Apple device management solutions. Apple device management solutions

Apple device management solutions

By David Snow 12:00 pm, March 18, 2020

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This top 5 Apple MDM platforms post is presented by Hexnode.

With the surge in recent years of employees working via smartphones, tablets and laptops from all over the place, it’s no surprise mobile device management, aka MDM, has become a crucial tool for organizations large and small. Then add in the near-ubiquity of Cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps, plus companies letting employees use their own devices (BYOD). It all equals MDM becoming an unavoidable part of IT security. Ignore it at your own risk.

But how do companies choose which solution to use? We’ve compiled a top 5 Apple MDM platforms list that will help lay out the advantages — and the occasional disadvantages — of the some of the best products out there. They are Hexnode, Jamf, VMWare Workspace One, MobileIron and IBM MaaS360. All offer various monthly, tiered subscription plans with pricing per device managed.

Hexnode

Named a Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for unified endpoint management (UEM) tools twice in 2019, Hexnode is a comprehensive MDM platform. It’s scalable for enterprises of all sizes in any industry. It’s built to safeguard corporate data and devices with location tracking, device restrictions, blocking of malicious content and websites, and more. The product’s compliance-management capabilities enable device monitoring, status checking and automatic updates. That may sound complicated, yet Hexnode features a gentle learning curve and requires minimal training for your IT staff.

Via its central management console, Hexnode works across platforms: iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, Android, Windows PCs and Amazon Fire OS. It supports Apple Business Manager (ABM) and Apple Configurator seamlessly for hands-free enrollment and efficient device management. Its iOS-supervised features allow for advanced device management. App management enables silent install and bulk install of both generally available and custom-made enterprise apps.

Hexnode supports BYOD management, so your employees can use their personal devices for work. All devices will have “zero-day” support for all major OS releases and updates. Free customer support is available 24 hours a day, five days a week. Pricing is competitive and includes five tiers of service, all with a 30-day free trial option.

VMware Workspace One

VMWare Airwatch recently rebranded as VMWare Workspace One. As the oldest product represented here, it’s scalable and boasts a broad range of features acquired, in part, through integrations with other market players. It offers secure lifetime management of apps, data, desktops, network access, telecommunications and personal and corporate devices (including peripherals and wearables). It features a virtual application delivery platform called Horizon.

As an intelligent and secure endpoint- and app-management solution with on-premises and Cloud versions, Workspace One manages virtually any device and any app. It supports iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, along with Mac and Apple TV. It also integrates with Apple for an out-of-the-box device enrollment experience.

Workspace One may lose a few points for lacking fast, chat-based customer service and for having a relatively high price tag across a range of options. It is free to try, however.

Jamf

Jamf offers a set of Apple-only device management and security solutions. Some are particularly well-suited to schools; others are best for businesses of various sizes. Its endpoint management suite enables MDM, identity access management (IAM), mobile content management (MCM) and mobile application management (MAM).

Jamf supports iOS, iPadOS, macOS and tvOS. It provides day-zero support for all major Apple OS upgrades, helping to ensure that your users and their devices stay up to date and secure.

It takes just a small staff to handle Jamf’s management of any number of devices. However, that staff can’t get started without training from Jamf. An additional minor drawback of Jamf is that pricing is moderate to high. On the flip side, its customer support is solid overall. Its large “Jamf Nation” community can be quite helpful with answering questions, too.

MobileIron

MobileIron is a highly scalable solution to secure mobile apps and data with a strong security suite that supports all major OS platforms, including iOS and macOS. It supports the entire macOS lifecycle, from provision through configuration and management.

Thanks to ABM integration, Apple users get an out-of-box experience with MobileIron. Your network also will enjoy lots of features, including efficient email management, solid IAM, a BYOD option and a robust threat-defense system.

Device enrollment through ABM is integrated with Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), enabling single sign-on (SSO) or zero sign-on (no password) capabilities for users. App management is efficient, with the ability to push both App Store and in-house products. Frequent product updates bring new fixes and features. However, pricing is on the high end.

IBM MaaS360

As a complete, feature-rich, Cloud-based endpoint management solution, IBM MaaS360 supports all major OS platforms. It incorporates IBM’s intuitive artificial intelligence, known as Watson, which enables risk visualization. MaaS360 also features a strong app-management suite, with enterprise-level integrations for smooth device management.

MaaS360 works with ABM for hands-free enrollment of Apple devices. Device and network security is strengthened through containerization, gateways and a series of endpoint integrations. The product integrates with Wandera and its Mobile Threat Defense (MTD) technology for threat detection and management.

Getting AI and a full range of features with your MDM means a high price tag, but IBM offers a range of pricing options.

Conclusion

Comprehensive MDM has become a critical factor in effective IT security, thanks to a vast increase in Cloud computing and the number of mobile devices in the workforce. Fortunately, your organization’s IT department has solid product choices to address MDM that can be scaled to virtually any number of devices. With all of the products described above, seamless integration with Apple ABM ensures easy device enrollment and Rapid deployment of OS updates. Each of the products has tiered pricing plans that help tailor services to your scale and needs. For the money, you can’t go wrong with any of them, but for its affordability, range of features and stellar customer service, Hexnode appears to have the edge.

