In a post-pandemic world where remote working has become further embedded into most professional contexts, MDM will become even more important in securing corporate networks while still facilitating efficient and productive work.
Employees are increasingly using mobile devices, —whether corporate or personally owned, —to work from home, as well as access and engage with sensitive corporate data.
In order to streamline and simplify the management of all these devices, MSPs will need to understand the capabilities of MDM software. In this article, we take a look at MDM, why it’s important, and how MSPs can harness its power.
What is MDM?
MDM stands for ‘Mobile Device Management’. It refers to the management, monitoring, and securing of corporate or personal mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, and Internet of Things devices) that are used to access, use and engage with sensitive corporate data.
Mobile devices are meant to be convenient and highly portable. In a working context, this means that employees can work from anywhere. However, this can open corporations up to data breaches, incidents of unauthorized data access, and heightened security risks. Especially because mobile devices are more susceptible to being stolen, hacked, or lost.
MDM enhances corporate data security because it allows MSPs to control and distribute standardized security policies to devices that are party to sensitive corporate data.
What is BYOD?
BYOD (‘Bring Your Own Device’) is where employees use their own personal devices for work purposes. This is becoming far more commonplace, especially within younger workforces. Though ‘BYOD’ represents a cost-saver, it’s also an additional security vulnerability. MDM means that employees can still access their corporation’s internal networks using their own device
What does MDM do?
Broadly speaking, MDM refers to procurement, deployment, management, and supports of all mobile devices within a specific corporation. MDM covers a number of functions, such as:
- Device enrollment
- Overall mobile device security
- Data segregation for different users
- Email security on mobile devices
- Document security on mobile devices
- Application security
- Browser security
- Set standardized usage rules for enhanced security.
- The standard configuration of corporate devices
- Standard app catalog
- Equipment, policy, and application updates
- Configuring VPN & Wifi settings
- Monitoring user activity
- Monitoring and tracking equipment performance
- Troubleshooting and diagnostics
- Storing information about mobile devices (device inventory)
- Securing devices that have been lost or stolen
- Identity and access management
Why is MDM important?
MDM is a centralized means of optimizing the functionality of various mobile devices employed across a business, whilst also ensuring maximum security. It is designed to completely simplify the management of mobile devices across an organization.
Through MDM, MSPs are able to minimize corporate cyber-security risks because they are able to monitor, control, and protect the data of all mobile devices in a network. Critically, MDM empowers employers with the ability to govern the use of devices that are party to sensitive data.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of MDM is just how easy and efficient it is.
Here are some other reasons why MDM is important for MSPs:
- Save time by automating repetitive tasks
- Customize corporate policies to streamline your workflow
- Implement blanket policies to maximize efficiency
- Quickly ensure that all your managed devices are compliant with key legislation
- No need for end-user involvement in the management of their device
- Manage various types of devices from a centralized software
How does MDM work?
MDM is usually carried out using third-party software that is tailored to specific devices. It usually consists of a combination of applications installed on the device, configurations, corporate policies, certificates, as well as backend infrastructure.
Employees will either have a corporate device or a personal device that is enrolled. In cases where the device is personally owned, MSPs will grant role-based access to corporate data and email.
MDM works via correspondence between a server component and a client component. First, MSPs configure and send out management commands from the server component. This command is then received and actioned by the client component that runs on the end-user device.
MDM software can remotely push configurations, applications, and other security policies. MDM can either be on-location or cloud-based, although is increasingly shifting to the latter.
What does MDM software do?
In a modern context, where most corporations employ a large number of managed devices, MDM solutions are designed to facilitate efficient, consistent, and scalable management.
Importantly, MDM software should ensure that regardless of the device, end-users should be able to get going easily and quickly. For example, MDM software will automatically detect new devices in the network and configure them for immediate usage.
What to look for in MDM software
As an MSP, here are some of the factors you should take into consideration when selecting MDM software:
On-premises or cloud-based MDM
As we mentioned, MDM can be on-premises or cloud-based. Though your client may have a specific preference, be aware of the different security considerations relating to both types.
Supported devices and features
Be aware that certain software is only configured to support select types of devices, features, or management styles. You’ll need to identify what kind of controls you need, as well as the type of policies you need to enforce, and then cross-check against the capabilities of potential MDM software.
How devices are enrolled
This is an important factor if your client allows BYOD, and therefore has a large number of personally owned devices that need to be managed and monitored.
You should also consider the type of enrolment, whether that’s zero-touch, admin, or self-enrolment.
Certain MDM software allows for real-time monitoring and tracking of devices, as well as checking device compliance. You should consider how the MDM’s offerings might integrate into your existing processes.
MDM and the future of work
Flexible and remote working are most certainly here to stay. Even as employees move to a hybrid working structure, the convenience, portability, and accessibility of mobile devices means that their use for professional purposes will persist. With this in mind, MSPs should gear up for enhanced MDM protocols that are efficient, effective, and straightforward. Most importantly, to truly adapt to the new working world, they need to be equipped to manage and monitor a large number of remote mobile devices at any one time.