No one should be leaving their organization exposed — MDM is not just a nicety, it’s necessary to protect even a small business or organization. In advance of MacTech InDepth: Mobile Device Management seminar coming up on December 7, 2011 in San Francisco, MacTech Magazine has released its MDM primer. This primer gives a top level view of the issues that you should be concerned about. While the seminar covers these issues and more, it also gives you an opportunity to talk face-to-face to vendors and lay out your game plan.


Mobile Device Management (MDM) Primer
Fall, 2011

Your guide to getting started with managing iOS devices

by Russell Poucher, Creative Resources Technology Group

Mobile Device Management (MDM) software secures, monitors, manages and supports mobile devices deployed across mobile operators, service providers and enterprises. MDM functionality typically includes over-the-air distribution of applications, data and configuration settings for all types of mobile devices, including mobile phones, smartphones, tablet computers, ruggedized mobile computers, mobile printers, mobile POS devices, etc. These policies apply to both company-owned and employee-owned devices across the enterprise or mobile devices owned by consumers.

By controlling and protecting the data and configuration settings for all mobile devices in the network, MDM can greatly reduce support costs and business risks. The intent of MDM is to optimize the functionality and security of a mobile communications network while minimizing cost and downtime.

With mobile devices becoming ubiquitous and applications flooding the market, mobile monitoring is growing in importance. Numerous vendors help mobile device manufacturers, content portals and developers, test and monitor the delivery of their mobile content, applications and services. This testing of content is done real time by simulating the action of thousands of customers and detecting and correcting bugs in the applications. (www.wikipedia.com)


Figure 1 – Managed Devices

Implementation

Typically, MDM solutions include a server component, which sends out the management commands and controls to the mobile devices, and a client component (called profiles), which runs on the target device and receives and implements the management commands. In most, true, MDM solutions, the client software does not need to be installed. It is part of the profile that the device is to be enrolled in.

With the proliferation of mobile devices reaching the masses, the management of mobile devices is ever evolving over time to meet the needs of the users, with new software and hardware being distributed, rapidly. No longer is it required to have a hard connection to the device or install a SIM in order to make changes and updates; scalability problems may just become a thing of the past.

Central remote management, using commands sent over the air, is here and now. An administrator needs only access to a web portal, from a desktop, laptop or another mobile device, to update or configure any one device, group or groups of devices. This obviously provides scalability benefits particularly useful when the fleet of managed devices is large in size.

Prime functionality of and MDM server often includes the following features:

  • Firmware and/or base OS over the air updates

  • Remote diagnostics

  • Remote configuration and provisioning

  • Security, including complex passcode requirements

  • Backup/restore functionality, both local and remote

  • Network usage and end-user support

  • Server deployment, management and configurations

  • Mobile asset tracking and management

  • Remote lock and wipe

  • Local device provisioning

  • Software installation, updates and maintenance

  • Data provisioning and feeds

  • Troubleshooting and diagnostic tools

  • Policy application (similar to Group Policy on Active Directory or Managed Clients on Open Directory)

  • Logging and reporting

  • Remote control and administration

  • Location tracking


Figure 2 – Device Configuration