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MDM - capabilities that really matter

Mobile device management software should empower companies' mobile ambitions, not make working harder, says Richard Broeke, national sales manager at Securicom.

There is a broad awakening among South African companies that mobile device management (MDM) software for managing mobile phones, tablets, laptops and other portable devices has become a necessity for protecting corporate data.

Richard Broeke, from specialist IT security vendor Securicom, has some advice on what's hot and what's not when it comes to MDM capabilities for companies on the prowl for a solution.

"With the phenomenal trend towards bring your own device (BYOD), perhaps one of the least hot features of an MDM solution is lack of capability to support a range of operating systems. A lot of MDM solutions can support a subset of available operating systems. But, there are those that don't. Companies must be careful not to choose a technology that cannot support the range of operating systems most at play across the enterprise.

"An MDM technology that can support all the major mobile platforms, Android, iOS (Apple), Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and Symbian are obviously a better choice," he says.

Although a given, security features are another aspect that must be scrutinised. The solution should provide the basics, like password protection; remote wipe-clean and lock functionality; device encryption; anti-malware; and jailbreak detection. Over and above that, the solution should support VPN configuration and management; offer data loss prevention; access control to company networks and printers; and tools for monitoring, managing and reporting on the mobile device environment.

"You need a robust and feature-rich management interface to track devices, commission security updates and so forth. The dashboard should also provide real-time information for reporting, device-level analytics, as well as alerts. If you can't scan the health of the entire mobile ecosystem from one place, it's not hot," says Broeke.

Next on the list of desirable features is application scanning and control. MDM software that doesn't provide these capabilities, according to Broke, is just not hot.

"Employees are increasingly demanding and using more apps for business, to make doing their work using their devices easier. Oftentimes, employees download preferred apps and use them for work. The trouble is that corporate information, sometimes confidential or sensitive, is stored, accessed and processed in these apps.

"Companies need to have the ability to check what apps employees are using, block malicious applications, and ensure that internal and third-party apps meet their corporate security requirements. Without application control capabilities, there is no effective way for companies to manage what apps employees are using or for what, particularly in a BYOD scenario," warns Broeke.

Last, but not least, MDM software should empower companies' mobile ambitions, not make working harder.

"If the solution can't support a BYOD scenario – but that's the way you work – or it doesn't integrate with existing enterprise applications – like your e-mail system – then it's a no-go.

"Ideally, you also want an MDM solution that is available from the cloud if your business, like most of the world, is moving away from the on-premises approach," concludes Broeke.

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