Friday, July 12, 2013

SOP Friday: Mobile Device Management

MDM in the Small Business Space

We've all seen the massive explosion of mobile devices in the workplace. Laptops have been around forever, and cell phones have gotten smarter. Now we have mobile point of sale systems, tablets, and other devices. On top of that, we see more and more BYOD - Bring Your Own Device. That means companies are blurring the line between business-owned and employee-owned devices that are authorized in the workplace, and connected to the network.

In our own company, we've changed quite a bit. We used to buy and distribute cell phones to employees. These were fundamentally company-owned devices, but we fully acknowledged that employees used them for personal use. Some years back we switched this around. Now employees use their own phones and we pay a monthly stipend ($50). That's enough to upgrade any phone to a data and calling plan that more than compensates for their work use of the phone.

But in making that transition, we have explicitly moved to a policy that allows employees to access company resources with employee-owned devices. Add laptops and iPads to the mix and we're doing exactly what our clients are doing.

What exactly is MDM?

MDM - Mobile Device Management - is simply the extension of the RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management) that we already deliver to desktops. It allows us to extend network security and management to all those BYOD devices.

Specifically, MDM involves some or all of the following functions:

- Block devices
- Configure email, calendar, and contacts
- Configure Wi-Fi and VPN profiles
- Distribute and manage applications
- Enforce compliance with HIPAA, SOX, etc.
- Protect the client network and data
- Remote wipe devices

Most of these functions are delivered over-the-air (OTA)

How Do You Deliver MDM?

Mobile Device Management is deployed as part of your RMM offering. If you use Continuum, Level Platforms, LabTech, or almost any other RMM vendor, they have agents for MDM. Some support pretty much any device and some just the most common. The number and variety of mobile devices continues to expand all the time, so it's a difficult area to keep up with.

We have yet to see a huge, publicly visible attack on mobile devices. This gives everyone a sense of security. It's a bit like the arrogance around Apple machines and anti-virus. Some day there will be a virus that causes billions of dollars worth of damage because people simply refuse to believe that their Mac can be affected. Mobile devices are much the same.

But security is not the only selling point. In addition to protecting data, MDM can save your time and money with configuration of new devices. And, as with regular RMM, it can reduce support costs overall.

The easiest sale is simply the fact that laptops and cell phones (tablets, Kindles, iPads) get lost or stolen. Locking out a device and performing a remote wipe can bring the client a great deal of peace of mind.

Bottom Line: Now is a great time to start offering MDM and pushing it to your clients.

Next week we'll talk about BYOD more directly - and I'll provide a sample BYOD/MDM policy that you can use as a "starter" document for building your own.

Comments welcome.

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About this Series

SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.

Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at

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Next week's topic: BYOD - Bring Your Own Destruction


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  1. Shame this has finished those speakers all look inspiring!

  2. The wireless mobility eco system has changed drastically in the last couple of years not only for MDM vendors but also the Operators. Emergence of new breed device makers and OS vendors pose different challenges in different regions which leads to long queue at the contact centres. Operators need to manage a vast library of mobile devices, cope up with rising call centre volumes and sustain the financial burden associated with increasing number of No Fault Found (NFF) devices.

    The DeviceMax advanced device management solution is built on a special platform unlike the OMA DM based MDM solution which provides support through internet only.

    DeviceMax Mobile Device Management is a customizable device, application and security management system. It simplifies mobility across multiple device types and multiple operating systems, all managed through a single console.


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