Explore your options for SMB mobile device management

Summary:For many small companies, the debate about BYOD is over. But that doesn't mean they have to lose control over the management of employee-owned mobile devices.

The debate over whether or not to allow employee-provisioned mobile devices -- notebooks, tablets or smartphones -- to access your company's official IT infrastructure has already been decided for many smallish companies.

Somewhere north of 60 percent of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) have embraced some sort of BYOD policy, according to research released in May 2013 by IT professional community, Spiceworks . But far fewer of them, just 16 percent, have instituted any sort of formal policy for managing those mobile devices, according to that same study.

Those statistics have captured the attention of leading providers of mobile device management (MDM) software and services, many of which are recasting their platforms and technologies into a form that is more easily consumed by SMBs.

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Here are some of the latest options that have come to my attention this month; it's not all-inclusive, but it includes products that were explicitly designed for SMBs. (There are many, many other similar platforms that focus on enterprise accounts and that don't seem to be making an extra-special attempt to crack small businesses.)

AirWatch Professional - Only available for accounts or companies with fewer than 50 devices, this cloud-hosted service launched in May 2013 provides a central management console that allows administrators to remotely control a wide range of platforms inclduing Apple iOS, Google Android, Symbian, and Microsoft Windows Phone and Windows Phone 8. You can define company-wide access settings, monitor usage patterns and track the location using global positioning satellite (GPS) features. The service costs 1 euro per device per month (about $1.30 per device per month, based on current exchange rates). It supports 15 different languages. AirWatch also offers other small business plans, starting a $3.25 per device per month for an on-premises solution or $0.75 cents per device per month for a cloud option.

Beachhead Solutions SimplySecure Management System - Also billed as a simpler approach to MDM, this solution's primary focus is on security and access control for a range of different devices. It can detect rogue log-in attempts and monitor for potential threats that might signal that a notebook, tablet or smartphone has been stolen or lost. The company prices its service at $500 per year for 20 Android and/or iOS tablets or phones (the first 20 devices are free). It costs more to manage desktops ($99 per year per device). There's also a service option for USB storage devices.

Spotflux - This is another cloud-based option for filtering and securing mobile Internet traffic, mainly as protection against malware, viruses, unwanted tracking and potential identity theft. This is a new service - one currently offered for free for Windows or Macintosh notebooks, as well as iOS. There's an Android version in the works. So, this is not really a full-fledge MDM offering but rather a preemptive measure for those who want to take a chance on some freeware.

Tangoe Telecom Expense Management - This platform began life as a tool for helping large companies manage mobile telecommunications and wireless connectivity costs, but it has been adapted for small business mobile management tasks including the ability to set up triggers whenever something anomalous happens from an access standpoint. You can also do things such as set devices to "cut off" from data connections when someone is roaming, something that might result in unexpected mobile access expenses. The company doesn't publish its pricing.

Some other MDM companies you might want to research are BoxTone, CitrixGood Technology, ManageEngine, andMobileIron. I can't find explicit information on MDM for small businesses, but would be surprised if it doesn't become a future focus.  

Topics: SMBs, Mobility

About

Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News. She started her journalism lif... Full Bio

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