What is mobile device management (MDM)?

A comprehensive MDM solution that manages and secures devices, apps, and data from a unified console

Mobile device management helps you manage and secure your organization's fleet of mobile devices over the air without compromising the end-user experience. Contemporary MDM solutions also control apps, content, and security so employees can work on managed devices without worries. These solutions effectively manage the corporate space on personal devices. Another critical part of MDM is a comprehensive kiosk configuration capability that enterprises leverage to secure corporate data on dedicated or single-purpose devices while providing the right level of access to resources. Lastly, MDM tools should provide cross-platform support for BYODs and corporate devices throughout their life cycles.

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Mobile Devices Management for

What is MDM?

What is Mobile Device Management(MDM)?

MDM is the process of enhancing corporate data security by monitoring, managing and securing the mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets that are used in enterprises. MDM stands for Mobile Device Management and modern mobile device management tools facilitate IT admins to ensure that the mobile devices used for work are provisioned with the needed configurations, permissions, and resources.

Mobile device management solutions allow IT teams and admins to control and distribute security policies to the mobile devices accessing sensitive corporate data in their organizations, ensuring the corporate network is secureWith more and more employees using one or all of these devices, organizations across all shapes and sizes are now turning to mobile device management for enhanced data and network security and improved employee productivity. MDM solutions enable IT admins to configure enterprise-grade security policies on mobile devices, making them corporate ready.

What we'll cover in the MDM software guide:

Mobile Device Management - Overview

Mobile Device Management (MDM) enables IT admins to securely monitor and manage the mobile devices that access sensitive business data. It includes storing essential information about mobile devices, deciding which apps can be present on the devices, locating devices, and securing devices if lost or stolen. With the increased adoption of mobile devices, mobile device management (MDM) solutions have now evolved into Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions.

Mobile devices now have more capabilities than ever before, which has ultimately led to many enterprises adopting a mobile-only or mobile-first workforce. In these types of environments, both personal and corporate-owned mobile devices are the primary devices used for accessing or interacting with corporate data. To simplify the management of mobile devices, many businesses use a third-party mobile device management (MDM) software such as Mobile Device Manager Plus to manage mobile devices.

With a number of enterprises moving to a cloud-based infrastructure, the ease of use mobile devices offer has contributed to mobile devices replacing conventional desktops, as shown below in Figure 1:

The importance of MDM solutions and software

Mobile Device Management (MDM) Software/Solution

MDM software or MDM solution is a type of management or security technology that enables IT admins to monitor, manage and secure corporate or personally-owned mobile devices that run across multiple operating systems. It is also referred to as mobile device management software or MDM server or MDM client.

Mobile devices are portable in nature and ensure work can be done from anywhere. While the portability of mobile devices can offer many advantages, mobile devices also come with their own set of problems, such as unauthorized data access and data leakage. If you want to leverage portability to improve productivity without compromising security, you need a proper mobile device management system or MDM software set up to simplify the challenge of managing mobile devices.

The right Mobile Device Management (MDM) application or solution can make a world of difference for system administrators trying to manage mobile devices. An MDM solution or an MDM server provides a unified console to manage the different device types used in an organization. They let you manage the apps being installed or removed on mobile devices, monitor the devices in the MDM server, configure basic settings on devices, and set up devices that will be used for specific purposes, like point of sale (POS). These solutions are also available with multiple MDM deployment options to meet the requirements of every organization.

Why are Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions important?

The main purpose of enterprise MDM or mobile device management is to allow enterprises to focus on improving productivity of their employees by allowing them to access corporate data on the go using corporate or personally-owned mobile devices. MDM solutions can help achieve this in a seamless and simplified manner. Here are a few ways through which mobile device management software make overall device management easier for the admin:

How does Mobile Device Management (MDM) software work?

Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions use a client-server architecture, with the devices acting as clients while MDM server remotely pushes configurations, apps, and policies managing the devices over-the-air (OTA). Generally, there is a MDM server or platform that allows the IT admin to monitor mobile devices. IT admins can remotely manage mobile endpoints such as laptops, tablets, and mobile phones via the MDM server. It leverages the notification services available to contact the managed devices for mobile device management. For more information about how exactly mobile device management services work and what an MDM server is, refer here.  

