10 Tips For Better Mobile Device Management

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is now a permanent part of the landscape, so IT pros need to ensure those diverse devices are controlled using mobile device management (MDM). Here are 10 tips to consider as you look towards MDM.

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These ideas come from a presentation given by Gartner analyst Song Chuang at the recent Gartner Symposium event in Queensland. Chuang said that half the total calls he takes as an analyst relate to MDM, so it's clearly a major issue of concern for IT managers right now.

1. You will have to deal with BYOD . . . "BYOD is not going away," Chuang said. "Sometimes we think it might be a pendulum, and the pend swings both ways, but there's no going back from this one. We're on a journey from an enterprise lockdown world to a future world that's open and collaborative."

2. . . . but that doesn't mean you have to rush. While you do need a strategy, it's OK to take time devising one. "Different verticals are on different points in this journey, and there's no shame in being more conservative."

3. You can't take a single-device approach. It's essentially impossible to adopt a BYOD strategy that doesn't acknowledge the two main mobile platforms (iOS and Android), and once you factor in laptops, Windows and Mac also enter the equation. "We expect everyone to have to support many different mobile platforms. Diversity in the enterprise is here to stay."

4. Market share isn't always relevant. "Android is the market leader from a volume perspective, but within the enterprise Apple leads," Chuang said. "Many companies started with the low hanging fruit by managing iOS, and they are going to get to the other platforms later."

That said, you can't ignore Android forever. "By 2016, over 40 per cent of enterprise-supported mobile devices will be Android."

5. Not all Android devices are created equal. Supporting Android generally doesn't mean just the vanilla platform; it also means integrating with manufacturer extensions. "We believe Android will be accepted by the enterprise, not because of what Google has done but because of what the device manufacturers have done," Chuang said. "Vanilla Android has very few enhancements for enterprise management."

Taking advantage of extensions such as Samsung Safe can be useful, but you need to make sure they're handled correctly. "One of the key things when you're looking at managing Android is to make sure your MDM has good support for vendor-specific extensions."

6. A global strategy won't work. If you're part of a multinational company, you need to take a different approach depending on the market. "APAC is doing pretty well in general with BYOD," Chuang said. "Europe is lagging a little, and so is Japan. The whole notion of BYOD is in the very early stages there."

7. Don't expect your users to upgrade their own devices. "These things do not belong to the company," Chuang said. "If a new device comes out, you have trouble getting them to upgrade at their own expense." As a result, you need security standards that aren't entirely reliant on users being up-to-date, and provide protection at network level.

8. Think about a managed diversity framework . "What we suggest is to think about the mobile platforms in two buckets. Think about a preferred mobile platform tier and a tolerated mobile platform tier.," Chuang said. Preferred platform devices receive additional support. This makes your workload manageable, but doesn't eliminate choice.

9. Don't try and block every cloud storage app. Apps such as Dropbox and Box represent a potential source of leakage, but it's impractical to manage everything. "Most of our clients are not banning apps," Chuang said. "The advice we are giving is that there is a risk of data leakage in this space, but there are so many personal cloud apps you cannot possibly check all of them. Identify the most popular ones that will have the most impact and consider providing an enterprise alternative. Then block the services you want to block."

10. Don't give in to panic or pressure "Many companies feel BYOD is dangerous. BYOD can be managed, You have a very powerful lever as IT when you say particular platforms and devices are not allowed," Chuang said. It's quite acceptable to say that email, calendar and contacts are supported, but everything else is the user's problem.

The bottom line? "Look at MDM. It's not optional. It's a basic piece of tech for managing endpoints that everybody needs."


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