Enterprise mobile device management software: The ultimate guide

Enterprise mobile device management software guide

Desktop admins these days have more endpoints to worry about than ever before.

As end users' smartphones and tablets flood the enterprise, endpoint management gets a lot more complicated. Some organizations adopt bring your own device (BYOD) programs to embrace this trend, and others stick with the model of issuing corporate-owned devices to employees.

In either scenario, mobile device management software can help IT control what users can and can't do on their smartphones and tablets -- but not at the same level as traditional desktop management tools. That means admins will also have to work with the business side of the house (the CIO, human resources, and so on) to develop policies that govern user behavior on mobile devices.

The resources in this enterprise mobile device management (MDM) guide explain how to develop these policies and strategies. You'll also learn about MDM technology and other software for tablet and smartphone management, plus get a glimpse into the future of enterprise mobility.

Table of contents:

Enterprise mobile device management strategy

The brave new world of enterprise mobile device management
Before you try to tackle enterprise mobility, take a step back and understand everything that's going on in the market. PCs and laptops are still important, but the influx of iPhones, iPads and Android devices -- plus Microsoft's consumer-focused Windows 8 operating system -- means IT will have to take a new approach to enterprise device management.

How admins can learn to stop worrying and love BYOD
Once you take a look at the market as a whole, you'll realize pretty quickly that Apple's iOS and Google's Android rule the roost. This MDM FAQ explains the different mobile device management software options available for each platform. You'll also learn about the most important features to look for when choosing tools for tablet and smartphone management.

MDM and BYOD don't always mix
Before implementing MDM in a BYOD scenario, consider the implications for your end users. They may not take too kindly to your attempts to control the devices they purchased with their hard-earned money. In addition, mobile device management software can lock down some of the features that made users want their smartphones and tablets in the first place, defeating the whole point of BYOD.

Creating a mobile security policy
Security should be at the center of any enterprise mobile device management strategy, and it starts with a strong mobile device security policy. Policies should clearly explain what users can and can't do on certain devices and what the repercussions will be for any violations. It's also a good idea to lay out what IT can do to enforce the policy, such as remotely wiping the data off a device if it's lost or stolen.

Enterprise mobile device management software

Mobile device management software buying guide
So many factors go into choosing mobile device management software that we couldn't cover them all in one article. This three-part series covers why MDM is important, essential features and potential gotchas. You'll also learn how to plan an MDM rollout to ensure maximum success.

Enterprise mobile device management with Exchange ActiveSync
Most IT admins have their first MDM experience with Exchange ActiveSync. Nearly all current mobile devices are compatible with Microsoft's protocol, which allows smartphones and tablets to tie into corporate email systems. Other Exchange ActiveSync mobile management features include remote wipe and passcode enforcement.

Microsoft goes mobile with Windows Intune for Android, iOS
In a previous life, Windows Intune was Microsoft's cloud-based desktop management tool for small and medium-sized businesses. But with the rise of smartphones and tablets, Microsoft transformed Intune into mobile device management software that works with iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Cisco combines network and mobile device management software
MDM is one way to control and secure smartphones and tablets, but sometimes IT needs to do more, like control access to the corporate network. Network management tools are nothing new, but some, such as Cisco Systems' Identity Services Engine, have incorporated MDM to let IT do more from a single interface.

MDM market consolidation on the rise
So many vendors offer tablet and smartphone management products, from large companies such as Microsoft and Quest Software to smaller companies you've probably never heard of. As startups develop more innovative mobile device management software, larger vendors looking for a stake in the MDM market are more likely to acquire them.

Beyond enterprise mobile device management

Mobile application management 101
Instead of focusing solely on your mobile device management strategy, you may want to look at enterprise mobility as a whole. Smartphones and tablets affect other traditional desktop admin tasks, such as application deployment, and MDM can't address all those needs. Consider mobile application management, which lets IT control access to corporate apps from personal devices.

Mobile device management vs. mobile data management
MDM has two meanings in the mobile world. We've already covered mobile device management software, but mobile data management may turn out to be equally important. Mobile data management provides IT with a less restrictive method for locking down sensitive corporate information. Users can do pretty much whatever they want with their own data on their own devices, but when it comes to corporate data, IT is in the driver's seat.