Advantages of using an MDM solution

Organizations adopting mobility, prefer deploying MDM solutions since they simplify mobile device management and provide the following benefits:

MDM solutions industry use cases

Let's take a closer look at how mobile device management tools and software can be utilized across industries.

  • Healthcare

    With most healthcare organizations moving towards electronic health records (EHRs), mobile device use is more popular than ever in the healthcare sector. But ensuring the personal health information (PHI) stored on mobile devices is secure and complying with regulatory standards like HIPAA can be a challenge. An MDM solution can help you meet compliance standards while also ensuring that PHI remains secure from unauthorized access.

  • Transportation

    Now that many enterprises are embracing mobility, one market that can benefit greatly from the advantages of MDM is the transportation industry. An MDM solution lets businesses track shipments and vehicle locations as well as maintain a history of locations traversed. It also lets you lock down corporate devices to specific apps and/or settings to prevent device misuse and ensure maximum productivity.

  • Education

    The transition to the digital age has affected no industry more than the education sector. With more and more schools adopting tablet-based teaching methods, it's essential to manage these devices to ensure they're only used for learning. Granular restrictions let you disable basic device functionalities such as the camera, as well as restrict access to certain websites.

  • Retail

    Thanks to features like digital signage, mPOS, and self-service checkouts, mobile devices have found their niche in the retail sector. Some enterprises in the retail industry use mobile devices built for a specific need, while others use a combination of in-house apps and certain policies on more standard devices like phones and tablets. Both specialized devices such as rugged devices and standard mobile devices such as smartphones can be managed using an MDM solution.

  • Service

    With most organizations in the service industry leaning towards a mobile-only or mobile-first workforce, mobile devices—especially employee-owned devices—are being used more than ever. An MDM solution helps you seamlessly manage personal devices (BYOD management) and in-house apps while also ensuring those devices adhere to your enterprise's security standards.

The MDM solution that can help

ManageEngine's Mobile Device Manager Plus is the perfect enterprise mobile device management tool for SMBs and large enterprises. Let's look at some of the features Mobile Device Manager Plus has to offer to simplify MDM device management:

  • Quicker onboarding

    Mobile Device Manager Plus supports multiple methods for enrollment, irrespective of whether the device is with the user or still sitting in one of your business' storerooms. With Mobile Device Manager Plus, you can quickly and easily onboard devices in bulk with no user action required. Learn more about Mobile Device Manager Plus' enrollment methods. It also helps with BYOD mobile device management i.e. mobile device management for personal devices, whereby you get to manage the workspace while having zero control over the personal space ensuring corporate data security without compromising on user privacy.

  • Efficient app management

    Silently install both purchased and in-house apps, and predefine app permissions and settings OTA to ensure they’re ready for use immediately after installation. In addition to silent installation, you can also delete or update apps remotely without requiring any user intervention. Further, Mobile Device Manager Plus also helps you maintain licenses of paid apps. Learn more about app management.

  • Seamless policy management

    Ensure devices are ready for use the moment they're handed over to employees by remotely preconfiguring basic settings for Wi-Fi, email, etc. Any configuration updates can also be made OTA. With Mobile Device Manager Plus, you can easily manage your BYOD environment by controlling all corporate aspects of a device while leaving personal data alone for a good balance between security and privacy. Learn more about policy management.

  • Robust security management

    Mobile Device Manager Plus provides you with a host of options for mobile security—both proactive and reactive. In addition to granular restrictions, you can ensure only devices managed by Mobile Device Manager Plus can access corporate Exchange servers. By sandboxing your corporate documents, you can ensure that mobile devices attempting to access corporate data can only do so using the MDM agent app (ManageEngine MDM) present on the device, thereby preventing unauthorized access.

    You can also create a geofence policy to ensure corporate devices do not leave the premises. Should a device get stolen or go missing, you can secure it using Lost Mode as well as execute security commands to lock or wipe the device.

  • Comprehensive post-deployment management

    In addition to simple device deployment, Mobile Device Manager Plus provides multiple settings for maintaining deployed devices, including periodic device scanning to update your device inventory; remote troubleshooting; and scheduling/automating OS updates to ensure the most secure OS version is running on each device.

Automate endpoint management throughout the device life cycle

Onboard

Enroll personal and corporate devices in bulk with flexible options.

Provision

Set up devices with required apps and content based on groups or departments.

Secure

Defend against data theft with preventative and context-based security policies.

