Top tools for BYOD management

SOTI MobiControl and SAP Afaria lead the way in five-vendor test of MDM tools

mobile device management

When we tested mobile device management (MDM) last year, the products were largely focused on asset management. What a difference a year makes. The products we compared in this round of testing have much stronger controls of specific smartphones and mobile operating systems, plus features like location-based tracking, usage tracking, two-factor authentication and sandboxing of personal and corporate identities. (Read the story version.)

SOTI MobiControl

SOTI MobiControl

Of the MDM apps we tested, SOTI is the more comprehensive (for Android and iOS), if not the most scary MDM. The fright comes from the degree of controls that can be applied -- and the fact that it can track phone locations across most parts of the planet on its console's Google Map. Only the administrator of the Mobicontrol can “see” this information, but we get the feeling that it opens up a Pandora's box of interesting situations. There are two versions of MobiControl; we tested the cloud version. Customer intake includes Active Directory linking where needed or desired. Overall, we found MobiControl's provisioning and administration model to be well-thought-through.

Tangoe MDM

Tangoe MDM

We tested Tangoe’s cloud-based MDM service. The MDM functionality was mature and reflects workflow used in larger organizations well. The Tangoe MDM app can cover iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile. Tangoe MDM workflow wanted us to go through the steps of deciding security and compliance policies in one of two ways: a flat model that treats all devices the same, or one that divides devices into two profiles, personal and corporate. Overall, it's a powerful application with understandable flow and good controls.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Business-Mobile Protection

Webroot SecureAnywhere Business-Mobile Protection

Webroot has taken their online, graduated-feature-set of personal/consumer MDM control apps (called SecureAnywhere Personal), and upgraded it to a small organization-sized cloud product. We found it immature, but promising. Webroot is known for its desktop virus/malware protection products, and SAB-MP is an extension of a portal-based MDM product. Webroot tries to protect the phone through secure browsing, SMS examination for origin of malware, and has a virus/malware scanning app. It's less complicated, but also not as strongly featured as SOTI and Afaria.

LanDesk Mobility Manager

LanDesk Mobility Manager

The LanDesk Management Console platform is based on Windows Active Directory Services, Exchange 2007 or 2010, and the RIM Business Enterprise Server/BES Server. The LanDesk Mobility Manager is an add-on to the basic (and required) LanDesk Management Console. While we like the LanDesk configuration, we'd feel more comfortable if devices brought under its management control received a sound thrashing at installation for root kits and jailbroken conditions. Beyond this, however, for an organization that wants to leverage a sound Active Directory infrastructure, the free Management Infrastructure that you get with the Mobility Control is a decided plus.

SAP Afaria 7

SAP Afaria 7

When we looked at what was then Sybase Afaria, we found a comprehensive package whose approach had Frankenstein-like integration. Since that time, Sybase and Afaria have been acquired by SAP, and their approach to MDM is now integrated into a single web-UI portal that, in turn, controls modular servers that perform various elements of device management and control. The “single pane of glass” in Afaria 7 overcomes the several panes of glass that were demonstrated in our last view of Afaria 6, which was comprehensive, but mind-boggling to manage. In the current cloud model, Afaria still uses modular components, but processes are now linked together logically.