MDM: Four Key Areas to Consider When Selecting a Provider

By TechZone360 Special Guest
Scott Kraege, Director, MOBI Wireless Management
November 13, 2012

With the ever-increasing number of employees using mobile devices to access both personal and work-related content on corporate networks, mobile device management (MDM) is becoming a significant point of discussion among enterprises.  At its most basic, MDM works to monitor devices and protect the data on the network those devices are accessing.

With so many mobile devices tapping into the network – especially with the trending bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program in business – implementing an MDM solution is becoming commonplace.

Ultimately, MDM providers offer a unique set of services. If enterprises have the internal infrastructure, resources and policy, MDM solutions are a simple implementation. With the confusion around MDM services and offerings, we thought it would be a good idea to cover the basics.

The Basics

There are many different MDM providers, each offering a solution for solving similar problems, but they all do it in several different ways. MDM capabilities vary and ultimately depend on the company’s needs, priorities and business rules/policies. An MDM solution provides a convenient way to manage certain aspects of corporate devices, but it is important to understand that the device management process doesn’t end with MDMs.

Each MDM solution requires an investment, set up, integration, support and hands-on resources and effort to ensure it is working at its full capacity.

When choosing a MDM solution, an organization should look for a provider that offers the best combination of meeting requirements, integration, management and support. We often see enterprises at a crossroads when their MDM doesn’t offer custom workflow or managed service solutions. At the basic solution level, any high-performance MDM solution can help enterprises quickly resolve connectivity issues, push policy updates, troubleshoot technical issues, monitor device diagnostics and remotely configure devices.

Based on recent findings comparing 12 MDM industry leaders, below are four key areas that should be considered when searching for an MDM provider. The findings are based off technical data sheets, webinars, corporate representatives and Gartner.

Delivery Method

There are several different ways to incorporate an MDM into your existing corporate infrastructure, such as with SaaS cloud, on-premises appliances and on-premises software. Six of the 12 providers offered delivery through a SaaS cloud solution while AirWatch and MobileIron were the only two providers who offer on-premise applications. Just about all of the top providers offer an on-premises software delivery option, which is the most common approach for businesses.

Supported Mobile Devices

When transitioning into using an MDM service provider, consider the device operating systems within your program – and not simply today’s devices, but consider your future device road map. Just about all top notch providers will support Apple iOS, Google Android, Windows 7 phone and Blackberry operating systems, but you might come across the rare bump with a few providers when you get out of the mainstream mobile operating systems.

Based on research, Symbian and Web OS/Palm seem to have the least MDM providers available.

Enterprise Integration

Just as considering the operating system in an organization’s mobile devices is important, so is considering its existing corporate infrastructure. Of the 12 providers reviewed, all 12 offered integration with LDAP/AD, PKI Infrastructure/Certs. (SCEP), MS ActiveSync, and VPN. Regardless of infrastructure system, there shouldn’t be much difficulty finding an MDM provider that is compatible with any well-established organization’s infrastructure system.

Key Supported Features

Nearly every key feature on an organization’s mobile devices will be supported by any of the leading MDM providers. Key features include Wi-Fi configuration, passcode enforcement, device restrictions, app management and robust device reporting – to name a few.  It’s important to identify and compare the services included in an MDM solution to ensure your business’s needs are met, and hopefully exceeded, before and after implementation.

With the proliferation of mobile devices in the workplace, a whole new world of security, support and maintenance has opened up and an organization’s effective use of mobile devices can be greatly limited without the support of a top-notch MDM system in place. Pairing an organization’s existing corporate infrastructure and commonly used mobile devices with an MDM that supports the organization’s key features is always the hard part of the MDM integration, but in the end, your mobile efficiency and security can greatly benefit from incorporating MDM into its system.

Scott Kraege is a director at MOBI Wireless Management, a company that combines a centralized Web-based portal, ongoing expense management, and 24/7 end-user support to help businesses better manage mobile telecom programs. Launched in 2007, MOBI set out to help companies lower wireless expenses, enhance end-user support, enforce wireless policy and save valuable time.




Edited by Braden Becker


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