Companies must understand what capabilities they are looking for in an enterprise mobility management product suite.
The major options on the market vary in regard to policy management, mobile device management, authentication, application development, continuous integration, reporting and mobile backend as a service. Buyers must know how the offerings compare to one another in order to select the most effective enterprise mobility management (EMM) software suite for their company.
A foundational aspect of EMM is policy enforcement, which enables an IT admin to wipe a stolen device; remotely disable features on a phone, such as a camera; or enforce features, such as a limit on the number of password attempts. Policy management will meet the needs of many companies that are looking to implement a simple BYOD or corporate-owned, personally enabled program.
One of the leading EMM providers in terms of policy management for remote devices is Microsoft. The Exchange Server and Office 365 suites of tools that Microsoft offers both make it easy for admins to manage simple device policy enforcement, like remote wipe. Currently, there is a limit of ten devices per account for each license.
Google Enterprise and G Suite also offer easy-to-implement policy management. Both Microsoft and Google EMM tools are good for companies that have either a small number of devices or that are new to device management, as they are simple products that require little instruction for admins to create a secure environment.
Mobile device management
An environment that provides an inventory of devices, OS configuration management and remote wipe capabilities also needs mobile device management (MDM) tools. Over the last three years, there has been a considerable amount of consolidation in the MDM market, with many companies purchasing from independent MDM vendors.
One of the leading independent EMM providers is MobileIron Inc. Its strength is a combination of good on-premises software and the ability to stay up to date with rapid changes in the mobile market. For instance, MobileIron has the most comprehensive support for Google's Android for Work enterprise management tool for Android Marshmallow and even newer OSes.
A weakness of MobileIron is its cloud service. VMware's AirWatch is arguably the better product for companies that need a cloud service for MDM. An alternative to VMware is IBM's MaaS360. All three vendors are currently leapfrogging each other between releases. The result is that the products mature quickly.
An exception to standard MDM is schools that manage hundreds of iPads. Schools deploying iPads may want to consider utilizing Apple's own extensions in iOS that enable students to share a single device.
Authentication: SSO and IDaaS
There are two effective ways to authenticate a user from a mobile device: single sign-on (SSO) and identity as a service (IDaaS).
The foundation for many SSO programs is Microsoft's Active Directory authentication. Active Directory requires a virtual private network for mobile single sign-on.
Cisco's AnyConnect is the leading VPN client for iOS-powered devices, but the required authentication combination of VPN, user ID and password can be complicated for users.
A more useful model is IDaaS, an authentication structure that is built, hosted and managed by a third-party EMM provider. IDaaS is not cheap, and it should have benefits outside of EMM for companies to consider it.
With that said, leaders in the market -- Okta, Microsoft and Centrify -- are at the top because their products are easy to implement, provide new multifactor authentication, and can integrate into web, mobile and desktop platforms. Google Apps for Work comes with IDaaS services included.
If an enterprise requires tight security, then BlackBerry is still a very good choice, particularly the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
Continuous integration and version control management
Continuous integration and version control for mobile apps are not so different from traditional app development. Tools such as Atlassian Bitbucket, GitHub, and Microsoft Team Foundation Server or Visual Studio Online can all manage version control for apps. Newer companies may want to utilize Bitbucket, as it is a cheaper tool.
Continuous integration tools, such as Jenkins, are open source and will meet the needs of most development teams.
There is a clear, common goal for developers: Utilize open source tools. Open source tools can construct the full mobile delivery environment for your EMM system.
Statistics, analytics and reporting
Enterprises must measure their EMM tools in order to measure success. Fortunately, many of the tools from the various EMM providers listed above come with their own dashboards and reporting tools. A single, centralized reporting tool is not yet available for EMM platforms, as EMM is still a growing concept. Because of its maturity level, admins may need to juggle between MDM, mobile analytics, authentication reports and continuous integration reports to validate the work of the EMM system.
Implementing any EMM platform in today's rapidly changing digital world must address the increasingly broad demands that go beyond mobile phones and tablets. Endpoints, which include PCs, internet of things devices, as well as mobile devices, continue to fall in price. The challenge is to adopt technologies that build on top of security and support the digital needs of your employees.
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