Best Mobile Device Management Software

With the perpetual advancement in technology comes a new era of wireless engagements. This boom in technological excellence has emancipated devices that were previously tethered to sockets. Faster wireless technology has ensured more significant access to users present just about anywhere in the world. The breaking of conventional boundaries and allowing devices wireless freedom has introduced new challenges in all aspects of life, particularly business organizations. The challenges are further inflated by the Coronavirus pandemic that presently plagues the world. One of the most significant challenges posed by the wireless era of networking is security. The challenge begs the question: How can businesses ensure their data is secured on devices out of their physical reach—the answer: Mobile Device Management software.

Here is our list of the best Mobile Device Management software:

  • Kandji – FREE TRIAL This unified endpoint management system covers all Apple devices, including Macs, MacBooks, and iOS mobile devices. This is a Cloud-based service.
  • ManageEngine Mobile Device Manager Α free MDM solution compatible across many devices and operating systems, hence offering maximum coverage.
  • Miradore Mobile Device Management Α Cloud-based, online, and free-of-charge service aimed at small and mid-sized businesses.
  • Scalefusion Α Cloud-based MDM solution only covering smartphones-both iPhone and Android.
  • Jamf Now Αn automated Cloud-based MDM service that covers iOS devices.
  • Soti MobiControl An endpoint mobile device management solution that can monitor up to 170 vendors from a single location.
  • Cisco Meraki An excellent MDM solution used for the management of laptops and smartphones.
  • IBM Maas360 An excellent MDM solution capable of supporting Windows, macOS, iOS, androids, and even IoTs.

Why is MDM necessary?

One of the biggest concerns businesses have has been the security of their data. Data is one of the most critical resources of any organization, and its safety shall highly dictate the organization’s future. Businesses are willing to go above and beyond to mitigate the systematic risk to their data. Since mobile devices cannot always be confined to office spaces, a new solution had to be developed to monitor the devices remotely. For this purpose, organizations turned to mobile device management software. MDMs eliminates the vulnerability of data by providing security capabilities on connected devices. The security ensures that all data on the device is always secure. MDMs also enable the administration to fence off data from connected devices if they suspect a data breach. Even if a device is lost, MDM servers can locate the device and wipe out all essential data remotely.

Businesses are always looking for the best ways to enhance the efficiency of their employees and increase productivity. MDMs cater to this need by allowing the administration privileges to monitor the connected devices. Admin can also grant authorizations on various levels to different mobiles. The surveillance by the admin ensures that employees are always working towards organizational goals hence improving overall efficiency and reliability. Conveniently, it is also apt for organizations to quickly set up new devices and save time and resources.

Cloud computing is the future of all wireless communication. In Cloud computing, all the data of an organization is stored on a server which can be accessed from anywhere in the world given specific authorizations. MDMs allow organizations to help connect devices with the organization’s central servers and quickly form an inside network of servers and devices.

The Best MDM Software

Kandji – FREE TRIAL

Kandji is a Cloud-based unified endpoint management system that supervises devices produced by Apple. This means that it can set up, track, and maintain, Macs, MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads.

The service has routines to manage a fleet of company-owned devices and also make business services available to user-owned devices without the risk of data loss. The user-owned devices that are tracked by the systems can be in your offices, in a BYOD scenario, out in the field, or in the homes of home-based workers. Desktops owned by telecommuting employees can also be managed through this system.

As this service is based in the clouds, it isn’t limited to managing devices on one site. You can include any device anywhere in your plan, just as long as it can connect to the internet. You can set up an application menu for each employee – this can be implemented by groups – and then that user logs into an account on any machine to get access to that software. The tool enables single sign-on and device switching.

The Kandji package includes patch management for operating systems and authorized apps. The tool manages the installers on its servers, so you don’t have to go hunting with software suppliers for updates.

Mobile device tracking features include the ability to lock a device if it is mislaid or completely wipe it if it is stolen. This ensures that company data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

  • Highly-scalable Cloud-based platform
  • Supports both BYOD and managed devices
  • Offers muti-tenant tools – great for MSPs
  • Supports virtually all mobile device brands

Kandji offers pricing that is tailored to your needs. Get in touch for a direct quote based on the type of plan you choose and the number of users managed.

ManageEngine Mobile Device Manager

ManageEngine Mobile Device Manager is a free MDM solution compatible across many devices and operating systems, hence offering maximum coverage. It is compatible with Android, iOS, ChromeOS, macOS, and Windows. In addition to the broad scope, it also provides the choice of an on-premise service or Cloud-based service.

One of the critical features of ManageEngine is its customizable dashboard which allows easy and convenient access to all information related to the mobile devices. This aids in monitoring as the admin can view crucial information on the connected devices, including device owner name, installed applications, and access to the data stored on the device. The high level of surveillance ensures transparency between the employer and the employee. Furthermore, ManageEngine provides remote troubleshooting. If there is an issue in a connected device, the admin can resolve the issue remotely in real-time. The admin can also communicate with the end-user using a built-in chat function. The chat function also facilitates issuing security commands to the mobile device. Also, the admin can even control the device remotely if necessary and ensure they have control over the data in the device. over, ManageEngine audit tools can help monitor the network by tracking the number of connected devices. Audit tools also notify the admin if a device leaves the premises of the prescribed boundaries.