Maintain

Remotely troubleshoot devices, get critical alerts, and maintain device inventory with insights and reports.

Deprovision

Remove, reassign, or retire devices that are not in use, out of the organization, in repair, or noncompliant.

Manage any device running on any OS

  • Get zero-touch enrollment Have Android devices shipped directly to users while ensuring that they are provisioned with all the business-essential policies, apps, and data.
  • Leverage Google Play Customize the Google Play layout and silently install apps over the air. Periodically let Google Play Protect check apps for malware and set a policy to automatically update all store apps.
  • Troubleshoot with advanced remote control Take remote control of devices with a single click in order to troubleshoot.
  • Implement kiosk mode Lock down devices to a single app or an approved set of apps while customizing the home screen and device functions.
  • Manage rugged and IoT devices Integrate with various original equipment manufacturers, like Samsung, LG, Zebra, and Honeywell, to manage purpose-built devices.
  • Maximize security Block apps, URLs, and device functions to safeguard corporate data. Containerize corporate data on BYODs to keep it safe.
  • Automate large-scale deployment Ensure devices get provisioned automatically post-enrollment through Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager.
  • Manage apps extensively Distribute store and custom-built apps without user intervention. Manage app purchases and licenses in bulk across locations with Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager.
  • Share devices Cut down on IT costs by providing shared iPads to frontline workers and students who have staggered schedules.
  • Automate kiosk mode Restrict devices to certain apps based on conditions like time and session expiration.
  • Filter network traffic Allowlist or blocklist websites, force network traffic through proxy servers, and disable iCloud Private Relay.
  • Prevent data leaks Enable restrictions on device functions, clipboard, screenshots, and built-in share options to keep sensitive data secure.
  • Onboard devices with ease Enroll TVs and provision them with Wi-Fi configurations and the necessary apps without admin intervention.
  • Convert Apple TVs into digital signage Run approved apps on Apple TVs to display business content.
  • Filter displayed content Restrict media playback from particular regions or based on maturity ratings.
  • Gate AirPlay Prevent unauthorized users from displaying content on Apple TVs.
  • Deploy via Apple Business Manager Enroll devices in bulk by leveraging Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager.
  • Manage FileVault encryption Enforce encryption and manage the recovery keys to prevent data loss.
  • Prevent data leaks Restrict the camera, screenshots, recording, clipboard sharing, and iCloud functions to prevent data leaks.
  • Manage privacy preferences and system extensions Choose which system extensions and resources apps can access for better privacy and security.
  • Enroll devices in bulk Simultaneously onboard and provision thousands of devices using Windows Autopilot.
  • Manage diverse devices Be it phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, HoloLens, or Surface Hubs, our versatile solution manages them all.
  • Enhance device security Leverage policies for Wi-Fi, VPN, proxy, clipboard, and app block on vault-like devices.
  • Easily migrate GPOs Use our built-in tool to migrate from legacy management techniques to a more advanced and evolving set of policies.
  • Comprehensively lock down devices Control how users engage with devices by placing restrictions on apps and functions.
  • Configure app lockdown Enable kiosk mode on Chrome devices in single- or multi-app mode to ensure only the right level of device access is provided.
  • Manage guest sessions Take control of an entire guest session, including session duration, browser settings, and websites to which guests have access.
  • Control OS versions Schedule OS updates for immediate or future deployment while also stopping OS versions from updating beyond the specified number.
  • Enable Chrome Verified Access Enable cryptographic verified access to ensure only authorized devices and users have access to corporate networks and resources.

Dedicated management policies for BYODs, rugged devices, and IoT devices

BYODs

  • Manage everything work-related without intruding on user privacy.
  • Encrypt work data and separate it from personal data.
  • Secure business apps, even on unmanaged devices.

Rugged devices

  • Use OEMConfig to apply custom policies provided by the vendors.
  • Leverage firmware over the air to update the OSs of rugged devices.
  • Remotely control field devices to troubleshoot them instantly.

IoT devices

  • Manage and secure a range of devices, including wearables and TVs.
  • Apply custom configurations provided by the vendors and OSs.
  • Restrict playback on devices based on regions and maturity ratings.

Manage devices and everything on them from a unified console

Apps

  • Seamless app distribution: Purchase apps in bulk, silently install them, and create a self-service portal.
  • Get apps ready for use: Preconfigure logins, settings, and permissions for users to ensure hassle-free app onboarding.
  • Block malicious apps: Prevent the spread of malware by blocking apps, enforcing Google Play Protect, and restricting app sideloading.
  • Multi-version app support: Distribute different versions of custom-built apps to different departments and groups with ease.

