IBM Adds MDM Support for Windows Phone To Meet IT Interest

Big Blue is adding support for Windows Phone to its newly acquired MaaS360 mobile device management (MDM) platform, an IBM official said this week.

IBM added MDM to its portfolio of tools for systems administrators two months ago with its acquisition of Philadelphia-based Fiberlink. The company announced the addition of Windows Phone 8 support at this week's Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona and at the IBM Pulse conference in Las Vegas.

IBM's MaaS360 Productivity Suite provides secure e-mail, calendaring, contacts and a browser. The tool lets IT separate personal apps and data from enterprise software and information. IT can remotely wipe and manage enterprise apps and data without touching the personal side of the smartphone.

Jim Szafranski, senior vice president of customer platform services at IBM's Fiberlink unit, said many of IBM's enterprise customers would like to see their employees use Windows Phone for work-related activities because of its tight integration with Microsoft's back-end systems.

Of course, consumer demand for the Microsoft platform continues to trail that for iPhones and Android devices, he said.

"Actual end user momentum is trailing business interest," Szafranski said. "IT likes Microsoft and likes Windows. They've made a lot of investment in things like Active Directory and Exchange and, as a result, they have a lot of interest in seeing Windows Phone used by employees. I don't think anyone is going to be all-Windows on mobile, but enterprises do want it and I think they have a strong opportunity when it comes to the enterprise side of purchase decisions."

Recent projections from IDC show that while Windows Phone's consumer base is smaller than those for Apple's and Google's mobile platforms, Windows Phone is set to be the fastest-growing mobile OS in the coming years. Much of its growth will come at the expense of BlackBerry, though a small amount will come from Android and iOS. IDC's forecast predicts iOS and Android will continue to account collectively for 90 percent of the market over the next four years. This is slightly down from their current share of 94 percent.

Windows Phone, which currently holds 3 percent of the market, is expected to account for 3.9 percent by the end of 2014 and 7 percent by 2018.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.