However, despite its broad range of functions, ManageEngine has its technical complexities. First of all, The device registration process is very complex and not straightforward. The device registration process drains valuable time that could have been utilized in another activity. Preparing customized reports on ManageEngine requires knowledge of SQL, which furthers it away from the general users and only allows SQL specialists to make custom reports.

  • Designed to work right away, features over 200 customizable widgets to build unique dashboards and reports
  • Leverages autodiscovery to find, inventory, and map new devices
  • Uses intelligent alerting to reduce false positives and eliminate alert fatigue across larger networks
  • Supports email, SMS, and webhook for numerous alerting channels
  • Integrates well in the ManageEngine ecosystem with their other products

The standard and professional edition of ManageEngine is free up to 25 connected devices regardless of On-premise or Cloud service. Afterward, the depend on the number of connected devices and the service used, whether on-premise or Cloud.

Miradore Mobile Device Management

Miradore Mobile Device Management is a Cloud-based, online, and free-of-charge service aimed at small and mid-sized businesses. It is compatible with all the operating systems, including Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows.

One of the critical features of Miradore is its end-to-end encryption and the ability to have complete control over necessary data remotely. Miradore allows the admin to be able to lock the device containing the information remotely. It also allows the admin to wipe out all of the device data if necessary. Furthermore, Miradore can also bypass hardware passwords and also be able to reset them. Miradore has innovative, selective wipe implantation called ‘ Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD). BYOD allows the admin to wipe out all data related to the organization while keeping all personal data intact. This can be a pretty helpful feature in current times when everyone owns a personal mobile device.

In addition, a map displayed on the dashboard provides admin information regarding the location of all connected devices on the network. From the dashboard, admins can send out notifications to all the connected devices and issue new commands. Also, if a device gets lost, the admin can sound an alarm on it and help trace its location.

Registration with Miradore is easier as compared to ManageEngine. First, all the devices connected with Miradore are sent out an invite to join the network. Afterward, the invited devices are set up with the Miradore client. The configuration allows access to secure email apps, safer Wi-Fi connections, and a VPN service. However, the VPN service is only available for iOS only.

However, most of the features mentioned above are only available for premium tier users and not a part of the free package. Furthermore, even though all of these features are available in the base packages of other MDMs, they are locked behind a small paywall in Miradore.

  • Offers three flexible pricing options
  • Encrypts communications via VPN
  • Provides security features as an add on

Miradore offers three levels of services. The base package is free and only allows the user access to the security-related tools. The first premium package is the business edition that costs 1 per device. The Second premium package is the Enterprise edition that costs 2 per device. over, Miradore is the cheapest option despite a lack of functionality in the base package.

Scalefusion

With the rise of smartphones operating on Android, there was a huge public concern that androids are relatively less secure than iPhones and blackberries. As a result, there was a substantial public disagreement regarding the use of Android phones for business purposes. However, with MDMs like Scalefusion, the administration completely controlled iPhones and Android devices in their premises.

Scalefusion is a Cloud-based MDM solution only covering smartphones-both iPhone and Android. Scalefusion allows users to control the data on iOS and Android devices. One of the critical features of Scalefusion is the kiosk mode, which reverts the device display to a custom display and limits access to certain apps and websites. Scalefusion can also limit the functionality of the device’s operating system, preventing users from changing specific settings, downloading unauthorized apps, and preventing them from accessing certain websites. Admin also has the authority to push files into the mobile device directly from Scalefusion. In addition, the admin can wipe out all the data on the mobile device; however, unlike Miradore’s BYOD, Scalefusion cannot selectively wipe data. Admin can also lock access to data if necessary. The restrictions do not make the connected device obsolete. However, users can still enjoy a list of pre-selected apps and pre-approved websites.

One concern regarding Scalefusion would be that it provides too much control over the data in the mobile device rendering it useless to store personal data.

  • Excellent interface – easy to learn and navigate
  • Supports both iPhone and Android
  • Can monitor managed device usage, data, and location
  • Simple scalable pricing

The starter edition of Scalefusion begins at 2 per device. In comparison, the business and enterprise edition is 3 and 4 per device, respectively.

Jamf Now

If you are looking for an MDM solution solely for iOS devices, then JamfNow is great for all your needs. Jamf Now is a Cloud-based MDM service that covers iOS devices. Jamf Now is attractive because it is automated. It will automatically notify the admin if unauthorized action occurs on the device, such as jailbreaking or installation of unauthorized applications. Jamf’s dashboard provides a list of all connected devices, including installed apps and the device’s serial number. Devices that are connected to Jamf can be secured centrally through a password. For an extra layer of security, the admin can also opt for two-factor authentication. In addition, Jamf features a lost mode that will lock the device and notifies the admin of its location. Finally, like all MDMs, Jamf allows users to wipe out all data on a device remotely.

However, one might question its limited coverage in big businesses since big organizations use various devices with different operating systems. Therefore, Jamf might be a tempting option for sole owners or partnerships where there aren’t many devices connected to the network.

