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In the span of just a few months, mobile-device management (MDM) has gone from being an independent product category to a becoming a feature of a larger class of products—and it’s happened faster than any other technology in recent memory.

The latest example of MDM as a feature of another product comes in the form of N-Central 9.1 from N-Able Technologies, a provider of IT automation services that are resold by managed-service providers (MSPs).

In addition to adding support for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, along with tighter integration with professional services automation (PSA) platforms from Autotask and ConnectWise, N-Central now includes a Mobile Manager module that MSPs can use to add MDM services to their existing portfolio of managed services.

N-Able President J.P. Jauvin said that with the rise of mobile computing and the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon, organizations are looking to MSPs for IT management services more than ever.

“IT is getting more complex with more points of failure,” said Jauvin. “This is all part of the evolution of computing, wherein mobile goes hand-in-hand with cloud computing.”

The challenge facing providers of IT management services goes well beyond simply managing devices. Users now have multiple devices, which requires providers of IT services to be able to maintain some context about the users, regardless of what device they are using at any given moment.

That user-centric approach to managing IT services requires more than just new management tools. It requires new IT management processes in areas such as security and application deployment.

“MSPs are going to need a lot visibility,” said Jauvin, who explained that this issue led N-Able to develop its own MDM module, rather than simply licensing one of the many existing third-party MDM products already available.

While there is no shortage of options for gaining that visibility, Jauvin said that in an era in which solution providers are trying to limit capital investment, N-able is continuing to bet that MSPs will find it more cost-effective to resell IT management services rather than build their own platforms.