How to choose the best MDM partner: 5 important considerations

This is what organizations should consider using a mobile server management server.

Image: Nattakorn Maneerat, Getty Images / iStockphoto

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative adds a low level of complexity to the way IT manages all different devices, while protecting core infrastructure and data assets. Before your organization decides which MDM (Mobile Device Management) solution you want to work with, these are five important considerations. The wrong choice will result in a loss of time, money and productivity, and may potentially leave the organization with a solution that does not fully meet its needs or concerns.

SEE: Limiting the risks of BYOD in the company (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

1. Supports fully developer frameworks

MDM software works primarily by enforcing policies and restrictions on mobile devices. This policy is based on frameworks (such as blueprints) made by software developers who determine how these devices can and cannot be controlled. Many MDM solutions support the full range of developer frameworks, which means that all policies are available for management; some solutions only support certain functions; and others can limit which policies are available to manage. It is best to go with a provider that supports all frameworks for the device and OS types that your organization must manage.

2. Zero-day support for updates and upgrades

In the field of support, find out if the partner also offers zero-day support for the latest upgrades. For example, when Apple releases a new version of its iPadOS, it is launched worldwide. If your organization supports a large number of iPads and you want to benefit from immediately locking the latest settings, your MDM solution needs to be updated to support the latest features. If the supplier does not offer zero-day support, users can quickly update without the required management coverage to manage those early adopter devices.

3. Cloud hosting arrangement and scalability

MDM solutions come in different flavors, such as on-premise (on-network) or hosted in the cloud (off-network). Although the needs of your organization and the regulations to which they are subject will greatly determine the type of MDM solution that you need, it is not uncommon for organizations to use a cloud-based solution. If you have a good understanding of where the servers are located, how they are organized, and what scalability options are available, this can make the difference between device management that occurs minutes after commands are issued or hours.

SEE: Increase in disruptions of mobile devices has an impact on employee productivity (TechRepublic)

4. Support agreements at company level

Device management can be the central aspect of an MDM, but, like all scale applications, don’t forget the service level or support agreement when you partner with a supplier. Like all services, they will sometimes fail, or your IT team needs guidance on how to best implement a policy or block a function. This is where a good support team intervenes to help correct problems that might otherwise prevent management from progressing according to plan. And don’t forget the training – some partners offer self-service or face-to-face training as a separate fee or included in the service level agreement.

5. Advanced integration with services

This is not required for the management functions to work properly – it is more a “good to have” that can add value to the MDM solution and service agreements. An example of added value or advanced functionality is API access for making calls to the backend system, in addition to what is accessible through the GUI. Another example is integration with Active Directory, Azure / Office 365 or proprietary single sign-on support (SSO) that uses the company’s directory services infrastructure for additional security and management.

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