So you have put together a mobility plan, have made it known to your organization, and are now ready to execute –how can you get everyone going in the same direction? Managing the mobile devices in your organization doesn’t have to be an exercise in herding cats. When it comes to Mobile Device Management (MDM) there’s an app for that! Actually there are quite a few apps for that. The number of solutions for Mobile Device Management feels a little overwhelming when you really start to look. But to put your mind at ease I’ll tell you a secret the MDM solutions won’t tell you in their marketing literature – there are a limited number of options for remote management that each device offers. Since MDM solutions manage the same devices they all have to work with those same limitations. There are many similarities in functionality between the solutions and you can put this functionality into several categories. With that in mind here is a guide you can leverage in selecting the right MDM solution options for you.
The first aspect you will want to compare is device platform support. Which device platforms are you planning on supporting; Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Symbian, WebOS, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7? Do you plan on leveraging your MDM solution to manage tablet and laptops as well? Is there a minimum version of the OS that you will require? Are you providing the devices to users in your organization or are you going the Bring Your Own Device Route (which lowers liability, cost, and control while increasing support). If you go BYOD you would do well to survey everyone for what devices they have to at least get a sense of what the current ecosystem looks like. This will allow you to being to align solutions to your reality.
To begin with do you even know what apps you want to leverage in your organization? What support can the different MDM solutions offer in terms of provisioning, licensing, distribution, and removal of apps? Some MDM solutions offer more of a marketplace experience where users can select the approved applications while others just push required apps to the devices. Are you going to allow users to install apps outside of an approved list as they see fit? Many MDM solutions offer the ability to white/blacklist apps. This will become especially important as a response to security vulnerabilities in the future to keep unknowing users away from problem apps. Lastly if/when an employee leaves does the MDM solution assist in removal of apps? This will help keep app licenses in compliance.
Data is a big one – arguably the most important area. Data is what really matters to your organization in terms of value and where your biggest security risk lies. Depending on your level of security requirements this could be the main differentiator for organizations when looking for a MDM solution. First of all do you want to allow personal and corporate data on the same device? Can the data be mixed? Some MDM solutions allow for segregation of personal and corporate data. Next does your data need to be encrypted? At what level? MDM solutions offer varying levels of encryption from full device to none at all. Determine what level you require and narrow your selection to solutions that offer that level. Are you interested in data backup? Some MDM Solutions allow for data from mobile devices to be automatically stored offline. This is a feature that will grow in importance as mobile devices are used more and more for productivity. Lastly, in the unfortunate event of a lost or stolen phone, can the data be remotely wiped from the phone?
IT MANAGEMENT SUPPORT
You may also want to look at IT management features that the different MDM solutions provide. These features include the ability to enforce security policy rules, Active Directory integration, data usage alerts, inventory management, etc . These features fall into the ease of use category and will likely improve as the MDM solution space matures. You also want to consider your hosting needs both present and future. Do you require on-premise or a SaaS model? Does the solution allow you to migrate easily from one to the other?
KEEPING AN EYE OUT
There are a group of features that many MDM solutions offer that seem to fit into some sort of Orwellian Big Brother category. These are features such as communication capture (capturing calls, texts, and data) , geolocation tracking, and remote control. Paranoia aside, these features do provide needed functionality of a non-nefarious nature. Understanding how you intend to use these features and disclosing that to all users in your Mobile Policy is the best practice.
Leveraging mobility in your organization can and will be of great value. Having a plan on how you will use it and how it can be managed will assure for a concerted effort that derives the most value for your organization. Conversely approaching mobility in a grow-as-you-go fashion will leave you with a lot to clean up later and increase your risk exposure. How do you plan to use mobility?