Content

  • Set data loss prevention policies: Set restrictions on sharing, clipboard, and screenshots to prevent the leaking of sensitive content.
  • Secure distribution and viewing: Distribute content in bulk to a sandboxed viewer that supports over 10 formats for documents, images, and videos.
  • Revoke access based on context: Prevent a user from viewing business data based on their location or device integrity status.
  • Encryption and backup policies: Enforce data encryption and prevent backups to third-party cloud services.

Security

  • Device and app security: Set blocklist policies for passcodes, OS updates, apps, and URLs to ensure maximum protection for devices.
  • Remote actions for lost and stolen devices: Lock, raise the alarm on, locate, and wipe devices when misplaced or stolen.
  • Threat protection: Reduce the attack surface by allowing the installation of only approved apps, scan them for malware with Google Play Protect, and approve Wi-Fi networks to which devices can connect.
  • Geofencing policy: Let a user access data based on their device's presence or absence within a virtual geographic fence.

Kiosk mode

  • Single- and multi-app lockdown: Lock down a device to a single app or a set of designated apps to ensure the right amount of access.
  • Customizable device functions: Choose which device functions and buttons are accessible to users.
  • Automated device lockdown: Use autonomous single-app kiosk mode to lock down apps based on predefined conditions, like time, session expiration, and location.
  • Customizable home screens: Set wallpapers to align with branding needs, arrange icons, adjust their sizes, and organize them in folders.

Remote troubleshooting

  • Remotely control devices: Remotely control the devices of over 25 original equipment manufacturers with the help of our remote control tool.
  • Unattended access: Ensure that even devices in isolated environments, like IoT devices, can be remotely checked with unattended access.
  • No extra setup or cost: Remote control is a one-click action included in our plan at no additional cost.
  • Send remote commands via chat: Use security commands during a troubleshooting session to pause and resume kiosk mode or restart and lock devices.

Location tracking

  • Track any device at any time: Know the whereabouts of your IT assets across Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows devices.
  • Comprehensive location reports: View and extract reports of locations that devices have traversed over a given period.
  • Geofencing policies: Set up alerts, quarantine, and perform remedial actions when devices enter or exit designated geographic fences.
  • Ensure privacy for BYOD users: Give BYOD users privacy while upholding data security with the option to track devices only when lost.

OS update management

  • Enforce, defer, and deny updates: Enforce system updates once released, delay them for a particular period, or deny them altogether.
  • Allow users to skip updates: Give users the option to skip updates so as not to hinder ongoing tasks.
  • Schedule updates: Deploy updates in scheduled batches to eliminate bandwidth-choking.
  • Update nontraditional devices: Deliver custom firmware over the air to IoT and rugged devices with the option to schedule the deployment.

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We have been using Mobile Device Manager Plus for over a year now, and it has assisted us in staying compliant with our organization's security and compliance policies. We are able to safeguard our customer data, track our devices, and implement policies over the air.

Syed Ahmad Rasool Sr. manager of technology security, Vodafone

Mobile Device Manager Plus is a powerful safeguard against the threat of corporate content coming into the wrong hands. This robust solution enables us to centralize all mobile devices on the same console as a web-portal which is segmented by countries. The access for local IT teams in each country is restricted to the mobile devices in their respective country, ensuring better security.

Abdoul Karim Barry Systems engineer, Microcred Group

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MDM 101: The basics of What is MDM, explained

  • 1. What is mobile device management (MDM)?

    Mobile device management (MDM) is a method of monitoring and exercising control over the mobile devices used by your workforce. MDM allows you to enroll, configure, manage, and secure enterprise- and employee-owned smartphones, laptops, tablets, rugged devices, and IoT devices across Apple OSs, Android, Windows, and Chrome OS.

  • 2. Why do you need mobile device management (MDM)?

    Limiting corporate network access to on-premises devices might guarantee data security, but remote work and the use of mobile devices have now become standard practice. Restricting remote access to corporate resources could lead to mobile and distributed workforces becoming unproductive or, worse, resorting to shadow IT. However, granting open access to business-essential data invites a variety of security threats. This is where mobile device management helps you. MDM allows you to provide your workforce's mobile devices with secure remote access to sensitive corporate data by bringing these devices under your management.