  • Leverages a sleek and intuitive dashboard interface
  • Uses playbooks and blueprints to templatize device policies
  • Can recover lost devices and secure them from data theft

Jamf has a variety of packages starting at different prices. The lowest is Jamf Now, which starts at 2 per device. Each package has its price per device. However, Jamf is free for the first three devices.

Soti MobiControl

Soti MobiControl is an endpoint mobile device management solution that can monitor up to 170 vendors from a single location. Soti MobiControl supports all devices ranging from Windows to macOS to androids. With Soti MobiControl, you can be confident over the security of your most valuable resource, data.

Soti MobiControls provide remote viewing and remote control features. With remote viewing, an admin can monitor the activity on the end-user screen in real-time. The remote control allows the admin to control the end-user device remotely and sort out any issues. It also facilitates communication by providing a chat feature that the admin and end-user can discuss issues.

Soti MobiControl also allows mobile content management by securing data on Cloud servers and allowing authorized users to access it. For this purpose, the admin can upload their files to the Soti Hub app and permit relevant users to access it. In this way, sensitive information would stay safe from prying eyes.

Soti MobiControl also allows applications management by allowing admin to restrict access to certain apps and websites. The blacklist ensures that the team does not have access to non-business-related apps that will hinder productivity.

  • Supports over 170 different vendor devices
  • Allows technicians to manage devices and even remotely control them
  • Supports access auditing

Soti MobiControl does not provide pricing information on its website. Hence, one must request pricing on their website. However, they do offer a 30-day free trial, which is enough to gauge the potential of this MDM solution.

Cisco Meraki

CiscoMeraki is an excellent MDM solution used for the management of laptops and smartphones. It can manage an extensive range of devices running different operating systems. However, it cannot manage Wi-Fi-connected devices like printers.

Cisco Meraki is a highly secure MDM solution encrypted by AES. A VPN also secures all the communication with Cisco. It has an attractive User interface that communicates all necessary information in one place. It also features a map that displays the locations of all connected devices.

Configuration on Cisco Meraki is relatively easy. The admin can create a group and configure it in bulk, adding new devices to the group as necessary. The admin can also configure individually. Data and apps are delivered through a system called a backpack. The admin uploads a group of files and authorizes different groups and individuals to access it, after which they appear to the end-user.

Like other MDM solutions, Cisco Meraki can lock a device if necessary and wipe out all data on the device. In addition, Cisco can track the mobile data usage on the phone and detect a high use on a stolen device. Afterward, it can be cut off from the network, and all data can be wiped. Cisco Meraki also features BYOD integrations allowing users to safeguard personal information on their corporate endeavors.

  • Protects communications with AES-256 bit encryption
  • Supports BYOD enrollment
  • Supports remote wipes for stolen devices

Pricing details can be requested from Cisco Meraki’s website.

IBM Maas360

IBM is a renowned work organization when it comes to Cloud-related services. The list of services also includes mobile device management software. IBM Maas360 is an excellent MDM solution capable of supporting Windows, macOS, iOS, androids, and even IoTs. For managing IoTs, Maas360 is one of the most outstanding software that will ensure that all devices are protected and do not cause a security risk. Maas360 can also manage intelligent devices by Google and Amazon. Maas360 can also monitor data usage on connected devices in real-time and push updates from a centralized location.

One of the best features of Maas360 is that it is relatively more secure. In addition to the security policies, Maas360 can detect and eliminate malware on end users’ devices. This process ensures no external risk to data stored in devices and data is secured from malware. Furthermore, the extra layer of security prevents the information from being compromised, putting any organization at risk.

  • Built with enterprises in mind
  • Good fit for those looking to monitor IoT devices
  • Can detect and defend against malware

The for IBM Maas360 start at 4 per device per month. Users can also register on a per user basis which costs 6 per user per month.

Conclusion

In the current world, data is one of the most important resources an organization can own. Organizations must take every step to ensure that their information is safe. With the matrix of wireless connections, it becomes difficult to constantly monitor all devices handling your organization’s data. Therefore, Mobile device management software is a great tool to minimize the risk of your data being compromised. All small and large organizations need to pursue MDM plans for the sustainability of the organization.

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Jamf and more: Apple MDM tools for smaller businesses

Apple’s recently announced Business Essentials service is a powerful entry point into the world of Apple device and user management. But there’s a point at which small and midsize organizations (to say nothing about large enterprises) will outgrow the service. At — or ideally before — that point, it will be time to research what other Apple device management solutions are on the market.

In this story I’ll look at companies that support Apple’s MDM (mobile device management) platform and that specialize in Apple device and user management.

What exactly is MDM, and is it the only way to manage Apple products?

Let’s start with a brief recap of what Apple MDM is and how it operates. MDM is an open platform that Apple launched in 2010 to make management and security provisioning of its mobile devices simple for enterprise environments. Apple’s MDM launch coincided with the introduction of the iPad and the iPhone 4 at a time when business users had already begun to use their personal devices for work purposes — with or without IT’s involvement (the latter a phenomenon that came to be dubbed shadow IT). MDM offered a way to integrate those devices (and any company-purchased Apple devices including iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple TVs) in a secure manner.

