIron. The problem companies are having is that there are too many backends to manage."

Indeed, customers on a recent ZDNet BYOD and mobility panel indicated that they were content to wait for MDM 2.0, or a shakeout that would cut the field of vendors from more than 100. 

For instance, Tony Harte, director of infrastructure and business solutions at Lids, a major hat retailer, said:

We’ve got some basic functionality in place to be able to manage those devices, but we’re really kind of waiting on BYOD 2.0 to hit before we make any significant investments. Our risk is not probably quite as high as the life sciences so, it affords me a little bit of time to wait for the next generation of this MDM madness to come around.

The challenge for Dell is that it is largely unknown as a mobile device management player. Gartner's Magic Quadrant---an imperfect, but well known metric---highlights the current field, which doesn't include Dell. Kendra, however, sees an opening. "The reconsideration rate for mobile device management is extraordinarily high," said Kendra.

gartner mdm mq


Dell's mobility management software is a coupling of acquired technology, access management and security to meld management and mobility policies. Kendra also said Dell aimed to future proof its software to work with wearable technologies too.

The company's primary pitch is that it can offer unified mobility support via cloud and software as a service. Dell's mobile suite breaks down into endpoint management for devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and sensors and then provides container management to separate work and personal content.

Meanwhile, the company will sell four annual subscriptions for various parts of its mobility management software as well as collaboration tools.

Overall, Dell had a solid mobility stack, but its pitch is similar to other vendors. Its best card to play, however, is that Dell has the enterprise relationships. It remains to be seen how Dell fares in a crowded mobility management space.

dell EMM1
dell EMM2


Among other items from Dell:

  • The company is launching NetVault Backup 10 and a "scale-up model" for its deduplication systems.
  • Dell's Information Management analytics applications will be rolled out at Temple University, Kennesaw University and Concordia University in a play for higher ed and student management tools.
  • Application performance monitoring is now available as a service.