  • 3. What are the benefits of mobile device management (MDM)?

    Through enterprise mobile device management, you can remotely monitor and manage both enterprise- and employee-owned mobile devices from a single MDM console. This means you will be able to enforce your organization's security restrictions and policies across devices over the air and in real time, keeping them compliant with security standards. You can also distribute and update the necessary apps, content, and permissions, thereby keeping your workforce productive.

  • 4. What is a mobile device management (MDM) solution?

    A mobile device management solution is a tool or software that allows you to implement comprehensive mobile device management within your organization. Mobile Device Manager Plus is a powerful MDM solution that lets you remotely monitor and secure the mobile devices in your organization, across Apple OSs, Android, Windows, and Chrome OS, from a unified console.

  • 5. What are the must-have features of mobile device management (MDM) software?

    A good MDM tool should let you:

    • Comprehensively manage all the mobile devices in your organization from a central server.
    • Enroll both corporate and personal mobile devices over the air and in bulk with a range of enrollment options.
    • Quickly enforce security restrictions and policies on devices by applying configuration profiles.
    • Distribute required apps and content to devices and facilitate secure access to them.
    • Easily manage your overall device inventory with automated report generation and options to gather granular details about any individual managed device.
  • 6. How do mobile device management (MDM) solutions work?

    MDM tools typically have two key components: an MDM server and an MDM agent. The MDM server facilitates central remote management of devices, and any command that an IT admin wishes to execute on devices is done through the MDM server. The MDM agent is an app installed on managed devices to facilitate management.

  • 7. What are the advantages of using a mobile device management (MDM) solution?

    Using an MDM solution vastly simplifies the entire process of device management and saves you time. You will not need to physically handle devices to control, configure, troubleshoot, reassign, or retire them. An MDM solution grants you a bird's-eye view of all the devices accessing corporate data, allowing you to take proactive and reactive security measures to keep data secure at all times. Modern MDM solutions can even be configured to automatically identify noncompliant devices and block them from accessing the corporate network. These are just a few of the many benefits that the right MDM solution can grant you.

  • 8. Why do you need mobile device management (MDM) in BYOD environments?

    In BYOD environments, where employees use their personal devices for work, it can be tricky to ensure the security of corporate data without breaching the users' privacy. Using MDM, these personal devices are easily brought under corporate management through sending invites, scanning a QR code, or user self-enrollment.

    A virtual container is created on the devices to store the distributed corporate data. This container will serve as a corporate workspace that is separate from the user's personal data and exclusively managed by the IT admin. Users may rest assured that their personal files remain private. When an employee leaves the organization, the container can be exclusively wiped, leaving any personal files untouched.

  • 9. Why do you need mobile device management (MDM) in choose your own device (CYOD) and corporate-owned personally enabled (COPE) device environments?

    In organizations that purchase devices to distribute to workforces for both personal and corporate use, MDM helps make device purchase, provisioning, and management a seamless process. By integrating an MDM tool with portals like Apple Business Manager, IT admins can enroll and provision devices without even coming into contact with them, making them corporate-ready out of the box. Additionally, since these devices are owned by the organization, IT admins will also be able to exercise a greater amount of control over them compared to employee-owned devices.

  • 10. Why do you need mobile device management (MDM) in corporate-owned business only (COBO) device environments?

    When enterprise-owned devices are meant to be used only for business, it is crucial to ensure workforces do not use them for unintended purposes. This includes anything from personal use to device misuse that could potentially result in the leaking of sensitive corporate data. MDM enables you to exercise control over the entire device and apply the necessary policies and restrictions to keep it secure and compliant.

    Downloads of unapproved apps and access to malicious web content can be blocked to maintain productivity. You can also lock devices to run only a single app or a specific set of apps, block access to unnecessary device functions, and even track locations to prevent misuse.

  • 11. How does MDM help in educational institutions?

    With technology-enhanced learning programs surging in popularity, smart devices have become commonplace within learning environments. In educational institutions, different students use the same device at different times. MDM lets you configure devices like iPads as shared devices, creating a separate workspace for each student using it and enhancing their learning experience. Additionally, the necessary learning materials can be shared with managed devices over the air when required. Devices can also be locked to run only the examination app for the duration of a test, after which the devices will automatically exit the app.