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7-Point Checklist for Selecting an MDM Partner

Looking back over the past 11 years when I began my career in Mobility and how it’s evolved, I am amazed at how quickly technology has surpassed my expectations.

In my first job supporting mobility, we had a few hundred Palm Treo devices – yes, I did say Palm – using Good Technology for Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution. At that time, we did not even fully understand what an MDM entailed!

With all the different devices and MDM companies in today’s marketplace, it’s hard to choose which way to go. The reality is that every company is different and there may be several options that are a good fit. In the end, it depends on how much you are willing to pay, what services are needed, what is the security model, and what is the user model.

Mobile First is a term that we hear a lot, but it simply means that when we develop applications, purchase software, or add infrastructure, we need to consider mobile users will access these systems.

  1. Devices – Chose the right device for your company. Examine security risks and how easy/hard the device is to support. If it is easy to use, your employees will be happy.
  2. Users – These are the folks that will use the devices you give them. They could be executives, salesforce, IT, buildings and grounds. Find out how they will be using the devices and services.
  3. Management – Choosing the right MDM for your company may be the most challenging as all have their strengths and weaknesses. Create an RFP and bring in the top three or four providers to collaboratively evaluate with your team and users. Create a checklist of features and have the appropriate teams rate each of them.
  4. Business – The business means every department in your company that is not IT. Get these groups involved up front as they may have applications that need to be distributed or other devices, such as, barcode scanners that may need to be managed.
  5. Applications – If you already have smartphone and tablets, then you have applications. Email is an application. VPN could be another. The short of it is that you need a distribution point for mobile apps. These could be App Store apps like iTunes or Google Play, or these could be in-house applications that need to be distributed. The latter is more involved as there may be code signing and security requirements. An app is only as good as its security.
  6. Support – This is probably the easiest of the bunch. Who will support the device, connectivity, applications, and the MDM server? There is no wrong answer, but if you do not get it right, you will hear about it from the employees.
  7. Security – This is probably the most important and one that ties it all together. Security or lack thereof can break a company. The important take away is to protect the data. The device, MDM, applications, and users must all work together to prevent data leakage. From a device standpoint, is anti-virus or anti-malware required? Can the MDM provide policies to enforce security? Are the applications secure to prevent data leakage? Do users know not to send confidential data in an email or as an attachment?

The key is to create policies to make it hard for someone to break into the device, prevent documents from being copied or saved to a different location, and encrypt the data on the device. You may want to create a separate SSID if you allow mobile to access corporate WIFI because most mobile devices are not domain joinable and are not trusted. Keep them isolated and only provide access to what is needed.


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