Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Popular MDM vendors and their SWOT analysis

Popular MDM vendors and their SWOT analysis

MDM in the mobile security world stands for “mobile device management” and is primarily a policy and configuration management tool for mobile devices primarily for smart phones and to some extent tablets too. It primarily provides security, network services and management of mainly devices and to some extent apps and across multiple OS platforms (from Apple iOS to Android to Blackberry and Windows). Solution is usually on-premises but few are coming out with cloud versions too. MDM is one of the ways of helping enterprises to implement BYOD (bring-your-own-device) initiatives.

Generally a full MDM solution has four main components:

      1. Device Management: mainly includes procurement, provisioning, inventory, activation, deactivation, performance etc.

   2.Software Management: mainly includes configuration, patches/fixes, backup/restore, authorized software monitoring etc.

    3.Network Services: mainly includes capturing location, usage, cellular and wlan network information etc.

  4.Security Management: mainly includes remote wipe, remote lock, passcode enforcement, authentication, firewall, antivirus, mobile VPN etc.

More often than not a MDM to do all these four components will install a client on the device to manage it. My strong opinion which one need not subscribe to is that, installing an employer’s software client on an employee owned device is not the right way to manage security of the enterprise. It not only breaches the privacy of the employee especially of what one does during non-office hours but also can potentially know where one is (geo location) when technology  can do the security otherwise (without installing a client on the device, which I call agentless way of managing security). Of course there are many highly regulated industries where MDM might make sense where one needs to control the ability of switching off the camera to removing the ability for the device to act like a USB storage drive. Nevertheless MDM has been widely used in the industry more so as a device (BYOD) management tool rather than a security tool.

I have analyzed some of the popular MDM vendors but please take the whole thing of evaluation with sacks of salt and use your own judgment as this is my personal opinion and based on my personal criteria rather than any industry standard criteria. Please add all the standard disclaimer text here just to be safe J If you really want a full-fledged SWOT analysis of all MDM vendors I think Gartner would have done a thorough analysis along with the magic quadrant analysis and one probably should refer there. This is strictly my opinion and my analysis, and also the vendors I have chosen just some of the popular ones and this list my no means is exhaustive. Ok all disclaimer text over and now onto the real work, evaluating the popular MDM vendors J

Some of the MDM vendors I looked into are:  MobileIron, AirWatch, BoxTone, Zenprise, Fiberlink, GoodTech and Symantec. 

Manjunath M Gowda
Agentless BYOD Control”, @i7networks

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