Mobile Device Management: Getting Started
Analysts: Where MDM Can Still Get Better
Mobile management applications have come a long way in the last year or so to help enterprises, says the 451 Group's Hazelton, but there's still more that can improve.
Today, the big needs are managing the devices and handling email, but enterprises are already looking ahead to provide custom provisioning of applications and data to the right people in their organizations so the entire mobile environment can be more secure and more easily managed, Hazelton says.
One other enterprise need that's seeing progress is the creation of private application stores that are providing analytics apps and management tools for mobile enterprise applications, Hazelton explains.
"There's definitely a lot of demand for MDM," he says. "It really answers a pressing pain point for IT departments." But so far, only about 20 to 25% of the marketplace has such strategies in place for iOS and Android devices, based on his research. The numbers are certainly higher for BlackBerry users, he explains, because those devices have been around longer and use RIM's enterprise-ready applications.
"It's most exciting," he says. "You have all this energy around smartphones and enabling them. Enterprise mobility is here for the rest of our careers."
Overall, Carfax's Matthews says, "we tell our employees that it's all one life and you can manage it however you want to do work and your personal stuff. We get a lot more out of employees that way. I think they're happy personally because they don't see this device as tethered to them and they can do other things in between work assignments."
Tips for Creating an Enterprise MDM Strategy
Enterprise IT leaders who have been working to build MDM programs inside their companies offer these ideas for how to get started.
Decide what devices your workers will use, whether they'll be corporate-issued devices or bring-your-own devices that will be supported by the company.
Make sure that whatever devices you choose can handle the level of security that your business requires.
Create and implement strong security and device use policies and be sure to communicate them with employees from the start. Be sure that your devices include remote wiping capabilities and automatic remote alerts that can tell you if unauthorized users are trying to access or hack the devices.
Require and implement mandatory strong passwords to keep them as secure as possible.
Examine how your MDM plan terms will be viewed legally wherever your company does business, from state to state in the U.S. and in other nations, to be sure that you abide by all applicable laws.
Explain to employees which applications will be approved and permissible on employee devices.
Don't be surprised if there is some disgruntlement from some employees when the new MDM strategy is implemented. Make sure to educate, train and, if possible, offer some benefit with the new approach.
Remember that your MDM plan will never be finished, but will need to constantly evolve as new devices and technologies are introduced.
A Sampling of MDM Vendors
The list of vendors in the MDM marketplace is ever-changing as companies continue to roll out features and new products to help make mobile tech both easier to manage and more secure.
Here is a sampling of some of the major commercial vendors that are making noise in the emerging field of mobile device management, according to industry analysts interviewed for this story.
Apperian Mobile Application Management -- Mobile, secure application development
Boxtone Enterprise Mobility Management -- promises "centralized, automated control of all mobile devices and tablets"
Citrix Receiver -- Access to corporate data from "any computing device," Citrix says, along with an enterprise app store.
Good Technology -- A suite that includes access to email, calendar and intranet-based apps, as well as the means to build an internal applications store.
Kaseya Mobile Device Management -- Policy-based management tools for mobile devices (phones and tablets).
LANdesk Mobility Management -- Discovery, inventory and the ability to remotely wipe devices.
Mobile Iron -- Multiplatform device management with security that works even on employees' personal phones, the vendor claims.
Mocana Mobile App Protection (MAP) - Shuts down virus and malware attacks against smartphones, the vendor claims.
Novell ZENworks Endpoint Security Management -- Encryption, the ability to disable removable storage devices and firewall features in one console.
Nukona -- Now part of Symantec, this product promises to securely deploy and manage both Web-based apps as well as native smartphone software.
PartnerPedia Secure Mobile App Management -- Allows corporate IT to control the publishing, distribution and management of approved applications to end-user devices.
Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist and freelance writer who worked as a staff reporter for Computerworld.com from 2000 to 2008. Follow him on Twitter, where his handle is @TechManTalking, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.