10 BYOD mobile device management suites you need to know

Can't decide on a BYOD management suite? This list will put you on the fast track to finding the one that's right for you.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

For those of you still kicking tires on a BYOD management program, I have a special treat for you: A list of ten MDM suite vendors that are itching to make first contact with you. The good people over at Enterprise iOS made a valiant effort at an extensive comparison chart of 30 or so different MDM vendors for you. I'm not one who likes to reinvent the wheel so you can look at that chart for yourself. My part of this evaluation is to highlight ten of those awesome companies--some of whom I've spoken with, others I know by directly using their software and still others I know from independent study and evaluation. The ten MDM vendors I'm highlighting here in no way is an endorsement, paid or otherwise, nor is it a 'diss' of the vendors that I don't list in my ten "favorites."

This is also not a review. To do a review in a short article would be unfair to any of the vendors mentioned. This is simply a highlight and a "Hey, you should look at these MDMs before you settle on a BYOD solution."

The single most important qualifying or disqualifying point is that the MDM software must support more than a single platform. The second is that it must support Apple's iOS. For example, if an MDM vendor supports only Android, it isn't listed in my ten. I feel that any vendor worth its salt needs to, at the very least, support Apple's iOS, Android and Windows. Other platforms are optional--you know, because of market share and so on. Support for Desktop OSs is also optional but suggested as something that should be on the drawing board.

This list is in alphabetical order.

  1. AirWatch - AirWatch is one of the best MDM suites that I've seen. It perhaps sets a new standard for MDM in it extensive support for iOS and other mobile devices. If there's any negative thing to say about it, it's the fact that it doesn't support any standard desktop OSs. That said, I'm thinking that AirWatch is a definite "one to watch" and if you don't at least try this one out, I question whether you should consider BYOD at all.
  2. AmTel MDM - OK, this one's a real sleeper for me. I'd never heard of it before but it has as many or more features than just about any other MDM in the list. I think you should give it a good look for your BYOD implementation. Be aware, though, this suite is so good that AmTel might be inadvertently painting an "acquisition" target on their backs. Hold out for the big money, guys (wink).
  3. Dialogs Smartman Device Management - Smartman is a SOPHOS company and this one gave me quite a surprise. It has all the features you'd expect from a full-blown enterprise management suite. I'm quite impressed with the level of quality and support from this suite considering that it comes from a company that isn't completely focused on device management alone. Another sleeper that deserves your attention. Dornröschen aufwachen!
  4. Exitor DME - Although I'm not too familiar with Exitor, personally, they compare favorably with the other MDMs in the list. They support every mobile device type and they support all but a small handful of enterprise-level features. Exitor comes to you from Denmark. Sorry, I don't know any cute Danish phrases but I do like the cheese and other non-rotten edibles from the state of Denmark.
  5. FancyFon - The name leaves a bit to be desired but this entry from the Emerald Isle is a serious contender in the MDM market. And, by any other name it wouldn't smell any sweeter than it does now. FancyFon supports all mobile device types, includes some very high-level enterprise features and fully support Apple's iOS 5.x. I'll drink to that.
  6. Fiberlink MaaS360 - OK, any MDM company that can make me laugh by giving me a whitepaper named, "The Ten Commandments of BYOD" can't be all bad. In fact, MaaS360 (Mobile as a Service?) is quite the MDM gladiator with support for every mobile and almost every desktop OS on the market (No support for Linux desktops). I like it. Whatever their name means, I think it has MaaS appeal for BYODers to be.
  7. IBM - Yes, Big Blue is into mobile device management with its Tivoli product IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices. Tivoli manages mobile devices as light "endpoints." Believe me, once you manage something with Tivoli (I'm a former Tivoli administrator), you own that device. For some, Tivoli might be a bit heavy-handed because of its ability to absolutely manage every aspect of an endpoint but don't worry, the device still belongs to you. When you go Blue, you never go back.
  8. MobileIron - It's hard not to play favorites when you look at a product like MobileIron. MobileIron supports all phone device types but doesn't support desktop OSs yet. This young company is definitely one to watch. You should also ask for a demo. As Darth Vader would say, "Impressive."
  9. Symantec - It probably doesn't surprise you too much to know that Symantec is on this list. Symantec has been a leader in device security for as long as I've been in IT. It's product list is long but its list of supported device types is even longer. If you could run SGI on a wristwatch, Symantec would support it. Don't get any ideas though, no one wants a SGI-based wristwatch.
  10. Zenprise - If there's a single company's MDM you need to check out, it's Zenprise. You should look closely at their products even if you've already decided on a MDM. It doesn't support desktop OSs but for the long list of mobile devices it supports, you get a very extensive list of features. In fact, Zenprise's MDM has so many features, perhaps it could help you with your motorcycle maintenance as well. You know, since motorcycles are mobile devices and all.

In choosing your MDM suite, my best advice is to first refer to my list of downselected suites, then look at the great MDM reference that Enterprise iOS created for you--examine the list of features of each suite and then make your own short list. Hit their websites, look at the product demos--some of which can actually use your device in the demo--and make a good decision. Honestly, it would be very difficult for me to choose one of the ten for my own MDM.

Talk back and let us know if you've chosen one from the list and tell us how you feel about it. We'd be especially interested in hearing from administrators and end users.

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