Somewhat counter to its usual way of working, Apple itself did not build its own MDM software, preferring to leave that to third-party companies that had an enterprise FOCUS and user base. Many of those companies merged or were acquired, and most began to FOCUS beyond just Apple devices as Samsung launched its own security and management product called KNOX and as management capabilities in Android came online. Over time, those vendors’ MDM products added even more capabilities, expanding to become enterprise mobility management (EMM) suites and eventually unified endpoint management (UEM) platforms that cover a wide range of devices and OSes.

Apple’s MDM framework has gone through quite a bit of development in the past 11-plus years. But at its heart, it uses XML data to define management characteristics, provision devices with security credentials and apps, block access to certain features, and set certain requirements like passcode use. It also enables zero-touch deployment where a user can receive a device still in packaging that will automatically configure itself once the user provides their login credentials.

With iOS 15, Apple is moving to a model it calls declarative management that puts more of the policy enforcement on the device rather than requiring the MDM service to poll devices. The basic concept of MDM, however, is the same. (For more details, see my take on declarative management, “How Apple is changing MDM in iOS 15,” and check out the related session videos from Apple’s developer conference.)

MDM isn’t the only way to manage Apple devices. Placing an agent on a device, particularly a Mac, can allow more granular reporting and management. It can also perform greater configuration and integration with various enterprise platforms like SAP, IBM, Slack, and so on. Device agents can also be used to deliver a custom curated app store for licensed or internal enterprise apps.

The major Apple device management vendors

With that background, let’s start looking at the companies that specialize in Apple MDM.

Jamf: The most established vendor focusing on Apple management in the enterprise, Jamf was making Mac management solutions well before the iPhone was introduced. Its lead in Apple device management, particularly beyond MDM, is due to its experience and the integrations it has made with other enterprise technology vendors such as SAP. (See “How Jamf fits into the enterprise device management landscape” for more details.)

While Jamf offers excellent services, they are mostly aimed at large enterprises that need Apple product management and enablement. The company’s numerous offerings are likely to overwhelm small businesses, with more features (and a higher price tag) than many SMB organizations need and can afford.

Kandji: Kandji is a somewhat new player in the Apple MDM space. The company’s big value-add is automation. There are very often a number of steps and tasks to building out an Apple MDM environment. With hundreds of automations, Kandji is an excellent option for many SMB organizations.

SimpleMDM: The name says it all. SimpleMDM is focused on making Apple MDM decisions and deployments as simple as possible. For overwhelmed SMB IT teams, SimpleMDM is almost a panacea. Even its licensing is simple — simpler than that of almost any vendor I’ve seen.

Addigy: Addigy seems like David in the land of the Goliath. The company acknowledges that it’s a small team. This could be a detriment, but the vendor seems very well suited for SMBs, particularly small teams experiencing significant growth. They seem to offer a very personal or “white glove” experience for companies that are usually too small to make it to white glove status. The downside is that the company and the platform are still maturing.

Device management beyond Apple products

The companies highlighted above are those that FOCUS exclusively on Apple, and, Jamf aside, on small and midsize businesses. They are experts in working with this market because they specialize in serving it.

But if your company’s needs go beyond managing Apple devices, there are several additional vendors that offer multiple-platform options. Some are independent best-of-breed standalone products, and others are well-established enterprise vendors — Microsoft, Citrix, and VMware, for example — that build a company’s IT stack and throw in device management at a low cost because of the large licensing that an organization has with them. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, and you may want to combine approaches, as explored in my recent story “With EMM, should you go full stack or best of breed?”

The most important thing for the SMB market to know is that there are several excellent options for supporting and managing Apple products in business and education, and that one solution doesn’t fit all. That’s okay, because there are choices out there for wherever you, your team, and your organization are.

The Beginner’s Guide to Mobile Device Management (MDM)

How many times do you reach for your mobile device every day? The average American checks their smartphone once every 4 minutes. Psst: that’s more than 125,000 times per year. Statistics for daily tablet and laptop usage are also impressive. Our collective compulsion to stay digitally connected combined with the rise of remote work has significantly impacted how we get stuff done. Record numbers of employees are logging into Zoom meetings while running errands, making lunches, and brushing teeth.

As reported in Verizon’s Mobile Security Index 2022, 45% of respondents said their organization had experienced a mobile device security incident that led to data loss, downtime or other negative outcomes. Furthermore, 73% described the impact of the attack as major. The worst part? Many of the incidents could have been avoided by following mobile device management best practices. As Verizon mentions:

Mobile devices are prone to many of the same attacks as other devices. Most phishing attacks and badly coded sites can affect them; mobile users might even be more vulnerable. And there are also mobile-specific exploits—like malicious apps and rogue wireless hotspots.

What Is Mobile Device Management?

When selecting an MDM solution, IT managers and managed service providers (MSPs) have many choices. Different types of MDMs support different types of devices, capabilities, and operating systems. Regardless, all MDM platforms fall into two distinct categories: on-premise and Cloud-based MDM.

