The best solutions for Mobile Device Management

The best solutions for Mobile Device Management

Software for mobile device management helps the IT department to create security, transparency and control when using smartphones and tablets in the company. You should know these solutions. […]

Despite newer terms such as Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) and unified Endpoint management (UEM) as well as varieties such as mobile application Management (MAM), mobile content management (MCM) or mobile information Management (MIM), the term mobile device management (MDM) is still firmly anchored in the minds of IT administrators. And rightly so, because MDM still forms the basis for the management of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets in companies.

The most common mode of operation of MDM, New German for mobile device management: An agent is installed on the terminal and communicates via the air interface with a management server that is located on premises or – increasingly often – in the cloud. The second essential element of any MDM solution are the management interfaces (APIs) that operating system providers and some device manufacturers provide in their operating systems to enable user companies to configure, deploy (enrollment), backup, monitor, manage and integrate the end devices.

The functioning of an MDM system using the example of Samsung Knox (c) Samsung

Blackberry OS was a leader in this area until its end, but now Android and iOS also offer a lot of management interfaces for MDM providers. In addition, providers of Android smartphones and tablets such as Samsung are also striving to ensure that companies can implement further and above all cross-operating system company policies with the help of adjustments.

Another example of the market readiness of the MDM solutions is that the individual providers hardly differ in the classic MDM features. So there are only gradual differences, at least as far as the support for the established operating systems Android and iOS is concerned. However, a certain differentiation is still the time when new operating system versions and their features are supported after deployment. In addition, there are also providers who specialize in the management of Linux and other exotic devices.

Classic examples of policies that can be specified or enforced with the help of an MDM solution are the use of a secure passcode or the automatic configuration of user profile, e-mail account, VPN and WLAN access. In addition, the IT department can determine which apps a user group may install. With the help of an MDM solution, it is also able to take measures in the event of rule violations, for example, to block the device and prohibit the user from accessing company resources. In the event of loss or theft, a terminal managed via MDM can even be locked remotely and all content deleted.

Although the MDM solutions have matured significantly over the years and support more and more management functions, there are limits. This makes it difficult for the IT department to create transparency and control with MDM alone and to ensure the necessary data security if employees want to use mobile devices privately and professionally – keyword ByoD (Bring your own Device).

In principle, hardly any employee agrees that his private device is managed by his employer and that he may control the device and, if necessary, block it and delete all content (including the private photo album). With the General Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO, GDPR), which came into force on May 25, 2018 at the latest, ByoD is also a serious legal problem that companies must address with technical means. Among other things, the GDPR provides for a clear separation of business and private data.

Even in the mitigated COPE (Corporate-Owned, Privately Enabled) variant, where company devices may also be used privately, companies are forced to resort to other means. These include advanced EMM solutions that do not manage the entire device, but only a closed business area (containerization) or enterprise applications with the associated data (Mobile Application Management – MAM). Nevertheless, MDM forms the basis for every comprehensive EMM solution – as well as for every unified endpoint management solution extended by the administration of Windows 10 and MacOSX.

The colleagues of our US sister publication Computerworld compared all major MDM, EMM and UEM platforms in a comprehensive test in ten different categories. The tested solutions include Citrix, IBM, Microsoft, Sophos and VMware, among others. Here you can download the PDF.

*Diego Wyllie studied business informatics at the Technical University of Munich and, as a software developer and specialist author, spends a lot of time writing – either program code for web and mobile applications or specialist articles on software topics.

**Manfred Bremmer deals with (almost) everything that falls into the fields of mobile computing and communications. He prefers to take a close look at mobile solutions, operating systems, apps and devices and checks them for their business suitability. Bremmer is interested in gadgets of all kinds and also tests them.

***Florian Maier deals with many topics related to technology and management. In addition, he is also active in social networks.

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