By Charles Leaver

What Microsoft’s Nokia acquisition means for endpoint management strategies

Mobile device proliferation has dramatically complicated the endpoint management strategies employed by many leading enterprises, and endpoint security and control may soon get even more difficult thanks to Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Nokia.

Earlier this month, Microsoft sent shockwaves throughout the business and IT worlds when it announced that it would spend $7.2 billion to obtain Nokia’s devices and services business, which includes its line of mobile hardware. With the move to get the second biggest cellphone maker in the world, Microsoft is now expected to be a far larger player in the already crowded device manufacturing market, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Bringing these great teams together will accelerate Microsoft’s share and profits in phones, and strengthen the overall opportunities for both Microsoft and our partners across our entire family of devices and services,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said.

Expect further device proliferation
According to the Times, the move comes as Microsoft attempts to better position itself against rivals like Apple as consumers and enterprises further embrace handheld technology. A June report from the Pew Research Center found that 56 percent of all Americans over 18 now own a smartphone, and the rise in popularity of bring-your-own-device policies means that a fair number of these products were ending up in corporate environments for enterprise-related purposes.

However, prior to this deal, Microsoft has failed to capture a significant amount of this market. IDC earlier this month predicted that smartphone sales will grow 7.3 percent by the end of 2013, although devices running the Microsoft Windows mobile operating system are only expected to make up 3.9 percent of the approximately 1 billion cellphones sent out over the course of this year.

While device manufacturers like Apple and Samsung are currently dominating the marketplace, Microsoft’s recent announcement plus other industry happenings will likely create more market parity over the next five years. IDC predicted that between today and 2017, the compound annual growth rate of phones running the Android OS will drop slightly, but it will go up for Apple iOS and Windows phones.

Why endpoint management may never be the same
For consumers looking for more full-fledged smartphones, Microsoft’s recent announcement is welcome news. For enterprises already dealing with personal mobile device proliferation, however, this expected shift in the smartphone market may create more management and security headaches.

When it comes to data leak prevention, BYOD can create a nightmarish situation for IT departments. Many technology professionals are used to maintaining the security of one type of computer running one operating system. However, as more and more smartphones flood the market and enter business settings, these professionals are now tasked with securing more devices and OSs than ever before. With Microsoft making a bigger push into this market, the already complicated task of endpoint security and control just potentially got even harder.

To address this concern, IT departments should consider utilizing state-of-the-art endpoint protection software. Armed with this data leak protection tool, cybersecurity professionals are able to more easily oversee all devices accessing enterprise materials and more quickly alert decision makers should an issue be discovered.

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