How to Select Mobile Device Management Solutions
What are the benefits of MDM for businesses? How can it bring security and efficiency to companies with a BYOD policy?
- April 05, 2019
Updated March 3, 2021
In This Article:
MDM is a core component of an organization's enterprise mobility management (EMM) strategy.
MDM solutions involve an endpoint software — an MDM agent — and an MDM server in a company data center, which can either be cloud-based or on-premise.
Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions are used by company IT departments to optimize the security of both company-issued and employees' personal mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. After configuration and installation, such MDM solutions are used to monitor, manage and secure these devices when necessary. A misplaced or stolen corporate mobile device can pose a significant threat to a business because of the proprietary information and trade secrets housed there. MDM solutions provide the ability to locate, lock and potentially wipe lost devices deployed on a network should a situation arise where those actions become necessary.
What is MDM Software?
MDM is a core component of an organization's enterprise mobility management (EMM) strategy. These strategies address the business and technological context of device usage in everyday business operations. EMM suites cover core functions such as hardware inventory, application inventory, operating system management, mobile app deployment, remote view and control for troubleshooting, mobile content management and more. Combined with additional security services and tools, MDM software helps to create a complete mobile device and security EMM solution.
MDM software is evolving as quickly as businesses are evolving. It must in order to keep up with the trends, such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), that are infiltrating the workplace. BYOD refers to employees who are connecting their own personal devices to the secure corporate network. There are benefits to such a policy, including reduced corporate equipment costs, increased employee efficiency, reduced office space (if BYOD means employees are working remotely), decreased IT burden because employees maintain their own devices, etc. However, these devices can expose security vulnerabilities because they are not running an antivirus software, overseen by IT staff, etc. MDM allows businesses to implement a BYOD policy while ensuring data governance and reducing the company vulnerability to hacking.
MDM is implemented to control, secure and enforce policies in real-time on endpoint devices in order to optimize the functionality and security, while also protecting the corporate network that is accessed by those devices.
How Does MDM Software Work?
MDM solutions involve an endpoint software — an MDM agent — and an MDM server in a company data center, which can either be cloud-based or on-premise. The MDM agent is uploaded onto the mobile devices used to access the corporate network. IT administrators configure policies through the MDM server's management console, which then pushes those policies to the MDM agent on the mobile device.
All MDM solutions have similar features that allow for: device inventory and tracking, app distribution, remote wipe, password enforcement, app whitelisting and blacklisting and data encryption enforcement. Microsoft (Intune), IBM (MaaS360) and Cisco (Meraki) are just three of the big leaders in the contest for the best MDM software.
MDM allows an organization to deliver a secure mobile solution and environment to its workforce. With control across multiple mobile devices, apps, network and data, MDM is an end-to-end software comprised of several tools.
There are several points to consider when choosing a software for your organization. No matter the industry, you must find the right MDM solution for your enterprise.
First, consider the solution's ease of use. It needs to be easy for your IT department to implement and run. Is the administrative dashboard simple and natural? What about device control? Is device enrollment simple, and is device control intuitive? How easy is it for end-users to self-serve and troubleshoot from an app?
Second, take your corporate data security needs into account. A company handling government contracts with top-secret information probably has different security and compliance needs than a small e-commerce merchant. Consider the sensitivity of the information that is being transferred between mobile devices — do you need to follow specific regulations regarding privacy and security; will you require containment capabilities or device logs?
Third, evaluate the devices that need protection. Are you protecting corporate-owned mobile devices? Do you have a BYOD policy? What operating systems are being used across all devices?
Fourth, think about what you need to manage on the devices. Will you need to monitor for abnormal use and endpoint management? Will you need to enable geo-location capabilities that turn the device on or off based on the user's location? What do you intend the devices to be used for in the future?
Lastly, consider the applications that your organization uses. What applications are currently being used, and what do you anticipate being used in the future? Will you need to custom build secure applications? Will all the same apps be pushed out to all employees, or will the application needs differ?
Like any type of software, you need to carefully consider your needs before choosing an MDM solution. It is important to consider both your current needs and your future needs instead of making a hasty decision based on what you need right at this moment. You want to find a solution that not only fits the needs of your business but also has the capabilities to meet the needs presented by the changing landscape of your industry.