Best MDM solutions 2019: Take the hassle out of BYOD

We list some of the best enterprise MDM tools available for securing your corporate devices

Mobile device management

Mobile device management (MDM) is an essential tool used by modern businesses to ensure their employees have only have access to the data and apps necessary to do their jobs across their devices. Having become ever more popular with the growth of bring your own device (BYOD), it's never been more important for both the safety and security of your business to have a great MDM product in place.

From a data protection perspective, giving your employees access to data they shouldn't be viewing is a huge GDPR no-no and with a well-configured MDM solution, you can avoid those hefty fines by easily and remotely restricting data access to the individual and retain data protection if a device is lost.

MDM solutions can cover mobile devices such as phones, tablets and laptops as well as desktop PCs which makes them an attractive option in situations where one of these devices becomes infected with malware. Whether it's by clicking a dodgy link or downloading a suspicious email attachment, malware is everywhere and it can seep into anything with a CPU. An MDM solution is ideal in this case as the phone can be easily treated or wiped remotely before the malware can spread further into the organisation.

Whatever you're needs are from an MDM solution, there are many options out there to serve different needs and budgets, we've got them all right here.

Cisco Meraki

Perhaps one of the most well-known MDM platforms, allowing you to manage every type of device in your business from one dashboard. Whether you need to monitor and manage Android, iOS, ChromeOS, Windows 10, Macs, Linux machines or anything else on the network, you can do so. There's also an app for managing devices while not at your computer, monitoring usage and making sure all data is safe and sound.

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When we say manage, we mean manage every aspect too, including enforcing device security policies, deploying software and apps, and performing remote, live troubleshooting if any problems arise, monitoring calls and more on the devices across your network. Every device managed and monitored is regarded as a separate device, even if they're linked, so you can, for example, allow certain apps to run on an employee's Apple tablet, but not on their linked smartphone or vice versa. 

Cisco Meraki enables all of this to happen over the network, so even if you're trying to mange remote employee devices, it's a breeze. You don't have to keep tabs on everything without anyone needing to be on the same network.

Pricing: Available upon request (not publicly published)

IBM MaaS360

Thanks to IBM's acquisition of Fiberlink Communications back in 2015, the firm as able to step into the MDM market and since that time, has been making some big improvements to its MDM product with a low entry point for device deployment, which has been gaining market share.

IBM might not be the cheapest out there - especially since some of the services that you'd find bundled with other providers come at an additional cost - but with IBM's lengthy experience in enterprise security, you know you're getting a good quality solution for your money. 

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Pricing: From $4.00 (2.95) per client device per month

Hexnode MDM

Hexnode MDM lets you provision and manage devices, and prides itself on a user-friendly design. Users can add their own devices by connecting to the network or by using a portal installed on your company's website or intranet. Their device will then be added using their Active Directory credentials.

Once the devices are added, you can manage them whether they're connected to the corporate network or being used remotely. That means you can push configuration settings to the device, restrict functionality, manage mobile applications (including blocking App Store downloads and implementing a black/whitelist), check and enforce compliance and even remotely lock and wipe devices.

Pricing: From $1 (76p)/device/month

Soti MobiControl

Soti allows you to manage Android, iOS and Windows Mobile devices from one place, for the entire lifecycle of the device within the organisation. They can be provisioned when first added to the company's fleet of devices, managed throughout their service and then wiped when it comes to retirement.

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The platform was designed for use with ruggedised devices often used by fieldworkers and the healthcare, logistics, retail, and transport sectors.

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The MDM platform can be installed on-premise or deployed on Soti's cloud. You can add devices to the platform using its Express Enrollment feature, which automatically delivers the settings, apps, and files a user needs over the air to get them up and running.

Pricing: From $4 (3)/user/month

MobileIron EMM

MobileIron's enterprise device management offering is probably one of the best-known tools for keeping on top of employee devices, whether a smartphone, tablet or computer.

All devices can be managed from a single console, whether you want to enforce data and security policies, install or manage applications and services allowed on devices, or wipe/restore them on demand.

The MobileIron Client (Mobile@Work) is part of the company's EMM platform and has been specifically designed to enforce corporate email, Wi-Fi, VPN, and security certificate policies on devices, automatically configuring the device to function exactly how the IT department needs it to. It also features mobile application management (MAM), allowing employees to install applications the enterprise approves of from a storefront.

Content is also governed through Mobile@Work, giving workers access to web resources and content sitting behind the firewall using a secure reader to enable employees to securely read encrypted email attachments, something that's not usually allowed on corporate devices.

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Pricing: Available on request

Citrix XenMobile

Citrix XenMobile is an MDM tool that allows the containerisation of business apps and personal apps, making it suited to BYOD workplaces. Every device, alongside desktops, can be managed from one centralised console and devices don't even need to be enrolled to benefit from MAM, too.

As well as allowing the device owner to use a device provisioned and managed by the organisation, Citrix XenMobile has also been designed to let multiple users have access to one mobile device. This is particularly useful for industries such as healthcare, where field workers and emergency service workers may need shared ownership of one device.

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However, it's likely one device will need applications and service provisioned with different access rights and this can be set up simply with XenMobile's MAM capabilities. IT managers can also lock down the device depending on the network location, stopping staff from using certain features outside of the corporate network.

Pricing: From $2.25 (1.71)/device/month

VMware AirWatch

VMWare's AirWatch MDM offers endpoint protection for all devices, regardless of operating system, with full device management, whether it's a BYOD or shared corporate device.

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You are able to deploy and manage any app via the platform's app catalogue, whether employees are trying to access them natively, on-device, via the web or remotely. The layered security across the individual user, endpoint, data, and network can all be centrally managed using the same mobility platform too.

AirWatch uses automation to carry out many everyday MDM tasks, which reduces the strain on IT staff. You don't have to manually provision or enroll devices - this happens without the need for any manpower, making it a perfect option for resource-stretched businesses.

Pricing: From $2.50 (2)/device/month

Next Steps

Hot desking and BYOD are both taking modern workplaces by storm, which means protecting employee devices that they use while on home networks and in personal use has never been more important. For businesses large and small, MDM can protect against employees that bring infected devices into work and subsequently compromise the whole organisation.

Which solution you choose will depend on a multitude of factors including the organisation's size, the number of devices, level of protection required and budget, but these top picks should give you a good start.

Before putting pen to paper, it's important to devise a solid business plan as MDMs don't come cheap. You need to consider the scalability of a company-wide solution and whether you're likely to see an ROI but security should be of paramount importance to any business. Failing to protect data in these times can lead to massive fines so there's no excuse not to take every measure to make sure your business stays afloat.

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