Mobile Device Management: Build or Partner on Software?

Mobile Device Management: Build or Partner on Software?

In the mobile device management (MDM) market an interesting debate has emerged: Should MSP software companies build their own MDM solutions or partner up with larger, established MDM companies? On one side of the discussion is Continuum Managed Services CEO Michael George, who decided to partner up with Fiberlink Maas360. On the other side of the discussion are companies like Kaseya, LabTech Software, Level Platforms and N-able Technologies -- each of which are writing their own MDM software modules. Which path forward is wiser?

At the recent IT Nation conference in Orlando, Fla., George explained Continuum's MDM strategy to MSPmentor. Continuum considered writing its own MDM software from scratch. But George saw potential legal and technical hurdles, especially as MSPs and their customers start to sort out who is liable for lost data, lost devices and so forth.

Instead of navigating through all of those potential hurdles, Continuum explored potential MDM relationships with a range of companies. The hunt zeroed in on MDM partners that really understood the MSP channel -- rather than pure direct sales to corporate IT. Fiberlink, a provider of cloud-based solutions for MDM and mobile application management (MAM), ultimately fit Continuum's need and a partnership emerged earlier this month.

MDM Built From Within

On the other side of the discussion, several MSP-centric software companies have been building their own MDM software modules. I believe Kaseya was first to market in 2011. Level Platforms followed with broad platform support (Apple iOS, Android, Windows, RIM BlackBerry) earlier this year. LabTech Software has been building out a major MDM push of its own. And N-able Technologies is beta testing MDM right now -- even earning some big partner wins along the way.

The home-grown approach ensures MSP software companies control their own destinies. Over the next year or so, I suspect many standalone MDM software companies will disappear -- either through acquisition or industry consolidation. MSPs aren't looking for yet another management dashboard. Instead, they want modules or platforms that plug into existing RMM (remote monitoring and management) software.

For Continuum's MSPs, the Fiberlink Maas360 relationship delivers a best-of-breed integrated solution. And for MSPs running Kaseya, LabTech, Level Platforms or N-able Technologies -- home-grown code could deliver tight integration from the get go. This story isn't done by the way: GFI Software is likely next with MDM capabilities.

MSPmentor will be watching to see which path forward MSPs select.
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