September 29, 2016
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Buyer's Guide: 5 Key Considerations for Mobile Management Software
Used to be, mobile device management meant mobile IT had to oversee laptops, wireless network security, mobile Internet connections, the occasional use of mobile VoIP and BlackBerry applications, or maybe a fleet of ruggedized handhelds using RFID. Now, that's all changed. The use of employee -owned smartphones in the enterprise has exploded over that last couple of years, thanks -- to a large extent -- to the success of the iPhone. In total, the number of employee-liable devices used in enterprises quadrupled during 2008 according to research from Aberdeen Group.
To help you assess the market, here are five questions that you need to ask any vendor:
1. What mobile platforms will you support?This is a deceptively simple question. If you were planning on running a homogeneous mobile environment, using just Microsoft Windows mobile phones or Blackberrys, then there would be some obvious solutions, such as Microsoft's System Center Mobile Device Manager or Blackberry Enterprise Server. But if the use of employee-liable phones is to be allowed or encouraged, then any management platform has to support the mobile devices employees want to buy. Most vendors see providing support for the iPhone as a necessity, but attitudes vary on whether or not to support platforms such as Nokia's Symbian, Google's Android and Palm's webOS. Adding support for Android appears to be a priority for many vendors, but many only plan to add WebOS support if the platform proves to be a success. It's also important to ask about support for netbooks, laptops, and even Apple's recently-announced iPad.
2. How much mobile device management control does the platform offer?Mobility management goes well beyond device control, but device control is a key requirement of mobility management. That means that any system under consideration must include remote device lock and wipe for all the platforms it supports as a bare minimum. So, the purpose of the question is to find out how far beyond this the platform's capabilities extend. The ability to maintain a desired level of security while permitting a wide range of employee-liable devices depends to a large extent on the ability to impose security policies on the devices themselves. These may range from password length and complexity requirements, to forcing on-device encryption, to the ability to disable certain device features such as Bluetooth or the built-in camera. It's important to establish how extensive these policy options are, and whether they are identical for all supported mobile platforms. The system will also be required to monitor and control device access to your corporate network, so a vital question to ask is what level of access control it offers. Can it work with existing Network Access Control (NAC) systems, for example, and can it be used by itself to give different users different levels of access?
3. What kind of device support facilities, if any, are included?Support costs are bound to increase as the number of mobile device platforms and models an organization supports goes up. If support is not provided effectively, then employee productivity will drop -- clearly it's hard to get work done in a mobile office if your mobile device isn't working. Mobile management software can make it easier to support multiple mobile platforms in a cost-effective manner in a number of ways. These include enabling help-desk staff to carry out support by accessing devices remotely, providing users with access to self-service knowledge bases, or even automated systems to diagnose and correct common problems. "Obviously buying all these services has a cost, but actually it costs more when you don't have them," said Borg.
TAGS:mobile computing, mobile device management, mobile management, mobile enterprise, mobile management software