Getting the Most from MDM
October 11, 2013
By Mae Kowalke
, TMCnet Contributor
With bring-your-own-device (BYOD) sweeping the corporate world almost as fast as smartphone adoption, businesses of all sizes must grapple with how to keep corporate data secure while employees are using that data on personal devices. It is one thing to hand an employee a company-provisioned mobile device with enterprise-grade security, and quite another to have an employee walking around with key data on a phone that doesn’t even have a passphrase. IT should be afraid—very afraid.
This is where mobile device management (MDM) enters the picture. With MDM, businesses can reassert a measure of control and data security even if they can’t completely control the BYOD trend.
Making the most of MDM requires thoughtfulness, however.
First, it is important to decide which users, applications and devices need to be mobilized. Who needs mobile access, what data and applications must be mobile, and on which devices and under what circumstances should they be mobile? There's no reason why every possible combination of mobile device and operating system needs to be allowed, and some applications should stay safely in the office environment to avoid possible data loss. Just because users and apps can be mobile does not mean they should be.
Second, understand the scope and limitations of MDM. Some of the MDM features can include configuration management, local policy enforcement, security management, usage monitoring, auditing, reporting and much more, but it is important to understand the value of the capabilities and also their limitations. For instance, it may be possible to wipe a mobile device remotely with MDM, but if the device is not reported lost in a timely manner, an experienced thief might be able to extract the data before the remote wipe can take place.
Third, it is important to ensure that MDM is properly placed within the larger IT strategy. IT teams should carefully consider operational requirements and constraints when evaluating MDM solutions. For some management systems, it may make more sense to keep the system away from mobile. IT should also scrutinize vendor product and service licensing terms, and pay attention to functionality such as device onboarding and good user support. Not all MDM solutions are created equal, and not all solutions fit with a company’s IT strategy. So it is important to review the larger strategy and how MDM should fit into it.
Finally, it is important to remember that MDM is still an evolving technology that is going to change over time.
MDM represents just one aspect of an overall mobility management solution. Data security, for example, more properly falls under the category of mobile application or mobile information management (MAM/MIM). Many MDM solutions are growing into MAM/MIM solutions, however, and the industry still is in flux. So it is important to pay attention not only to where the MDM vendor is today, but also where they are headed and the industry is moving in general. Nine years ago there was no such thing as MDM, and the technology is still evolving.
Edited by Blaise McNamee