IBM's New Hosted Mobile Device Security - A Winning Hand?

By Tony Rizzo, Editor in Chief — November 14, 2011

Late last week IBM announced its new IBM Hosted Mobile Device Security Management service, a new platform targeted to help businesses secure the exploding number of mobile devices in the enterprise that now have potentially unlimited access to corporate data. The new service extends the company's existing mobility portfolio to include a security application for smartphones and tablets, along with managed services including policy management and user compliance monitoring.
 
The service helps organizations protect against data loss and other risks caused by device theft, unauthorized access, malware, spyware, and inappropriate applications. It is designed to help mitigate security risks associated with the increasing number of employee-owned (BYOD) and corporate-liable mobile devices accessing sensitive business data. Delivered as a hosted, managed service, enterprises can put these controls into action without the need to deploy and manage systems or to make a major investment of in-house personnel and technology.
 
IBM employs thousands of security experts globally, including security operations analysts, consultants, tech specialists, and strategic outsourcing delivery professionals. IBM monitors 13 billion security events per day in more than 130 countries and holds 3,000 security patents. Without a doubt, the company knows a little something about large scale enterprise security issues.
 
In this particular case – managing mobile devices within the enterprise - the problems and security concerns aren’t obscure and many small companies offer similar and directly competitive services – though none can come close to IBM in terms of sheer scale with regard to its access to huge numbers of customers that operate complex IT environments. Mitigating security risks, maintaining tight security policies, and controlling costs are top of mind concerns for the CIOs and security and risk professionals that operate within IBM’s customer base.
 
With the new service, IBM provides the necessary security controls and ongoing monitoring for any mobile device as a managed service, allowing IT departments to support a broad range of personal devices. Capabilities of the new mobile device security management service include:
  • Configuring employee devices to comply with security policies and actively monitoring to help ensure compliance over time
  • Securing data in the event that a device is lost or stolen
  • Helping to find a lost or stolen device - wherever it is
  • Protecting against spyware and viruses
  • Detecting and removing malicious and unapproved applications
  • Monitoring and tracking user activity
  • Enabling more secure connectivity
IBM's managed security services support leading third-party technologies in addition to its own. The company is working with Juniper Networks on this mobile security service for the underlying protection and device management technology for leading platforms such as Apple iOS, Google Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and Microsoft Windows Mobile through the Juniper Networks Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite.
 
It will be interesting to see how well IBM does in delivering its new security capabilities. Competitors here will almost always beat IBM on speed to implementation, even though IBM’s hosted approach should technically make it easy and fast for IBM to deliver. In the mobile world of the last decade speed of implementation – and the related issues of ease of deployment and lack of complexity – have always proven to be differentiators for the small mobile vendors. Perhaps surprisingly, the small vendors are not necessarily the low-cost bidders on mobile projects – speed to implementation has been the key to success.
 
There is no doubt that IBM will have no problem initially delivering the new mobile security and mobile device management services into true blue accounts. Whether it can hold on to them will be a function of…speed to implementation and lack of complexity. We look forward to seeing how IBM does.

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