To MDM or not to MDM?

If your company is planning to implement MDM (Mobile Device Management) it may get a strong feeling of getting stifled at work. This would especially be true if your phone is not company provided.

And you would be justified.

On the other hand your company is also justified in wanting to ensure the security of its network and its corporate data. Nothing short of these draconian measures can really be secure enough.


If the gap between what the organization want and what you would feel comfortable with is so large, how do we find a common ground?

MDM products need to evolve a lot to bridge the gap. Till then you may not see large scale adoption.

Quick test

How many of these acronyms can you expand? MDM, MAM, MIM, BYOD, BYOC, BYOT and TEM – The expansions at the end of this post.

What would MDM mean to you?

Hand over complete control: Would you want give full control of your smartphone to your IT department? MDM is like a root kit that your IT department puts on your phone.

Enforcing strong password: Would you want them to enforce a complex password with a 10-second screen lock timer that you’ll have to fumble through? As it is entering anything in a mobile is quiet painful.

Complete remote wipe: Would you want them to have the ability to remotely wipe your entire device, including anything personal you have on there? The process may even be automated if there are multiple failed attempts to login.

Privacy concern: Do you want them to be able to see what apps you have installed and where the device is at all times? White-list and black-list of application can restrict what application you can or cannot install.

Why would organizations want to enforce such strong arm tactics?

If your organization wants to ensure the security of the network and the corporate data, nothing short of this is good enough.

So, what are the components of MDM?

  • Software Distribution: The ability to manage and support mobile application including deploy, install, update, delete or block.
  • Policy Management: Development, control and operations of enterprise mobile policy.
  • Inventory Management: Beyond basic inventory management, this includes provisioning and support.
  • Security Management: The enforcement of standard device security, authentication and encryption.
  • Service Management: Rating of telecom services.
  • Device lifecycle management: To be able to answer questions like, what mobile devices are in use and help in buying decision / decision to retire a device.
  • Protecting against malware: This is just like the anti-virus software on your PC.
  • Remote provisioning: Ability to send setting to your mobile.
  • Enterprise Application Store: An App store for all the application developed for use in the enterprise.

Here is an example of how Stanford University has attempted MDM.

List of MDM solution provider – recommended by Gartner & Forrester

Providers in both Gartner’s & Forrester’s list:

AirwatchBoxToneGood TechnologyMcAfeeMobile Iron, SAP – Sybase – AfariaSOTISymantec – OdysseyTangoeTrend MicroZenprise

Only in Gartner’s list:

Amtel, Fiberlink, IBM –  Armonk, LANDesk, MYMobile Security, Open Peak, Silverback MDM, Smith Micro Software, Sophos

Only in Forrester’s List:

Absolute Software, Excitor, FancyFon, Kaseya, Microsoft, Mobile Active Defense, Motorola Solutions, Notify Technology, Numara Software – Fromdistance, Research In Motion, Wavelink


  • MDM = Mobile Device Management
  • MAM = Mobile Application Management
  • MIM= Mobile Information Management
  • BYOD = Bring Your Own Device
  • BYOC = Bring Your Own Computer
  • BYOT = Bring Your Own Technology
  • TEM = Telecom Expense management

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