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Mobile Device Management Is Dead. It's Time to Shift To Android DevOps It's time to start talking about real-time experience delivery at scale. The age of Android DevOps has arrived

By Yadhu Gopalan

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Digital leaders have a uniquely successful approach to transformation. Innovators are agile, forward-looking and data-driven. They're focused on continuously adding customer value. Digital leaders are also far more likely to address processes and infrastructure during the innovation lifecycle.

According to a recent EY study, just 8 per cent of organizations have an established and active framework for governing emerging technologies. Ignoring Internet-of-Things (IoT) risks during the innovation lifecycle can have immense consequences. Even products that are life-critical such as pacemakers have a failure rate of 0.2 per cent during firmware updates. Most often than not, there is a cost when brands treat improvements or updates to their smart device fleets as an afterthought.

Nearly 65 per cent of organizations have experienced negative consequences like a loss of productivity, revenue, or customers due to poorly-planned innovation processes and infrastructure, according to the Ponemon Institute.

The Problem with MDM

Customer experience is a competitive battlefield. According to Gartner, winning experience is tied to technologies for omnichannel engagement and real-time application architecture. Brands can create a one-to-one connection on the customer's terms with kiosks, tablets, and other smart connected devices. Android is the clear platform of choice for delivering touch-enabled device experiences, since it's open-source, flexible and backed with broad support.

Enterprise mobile device management (MDM) isn't enough to compete on customer experience. MDM has its place in the BYOD (bring your own device) space, where information technology protects the enterprise from the devices. For the dedicated device space, it is the wrong tool for the job. You can't use traditional MDM to localize application content. It can't monitor some of the most critical performance metrics, like whether a device is turned off or stolen.

It's time to start talking about real-time experience delivery at scale. The age of Android DevOps has arrived.

Why DevOps?

The word "DevOps" was coined in 2009 by Patrick Debois, who became one of its gurus. The term was formed by combining "development' and "operations', which provides a starting point for understanding exactly what people typically mean when they say "DevOps'.

Notably, DevOps isn't a process or a technology or a standard. It's a set of principles. Many devotees refer to DevOps as a culture or mindset.

"DevOps represents a change in IT culture, focusing on rapid IT service delivery through the adoption of agile, lean practices in the context of a system-oriented approach," wrote Debois.

DevOps emphasizes people (and culture), and it seeks to improve collaboration between operations and development teams.

DevOps implementations utilize technology—especially automation tools that can leverage an increasingly programmable and dynamic infrastructure from a life cycle perspective.

DevOps is the collaboration of people, practice, and technology toward rapid delivery, by Debois's definition. It's a lifecycle mindset that builds on certain types of technologies, including automation and infrastructure. It's inherently cross-functional and scalable because it's system-oriented.

DevOps is a Framework for Customer Value

"For a DevOps team, there's no place like production," says Sam Guckenheimer of Microsoft Azure. "Everything they do is about making customers' experience better."

"There are no silos and no blame game [in DevOps], because the team is mutually accountable," says Guckenheimer.

DevOps generally involves certain working techniques—agile practices and small work batches. Continuous testing is another common thread, as is removing process barriers such as organizational silos.

DevOps team creates hypotheses and experiments to gather evidence. They monitor results and learn quickly, maintaining the ability to fail fast and roll back changes that subtract value. The idea of failing fast and other DevOps principles are deeply embedded in the culture of the world's most innovative brands.

What is Android DevOps?

Anything that changes the state of an enterprise Android device is part of the DevOps lifecycle.

Android DevOps includes applications, configurations, OS, firmware, and auxiliary content. Anytime a change can affect a device or fleet, there's a need to consider the impact on the customer experience, and a need to make the change in a safe manner.

Android DevOps creates shared goals of quality and speed for engineering, product, and customer teams.

Why Does Android DevOps Matter?

Enterprises need Android DevOps processes to control how changes are made, and more importantly, drive innovation into the fabric of the business. Product teams need the ability to create hypotheses, test outcomes, and scale results.

Android DevOps technologies involve infrastructure and monitoring capabilities that support enterprise device DevOps, including application development, monitoring, and telemetry. It involves remote control over device changes, and the ability to isolate and quarantine problems. Finally, DevOps for Android supports rolling back updates when they have a detrimental effect on the fleet.

Android DevOps vs. Enterprise MDM

MDM is part of the Android DevOps ecosystem, but it's not the whole picture. Typical MDM solutions are missing critical capabilities, such as:

  • Pipelines (The ability to control the intake of a change into the fleet)
  • Telemetry Data (The ability to monitor every aspect of your application, system and hardware)
  • Diagnostics (Retrieve valuable diagnostics information from your fleet)
  • Debugging (Ability to debug your applications in real-time in a secure and authenticated manner)
  • Automation (Ability to script and integrate into your DevOps workflow)
  • Developer Tools (Rapidly translate user, app, and device insights into experience and features)
  • Cloud Driven (Centralized visibility and response based on device, OS, and app performance)
  • Integrated Awareness (The cloud creates awareness and connection between app, device, and strategy to respond to meaningful changes in health or performance)

MDM solutions lack perspective into device and application health when touchscreen devices are deployed. When a device crashes or is targeted by tampering, there's no defined process for how teams can "fail fast" by diagnosing, debugging, or patching the problem.

Mission-critical devices need a complete toolchain for governance and continuous improvement, including monitoring, telemetry, and diagnostics. The cloud is a logical answer for creating a centralized, standard approach to testing, deployment, and production across distributed device fleets. When the cloud is used to create a feedback loop between development, operations and device, it's possible to achieve the types of continuous improvement that's core to the DevOps mindset.

It's time for the industry to consider tools that can drive operational excellence. There's a case for frameworks and infrastructure to reduce downtime and continuously improve the customer experience. Today's enterprises need Android DevOps technologies for infrastructure and automation.

The Advantages of Android DevOps

Shifting the mindset and conversation from device management to DevOps can empower efficiency and more data-driven decisions. It can create a continuous stream of customer value. Android DevOps platform can also help organizations create a culture of customer obsession.

Android DevOps is a deeply technical mindset, but it can include both technical experts and novices. Tools like data dashboards and drill-down reporting involve leadership in creating better customer experiences through operational excellence. Android DevOps is a launchpad to compete on customer experience with real-time, data-driven decisions.

Evolve Beyond Android Device Management

Competing on Android customer experience is a conversation that's much bigger than the engineering team. It's a shared effort that involves enterprise-wide momentum toward operational excellence, agility, and customer obsession. Mobile Device Management wasn't designed as a complete toolchain for the Android enterprise device lifecycle. As a standalone solution, it's dead, though it's features still belong in the enterprise device toolchain. It's time for the industry to shift their hearts, minds, and technologies from MDM to Android DevOps.

Yadhu Gopalan

Co-founder & CEO, Esper

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