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 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 way MDM works, New German for mobile device management: An agent is installed on the device and communicates via the air interface with a management server that is on premises or-increasingly often – in the cloud. The second essential element of any MDM solution is the management interfaces (APIs) that operating system providers and some device manufacturers provide in their operating systems to enable user companies to configure, deploy, secure, monitor, manage and integrate their devices.
The operation of an MDM system on the example of Samsung Knox (c) Samsung
Blackberry OS was the 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 trying to ensure that companies can implement further and above all cross-operating system company guidelines with the help of adjustments.
Another example of the market maturity of MDM solutions is that the individual providers hardly differ in the classic MDM features. So there are only gradual differences, at least for the established operating systems Android and iOS. A certain differentiation, however, still represents the time when new operating system versions and their features are supported after deployment. In addition, there are 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. The IT department can also determine which apps a user group is allowed to install. With the help of an MDM solution, it is also able to take measures in the event of rule violations, such as locking the device and prohibiting the user from accessing company resources. In the event of loss or theft, a device managed via MDM can even be locked remotely and all content deleted.
Although 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, also block it and delete all content (including the private photo album). With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force on 25 May 2018 at the latest, BYOD is also legally a serious problem that companies must address with technical means. Thus, the GDPR provides – among other things-a clear separation of business and private.
Even in the mitigated version COPE (Corporate-Owned, Privately Enabled), 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 sealed business area (containerization) or enterprise applications with the associated data (mobile management MAM). Nevertheless, MDM is the foundation of any comprehensive EMM solution – as well as any unified endpoint management solution – enhanced by the management 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. Solutions tested include Citrix, IBM, Microsoft, Sophos, and VMware. Here you can download the result PDF.