Benefits of Mobile Device Management

One of the biggest motivators of implementing mobile device management is reduced security breach instances. But most organizations gain several additional benefits from implementing effective MDM programs. Here’s a quick look at the security-focused perks that come with MDM:

  • Reduced costs: Less likely to encounter costly breaches.
  • Bird’s-eye security: Enables remote oversight of users, devices, and applications to scan for threats remotely.
  • Increased peace of mind: Data backup to prevent loss of crucial data.
  • Improved housekeeping: Offers automatic deletion of temporary storage queues to free up space and reduce clogging.
  • Controlled updates: Admins dictate when updates are installed on devices.
  • Encrypted communication: Supports the secure communication of proprietary information between employees.
  • Increased efficiency: Improves onboarding experience for new hires.
  • Enhanced convenience: Safeguards bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies.

With benefits like these it’s no surprise that analysts expect the demand for MDM solutions to grow. Experts predict the 4.5 billion global MDM market to grow 24% by 2028.

How Does Mobile Device Management Software Work?

The initial setup of mobile device management software varies from platform to platform. But, for most MDMs, the process begins with enrolling devices in the software or server. Depending on the particular MDM solution, enrollment may happen through registering devices with vendor-specific programs (e.g., Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft) or by adding devices manually via tokens, QR codes, NFC chips, or email/SMS.

Once devices are enrolled, admins simply login to their MDM portals for a bird’s-eye view of what’s happening. IT admins then use their management consoles to push configurations and applications to enrolled devices over the air (OTA).

Technically speaking, the MDM server (software) sends out a set of commands that are applied to devices through application programming interfaces (APIs) built in the operating system.

Cost of Mobile Device Management

According to a 2021JumpCloud survey, 47% of small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) plan to spend more on mobile technologies, while 58% plan to spend more on remote management. Do you fall into this category?

Today’s IT managers face the immense responsibility of reducing departmental spending in the face of inflation, supply chain issues, and competing budgetary requests. Managers must optimize their operations while keeping their budgets lean.

The good news? User-based pricing is now available for budgets of all sizes. Admins can also take advantage of free trial versions to test out MDM systems before making a commitment.

The JumpCloud Directory platform is ideal for organizations wanting to consolidate identity and access management (IAM) with MDM — without breaking the bank.

Our platform features macOS and Windows MDM capabilities as a native functionality of its general device management capabilities. Admins can also enjoy group policy functions, ad hoc command execution, and a convenient single sign-on (SSO) mechanism that isn’t available anywhere else.

Of course, deploying any new type of technology isn’t without its challenges. Let’s take a closer look at common roadblocks IT teams should be aware of before upleveling MDM systems.

Challenges of Mobile Device Management

To get the most out of any managed mobility solution, admins must understand the costs, use cases, and challenges upfront. Obviously, failing to effectively manage remote work devices poses security risks, but what does that actually mean?

Below are the most common challenges of mobile device management:

Network Access Control

Digital workspaces are fielding requests from employees wanting to use both company-issued and personal mobile devices. This hybrid approach makes it difficult to regulate network access without jeopardizing security.

It’s crucial to ensure employees have constant access to company systems, apps, and data they need to work while keeping everything safe and secure. After all, it’s not a business unless people are getting work done! But balancing practicality with security is an ongoing challenge for most IT managers.

Fortunately, network access control (NAC) tools, like those found in the JumpCloud Directory, allow admins to enforce security policies that both users and devices must comply with to receive access.

Data Security

Another headache associated with personal mobile devices in virtual work environments? The more devices connected to a network, the more entry points cybercriminals have to infiltrate company systems.

Unfortunately, smartphones and tablets pose heightened security risks because they often contain less comprehensive anti-malware software compared to laptops and desktops. On the other hand, laptops and desktops are still the primary vehicle through which work gets done, and thus continue to be a primary target for enterprising criminal organizations despite gains being made in endpoint security. Again, robust MDM solutions can help businesses plug vulnerable data gaps and secure their mobile environments across all device types.

They accomplish this goal by separating personal and corporate profiles on personal mobile devices, automating data encryption, and engaging “lock and erase” functionalities that help ensure company data doesn’t get into the wrong hands should devices become lost or stolen.

User Experience

Of course, admins must also consider user experience when managing mobility. MDMs that severely limit certain device functionalities can frustrate employees.

For example, overly vigilant settings could flag frequently used software as “vulnerable,” that workers rely on to accomplish daily tasks. This could motivate workers who rely on said software to complete daily tasks to jailbreak devices.

With that said, it’s essential to consider how employees feel before choosing an MDM solution and whether it will impact their productivity and performance.

Migration

At some point, an organization might need to replace its MDM software. Whether the change is motivated by cutting costs or wanting an upgrade, software migration can be challenging — to say the least.

It’s not unusual for admins to underestimate the amount of time it takes to locate, migrate, and organize data into a new system. Besides exercising caution not to lose or corrupt data, organizations must consider the resources required to change course.

Our IT experts recommend preparing for the migration months in advance. Develop a clearly written plan, make a task force, and communicate essential details to ensure everyone understands their responsibilities moving forward.

BYOD Policies

As of 2018, more than 75% of organizations had incorporated BYOD into their policies. The number of personal devices used for work has only increased with the adoption of digital workspaces.

Needless to say, supporting all these devices has become a major challenge. There’s frequent onboarding and offboarding as remote employees acquire new devices and discard old ones. Additionally, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the entrance of new mobile devices with new technologies in the marketplace!

