How To Choose A Mobile Device Management Solution

Speaking to customers and prospects, the world over, I have noticed that in the last 6 months the issue around choosing the right MDM (Mobile Device Management) solution has become more and more pressing, especially with companies who are considering or have already adopted a Bring Your Own Device policy.

There are probably about 50 or 60 vendors in the market right now who present themselves as MDMs and I believe it’s really important to try to understand how to choose the MDM vendor that’s right for you. Of course you can go to the best known names or the most expensive vendors but I believe it’s better to select the vendor and solution that suits you best.

This is my very brief guide to choosing an MDM which includes the selection criteria you should consider when evaluating your options.

To my mind the confusion around MDMs is founded in the fact that of the 50 or so vendors in the market each seems to come from a very different heritage and with that brings very different strengths. Some have come from security, some from application sharing, some from mutli tenant management.

This in turn means enterprises can be daunted by the sheer number of offerings and can be unsure where, and how, to make a comparison as it can seem unfair comparing apples to pears. Here is my guide to flattening the playing field and beginning to compare MDMs.

Step 1: Define your mobile strategy

This may seem like an obvious statement but anyone choosing an MDM must first define their mobile strategy. Considerations which may help determine which MDM is best for include; what are we doing about BYOD? Will users bring their own device, will they mix and match will you provide a device they will be permitted to use for personal activities as well?

What are you doing about creating a data vault will you define an enterprise vault on the device? Will you allow blue tooth? Will you permit photographs while on-site? Are you allowing employees to install private applications on a company device? Only when you have thought about all these factors and defined your mobile strategy will you be able to think about an MDM which will best suit this strategy.

Step 2: Define the number of devices

The next key stage is to think about need to think about how many devices you are going to manage, is it hundreds or tens of thousands? The reason that numbers are important is that if you take an on premise solution then you need to try and think about the number of servers and impact on price. If you have more than two or three hundred devices you will need to begin to think about issues such as simultaneous registration and having that capability which will in turn significantly narrow down the field of options.

Step 3: Consider reliability

Reliability is may be hugely important when it comes to an MDM. When we look at mobility an MDM will pretty much enable everything this in turn means the reliability can need to be as high as need to 99.9%. Moving to mobile means dropping the 9 to 5 mentality and moving toward a 24 by 7 offering the whole point of mobility is that people will use it any time and anywhere and your MDM needs to be able to stand up to that it is therefore key to define from a very early stage what is the downtime you can accept

Step 4: Consider customisation

Will your company be happy to work with what comes out of the box, do you have key requirements which are unique to you? Few MDM vendors allow heavy customisations and if this is a make or break issue for you it will again significantly reduce the players in the field.

Step 5: Which license model works for you

Probably one of the key considerations and differentiators when it comes to an MDM is where you would like that MDM to sit, in other words do you require an on premise or cloud solution. We all know Cloud or SaaS based solutions can provide significant savings and benefits via lower infrastructure and support costs, faster implementation and maintenance but for many it comes with security concerns and worries.

Other areas for consideration

The vast majority of MDMs will cater for the following but they are worth considering when creating the strategy which will aid in choosing the platform;

  • Provide cross OS Device Management via a central web-based console
  • Inventory and asset management
  • Remote lock and wipe
  • App Management including rogue app identification
  • Allow for an Enterprise Data Boundary
  • Real-Time Roaming Notification
  • Persistent logs and audit trails
  • Enterprise Integration

As I have said the vast majority of solutions on the market will provide you with these but these are the key areas you need to think about when formulating your mobile and MDM strategy. Once you have considered all these factors and made the key decisions you can then begin to look into the vendors and try and do a comparison between them according to your own requirements, rather than being driven by external factors.

Choosing an MDM, like choosing any key application, can a be a minefield but I truly believe that if you arm yourself with all the information, research the offerings and how they can benefit or hinder you then you will be able to choose a solution which will do you well for the next 5+ years but be warned a mistake could cost you dearly.

David Akka is Managing Director at Magic Software Enterprises UK. David is a successful executive manager with a proven track record as a general manager with a strong background in sales, marketing, business development and operations. Past experience in technology and service delivery include both UK and European responsibilities.