by Mark Gibbs

Making Mobile Manageable: What You Need to Ask

Nov 09, 20113 mins
Consumer ElectronicsIT LeadershipMobile

If you're not looking for an enterprise mobile device management (MDM) solution already, you're behind the curve. Here are six key questions to consider when searching for an MDM provider, from blogger Mark Gibbs.

While a lot of IT folks still look upon the Apple iPad as a dangerous toy, most users (which may well include your CEO) think quite differently about them.

Now, it’s true that at one time IT’s position on mobile device security in general seemed more reasonable, since most consumer-oriented technologies, iPads, iPhones, and pretty much every mobile device that wasn’t a BlackBerry, weren’t built to be managed in an enterprise environment.

Thankfully, those days are over, and today a growing number of vendors offer comprehensive mobile device management (MDM) solutions that make not only iPads but also iPhones, Android devices, and a range of other products, both safe and manageable in the enterprise.

If you’re looking for an enterprise MDM solution here are six key considerations in making a choice:

  • How hard will it be to integrate the MDM solution with your existing infrastructure? Integrating MDM is hard enough when you have a single business unit to deal with but across multiple business units, locations, or even countries, an enterprise-wide MDM rollout can be a nightmare. Look for solutions with simple installation requirements, distributed control, and scalability suitable for your organization’s size and structure.
  • What resources will the MDM solution require on the client? If the MDM system requires any significant percentage of the storage or processing capability on the client side, the solution could be problematic with mobile devices that are running other high performance demand apps or have limited storage.
  • Will the MDM solution support regulatory compliance, auditing, and reporting standards? This is obvious a crucial issue if you’re in a regulated industry and if you are, the key concern is whether the auditing and reporting is comprehensive enough to meet current requirements and what plans does the vendor have for meeting possible future regulatory demands.
  • When device exceptions (conditions that indicate tampering, client side MDM failure, etc.) are detected can you force remote wiping and or other remediation activities? This is crucial whether you’re in a regulated industry or just trying to maintain corporate privacy.
  • How does the MDM solution support disconnected devices? The reality of mobile communications is that it’s guaranteed that there will be outages either because of loss of coverage or service problems. In these situations how will MDM work? Will the client lose access to enterprise data? If data is cached on the device, will the data be secure? If the disconnection lasts for more than a certain amount of time can the data be made inaccessible or even wiped completely?
  • How flexible is the MDM architecture? Mobile Device Management is relatively new IT territory and the biggest problem is that the end points, the mobile devices, are evolving faster than almost any other business technology. Dig deep into MDM vendor thinking, architecture, and engineering because choosing a solution that isn’t designed to be flexible will become a real problem as new mobile devices become part of the mix.

So, if you’re not investigating MDM already, why not? If you are, where are you at in the process? And if you’ve already deployed a solution which one did you choose and what do you think of it?