Unfortunately, few organizations have effective BYOD policies in place. Why? Many admins assume MDM software automatically takes care of BYOD before investing in a platform, while this is not the case.

Lack of Skilled Workers

According to the World Economic Forum, only 27% of small companies and 29% of large companies have the digital talent necessary to fill available roles.

The problem is not lack of technology but lack of talent. With that said, one of the biggest hurdles companies face in the deployment of MDM solutions is a short-staffed IT department to get the job done.

Of course, all of these challenges can be overcome with the right strategies, policies, and MDM software at your disposal. Let’s dive into how to get started with MDM.

Manage All Devices in One Platform

Best Practices for Virtual Device Management

Follow these mobile device management best practices for smooth deployment:

Identify Your MDM Needs

Before you even begin thinking of investing in an MDM solution, identify your needs and understand the types of devices you’ll be managing. Some questions to ask during the initial assessment include:

  • What types of devices will we be managing (laptops, tablets, smartphones)?
  • What are their primary operating systems (Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and/or iOS/iPadOS)?
  • How many devices are in our environment?
  • What tasks will workers use the devices to complete?
  • Which applications will they need for specific tasks?
  • How are devices currently connected to the network?
  • What areas do we absolutely need to improve upon?

Only when you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to plan your MDM implementation.

Automate to Save Time

It’s no secret that automation saves time, but it also simplifies MDM usage and minimizes security risks. Choose software with advanced reporting functionality that immediately alerts admins of policy violations.

Such violations should trigger automatic device locking, selective data wiping, or the appropriate actions depending on the level of control breach. Automated reports also make it easy to retrieve and analyze data for informed decision-making.

Enforce Strong Password/MFA Policies

In addition, enforce strict password and multi-factor authentication (MFA) policies. It’s the first step to securing mobile devices and sensitive company data by ensuring only authorized personnel can access them.

Some basic password policy guidelines worth considering include:

  • Enforce complex passwords wherever possible
  • Prohibit password sharing and reuse
  • Set minimum and maximum password ages
  • Require the use of password managers to help ensure password complexity and diversity needs are met

Beefing up your organization’s password policies is by far the simplest way to strengthen mobile security from wherever you are right now.

Backup Files and Data

Ten percent of organizations don’t back up their data at all, while 50% of professional users believe backups aren’t necessary. This is an extremely troubling statistic considering that 68% of users lose data due to accidental deletion, hardware failure, software failure, or out-of-date backups!

Mitigate the risk of data loss by creating standard operating procedures to automatically back up files and data. Modern MDM solutions like JumpCloud run on Cloud-based storage that coincides with automated backups. Translation: there is no need to rely on local drives anymore.

Whitelist, Blacklist, and Update Applications

Another essential aspect of MDM is keeping software updated. Regular software updates strengthen IT environments, reduce system vulnerabilities, and make it difficult for cybercriminals to infiltrate networks.

Consider restricting rooted devices and only allowing approved apps for company use to enhance network security. In addition, blacklist any relevant unauthorized apps.

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Keep Systems Updated

Up-to-date applications are only as effective as their operating systems. So, don’t forget to keep your OS up to date too. Outdated systems can also slow down software functionality, making for unpleasant user experiences. And cumbersome UX leads to unproductive downtime!

Gather Support

In most instances, setting up an MDM system is fairly straightforward. But that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter unforeseen challenges down the line. Ensure your IT department has access to support services before settling for a particular vendor.

In addition, make sure the platform comes with support for any pain points in the MDM process — both before and after installation.

A reliable MDM vendor will have resellers, managed service providers (MSPs), carriers, and other strategic partners you can work with hand in hand to get the best out of your platform. They will supplement the efforts of your IT team.

Regular Safety Training for Employees

Every MDM solution is built differently. So, before installation, ensure all relevant users understand your platform’s features and how they work. You can even organize for the vendor to run a training session for employees.

After installation, regularly remind team members of security policies, best practices, and safe use of the MDM. Include mobile device management policies in new employee orientation training and company manuals. And evolve your training as your technology and security advancements change.

Finally, review MDM policies and retrain employees on updates routinely.

MDM Solution Comparisons

This may sound like an over-simplification, but choosing any software solution is a lot like buying toothpaste. Grocery shoppers often experience overwhelm when navigating the toothpaste aisle. Author and psychologist Barry Schwartz calls it the “paradox of choice.”

When greeted by a variety of brands — all claiming to do more or less the same thing — shoppers often become paralyzed with indecision. Alternatively, fast-growing startups are known to prematurely select software platforms without considering their comprehensive needs.

Each vendor claims to have specific capabilities for specific wants, needs, and concerns. The unique tooth care goals/preferences will, ultimately, dictate final purchase decisions.

Similarly, some MDM tools cover only basic security features, while others include extra layers of protection. Here’s a list of features you’ll likely to come across:

  • Security requirements for passwords
  • Basic settings (e.g., locking screens)
  • App restrictions and permissions
  • Location tracking
  • Remote locking and wiping
  • Forced updates
  • Data encryption

Unfortunately, MDM solutions are rarely system-agnostic. The diverse needs within one organization often dictate using several MDM tools, matching each operating system/device with its own tool. If you have a heterogeneous OS environment, shortlisting solutions that support this can pay dividends down the road, even if the specific feature set or upfront costs are less attractive.

