What is Mobile Device Management (MDM)?

Let’s talk about Mobile Device Management (MDM), a software that allows taking control of portable devices. Once under management, an administrator can enforce rules for those devices to abide by. These rules, or policies, can include a passcode, restrictions, apps, email, and much more.

What does MDM consider a mobile device? The easy ones to reference are iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and tablets, but what about a mobile printer, laptops, scanners, iWatch, drones…? In order for a mobile device to be able to be managed by MDM software, the manufacturer has to make the device’s features available for MDM. So this definition is constantly changing, as devices become more popular for use in our daily personal and business lives, manufacturers are enabling more toes of devices and features. IoT is coming and I am sure these ubiquitous devices will be quickly added to the list.

Different companies have different ways of referring to their MDM program such as Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) or End User Computing (EUC), but no matter what you call it, the rules are limited to what the manufacturer makes available on their devices as well as what the MDM provider enables on their admin console. Therefore it is important for the MDM provider to have a close relationship with the manufacturers so they can keep up with these features as they are made available or removed.

Big decisions that will affect your MDM capabilities are choosing the types of devices allowed for your organization, most popular are Android vs iOS, type of enrollment Enterprise vs BYOD. Additionally a specific manufacturer like Samsung offers more options for MDM as well as more enterprise focused solutions

The entire suite of capabilities that encompass MDM can be broken down into the following:

MDM: device policies such as disabling the camera, buttons, or settings access.

MEM: Mobile Email Management – enterprise email capabilities.

MAM: Mobile Application Management – delivering apps to the devices.

MCM: Mobile Content Management – delivering secure files from a drive or directory.

I will write another article diving into each section at a later time.

It is important to note what MDM is not. It is not a GPS tracker, telecom collection tool, or AD group policy compliant. MDM can do some of these aspects but there are caveats to each feature. There is a trend moving toward an AD group like management. Some of the most popular providers include VMware UEM(aka AirWatch), IBM MaaS360, Mobile Iron, Citrix XenMobile, and Good Technology.

Let me know your thoughts regarding MDM in the comments below.

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