Companies have been mobile since the PC laptop was introduced and adopted as a core component of doing business. But, the biggest concern, even then, was how to manage the remote systems, particularly those business users that never visited the home office to secure a connection to the company's management infrastructure. When they did finally get a chance to visit, the laptops were impounded by IT for most of the day to ensure virus signature files and software were up-to-date. For the business user, and the IT person who had to schedule time, it was a painful visit.

The solution since has been to provide some sort of consistent and trustworthy remote management solution. In the beginning, there were a handful of startups that helped revolutionize remote management and pioneer mobile device management (MDM). Eventually, those startups were acquired by larger vendors who wanted desperately to enter the MDM race, finally honing in on what we all already knew – that mobile is the future of computing.

So, its 2014 and most every major vendor is attempting to get on the MDM bandwagon. Microsoft has Windows Intune, Symantec has its Mobile Management Suite (through the acquisition of Odyssey Software), VMware has Airwatch (just recently acquired), HP just announced their own Mobile App Catalog, and the list goes on and on. The only 3rd party MDM providers I can think of who haven't been acquired are SOTI, and MobileIron.

There are many, many options available for developing a MDM solution for the corporate infrastructure to better support and manage the growing militia of mobile devices, and most of the offerings are simply "me too" solutions with very little in differentiation. They seem to say, "Everybody else is doing it, we must do it, too."

At IBM Pulse 2014, another well-known vendor has now also entered the fray: Toshiba. Toshiba Cloud Client Manager (TCCM) is a Cloud-based service allowing IT to manage end-point devices using a standard web browser. Sound familiar?

And, just like the other offerings that already exist, Toshiba's service supports multiple platforms, provides for patch management, and power management. Upcoming add-ons include asset management, software management, and MDM.

So, where's the differentiator?

Toshiba states that TCCM also provides HDD health monitoring, which I'm positive is tied directly to Toshiba's own line of PCs, laptops, and mobile devices. So, basically, it's a hook to buy Toshiba products. Toshiba says that…

HDD health monitoring is to provide advance warning before failure occurs, so data can be backed up in time. Using a Toshiba-developed algorithm, potential defects are computed, allowing companies to take proactive steps, such as data backups or replacing vulnerable HDDs as part of an effective business continuity plan.

This is good value, but at the same time aren't we talking about highly mobile users who simply don't have time to make those painful office visits of the past? And, what's the cost these days to replace a PC versus repairing or replacing a hard drive? And, if data is being stored in a corporate approved Cloud storage facility, isn't data being backed up already?

Creativity is lost. We live in a time with little or no innovation. The latest blockbuster movies are just remakes of old stories. Sometimes they get slightly creative to put a twist on the original story, but most times it's simply a remake with better special effects. And, truly isn't that where we are in the tech industry? Most of the cool things we have now are only slightly enhanced versions of what was envisioned and created 20 years ago. Slap a pretty UI on old smartphone technology and "Wala!" you have an iPhone. Create the same software and services in our datacenter that have been running in your company's datacenter for 20 years, and "Wala!" you have the Cloud.

It's hard for me to get excited about new MDM offerings when they are all so much the same. I can scan a headline or a press release and in a matter of seconds identify if it's truly worth my time or not. It's a sad state. As the MDM space continues to get even more crowded, you would hope that it would serve to better highlight the best offerings in the space, but unfortunately it has the opposite effect. The best-of-breed innovators like SOTI and MobileIron are blurring into a very crowded stereogram making it harder for them to standout.

BTW: Yes…the following is a stereogram. Click the image to get a larger view. Can you see SOTI and MobileIron in it?