Factors to consider when weighing options include the challenges you’re looking to solve, the types of devices and OSs you need to manage, and whether you want a comprehensive device management solution versus a point device solution. Below are the primary different categories of MDM solutions:

Windows MDM

A Windows MDM solution can help simplify the management of Windows devices by securing, monitoring, and auditing them. Admins can easily enroll devices, assign users, distribute apps and content, and enforce data security policies with Windows MDMs. For those overseeing Windows-only environments, Microsoft Intune is worth considering.

Apple MDM

Apple devices were rarely used outside of education or creative sectors until the 2010s. As such, admins didn’t give much thought to Mac device management. The security risks posed by a handful of employee-owned devices seemed minimal. However, this is no longer the case. Apple products now far outnumber Windows devices in many modern organizations.

apple, device, management, solutions

In recent years, Apple has released several security enhancements to improve both user privacy and organizational transparency. But it’s recommended that admins use official Apple MDM vendors to further safeguard data located both on prem and in the Cloud.

We recommend Jamf for those seeking basic mac device management capabilities. For those looking to combine MDM with identity and access management (IAM) in a heterogeneous environment, we recommend the JumpCloud Directory.

JumpCloud is an Apple-certified MDM vendor that provides deployment for macOS workstations through the platform’s Apple Device Enrollment Plan (DEP).

Linux MDM

Even though Linux OS only accounts for 2.2% of the global OS market, IT admins must still consider it as a core part of their device fleet. Managing Linux devices is a big challenge for many organizations today.

Ensure every system and server is patched, processes are functioning as intended, log files are rotated, and the right users are on each device among others. This makes Linux virtual device management a task only a few IT admins want to undertake. But the right Linux MDM tool can make device management possible for most administrators.

Open Source MDM

Several high-quality open source MDM solutions are now available. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) without expansive budgets often go for open source MDMs. The open source platforms are free and provide a variety of customization options. With that said, open source often necessitates a greater time investment in terms of initial setup.

Until recently, MDM software solutions for each of the aforementioned categories were only available in on-premise formats that made it difficult to oversee both on-prem and off-prem devices. But the growing shift toward remote work is now demanding MDM solution compatibility with heterogeneous environments, which brings us to where we are now.

With a name like JumpCloud, you won’t be surprised to hear our endorsement of Cloud platforms. Cloud software provides an extraordinary reduction in cost and time compared to its traditional counterparts. Alternatively, on-prem servers necesitate heavy lifting, longer timeframes, and higher costs from IT teams.

Despite recent leaps made across the marketplace, most virtual device management solutions still don’t allow comprehensive device management. You’ll have to enlist the help of JumpCloud for that.

The Evolution of Mobile Device Management

Several important events happened in 2001: Nickelback released the worst one-hit-wonder known to mankind. Apple released a revolutionary service called iTunes.

And SOTI became the first real mobile management solution to gain traction amongst tech-heads. But MDM didn’t really take off until mobile devices had officially gone mainstream around 2010. Throughout the decade, mobile device management capabilities steadily improved.

Organizations could manage entire device lifecycles, including asset management, configuration management, and remote wipes. However, despite the small usage percentage of Apple and Linux devices, the marketplace exclusively catered to Microsoft OS for a while.

It didn’t take long for Microsoft Windows Active Directory to become the de facto, premise-based platform for managing group policies, controlling user accounts, and providing centralized data management.

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Over the decade, MDM solutions evolved to support features like:

  • Containerization: As organizations adopt BYOD programs, MDMs are expanding to allow clear separation of personal and company assets on a single device. This ensures that IT admins don’t infringe on the privacy of employees while corporate assets (apps and data) can’t be accessed without proper authentication and used for personal gain.
  • Mobile application management (MAM) and mobile content management (MCM): Modern MDM solutions also offer MAM to help organizations manage and control the purchase, management, distribution, and deployment of bulk apps. MCM, on the other hand, facilitates seamless and secure sharing of enterprise content and data across managed devices.
  • Remote control and data wipe: In the event of loss or theft, IT admins can easily wipe sensitive company data before thieves download it. This helps companies maintain the integrity of their assets.

Emerging trends influencing MDM development include security challenges with internet of things (IoT) devices, deep packet inspection to tackle malicious traffic, and devices with varied configurations. Expect MDM solutions to become more relevant, agile, and stronger.

The Evolution of MDM in Heterogeneous Environments

It’s worth emphasizing that developers originally created MDM in segregated environments. Google made MDMs for Android systems, Apple developed solutions for iOS and macOS, and Microsoft did so for its Windows operating systems.

Of course, working in a Windows-centric workspace is no longer a given. Organizations are now switching to Cloud-based applications, remote work policies, and BYOD at an astounding rate. For this reason, Cloud-based MDM has emerged as the superior solution for heterogenous and remote work environments.

JumpCloud Directory’s architecture streamlines MDM by allowing IT admins to make fleet-wide configurations to multiple types of devices and operating systems from a single console. Even better, with JumpCloud for Google Workspace, IT teams can now unify identity and access management for added convenience and security.

Securely connect to any resource using Google Workspace and JumpCloud.