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All You Need to Know about Mobile Device Management (MDM)

By CIOReview | Thursday, July 28, 2016

Technologies solely come with an aim of making life simple and efficient; and mobile devices, which are spearheading the BYOD revolution, are the perfect example of it. BYOD delivers flexibility to the employees, and increasing the productivity with lower equipment costs. However, the implementation of bring your own device vogue is not always simple and efficient, as it comes with its own baggage of security issues and training needs.  

The underlying risk of a BYOD has given rise to mobile device management (MDM) to monitor, manage, and secure employees laptops, smart phones, and tablets in the workplace.

What is Mobile Device Management?

Mobile device management allows seamless distribution of applications, data, and configuration settings. It further provides optimal performance to users by enabling administrators to oversee mobile devices as desktop computers. MDM tools include application management, file synchronization and sharing, and data security tools.

The robust features of mobile device management include:

• Compatibility with common handheld device operating platforms and applications
• Function through multiple service providers
• Implemented to target specific devices as necessary
• Deploy next-generation hardware, operating platforms and applications quickly
• Add or remove devices from the system to ensure optimum network efficiency and security

The evolution of Mobile device management

The proliferation in mobile devices and IT controls has enforced the need for robust Mobile device management. The multi-faceted role of MDM comprise of policy enforcement, configuration management, and remote control. All these explore and remediate problems by establishing and enforcing security, maintaining integrity, disabling lost or stolen mobile devices, fixing application settings, and processing updates and changes.

Additional integrated tools, technologies, processes, and policies make MDM solution a core component of enterprise mobility management (EMM). It helps in addressing business and technological context of device usage in organizations. IT firms and service providers use EMM suites to deliver IT support to mobile end users and to maintain security policies.

Core functions of Mobile device management

The MDM maintains information of all the devices using server by tracking the hardware. The server also stores the configuration settings and critical information including tracking software licenses.


On boarding an enterprise, mobile device involves capturing essential information like the device type, software release, phone number, and IMEI information. Users connects to the network via a portal; accommodating both personal and corporate liability. Mobile Iron’s Sentry program taps into ActiveSync in determining the number of devices that are not registered. Connection to the system can be done by sending device an SMS with a link. The user is assigned to the group via LDAP and the group involves a security profile that can be pushed to the device. The server can be configured with WLAN SSIDs, VPN control through over the air (OTA).  


Maintenance is the key for seamless and scalable function of mobile devices in the user. The ongoing functions comprises of frequent software on the device, monitoring mobile device health and providing troubleshooting assistance. Maintenance in the software front includes robust functions such as; ensuring frequent updating of software versions, setting are in place and devices are not ‘jail broken’ for iphone and ‘rooted’ for Android. Looking at the security front, the most crucial function is the ability to remotely lock or wipe the device.

Some devices also refrain from troubleshooting problems by instantly notifying the users when they are in international roaming through alerts and giving helpdesk to automatically able to turn on the ringer; allowing users to locate device by calling.

End-of-life decommissioning

To eliminate the cases of widespread sensitive information, end-of-life decommissioning is the key. The company’s sensitive information should be removed in both the cases of the device being upgraded or the user quitting the job. A stringent mobile policy should also be maintained by the company to specify if the employees are allowed to keep their mobile number or the company possess it when they are leaving the job.


For the effective functioning of the organizations, Role-and policy- based security is the pillar. The key security function for the MDM include checking virus attacks and updates, firewall, encryption, authentication, remote lock, remote wipe, virtual private network setup and configuration and related management features.

The future:

The surge in the usage of iphone, Android and other devices has led to a strong need for comprehensive security and management capabilities that BlackBerry devices possess. The BlackBerry device embedded with BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) provides a complete security with around 400 policy options.

In order to facilitate quick decisions, IT management apps should also be integrated with IT hardware. MDM solutions will enable deep packet inspection in order to detect security breaches easily. The use of smart watches would remain as the essential part of daily functioning. In addition, Mobility will also continue to be one of the fastest moving segments in IT leveraging the utilization of MDM in the future.