Best tools for mobile device management

Choosing between AirWatch, Apperian, BES 10, Divide, Fixmo and Good Technology depends on your priorities


MDM tools help you control who can access your enterprise network and applications from particular phones and tablets. To evaluate these products, you need to identify what you’re trying to control: apps, the pairing of a user and the device, the device itself, or the files on each device. We looked at six products: AirWatch, Apperian EASE, BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 (BES10), Divide, Fixmo, and Good Technology's Good for Enterprise. Each has a different perspective and different strengths in terms of what it can control best. (Read the story version.)


Device support varies

All of these products support Android and iOS devices, and some also support BlackBerries, Windows Phones, and even (in the case of AirWatch) desktops. Pricing varies between $20 and $75 per user or per device per year, and will depend on the particular features, with quantity discounts typically available.


AirWatch: Widest device support, excellent features

AirWatch supports the largest collection of devices, and was the only product that had both mobile and desktop management support. The bad news is that AirWatch sells three different products: one for MDM, one for mobile content management and one for mobile applications management, which can get confusing. On the plus side, AirWatch boasts fast device enrollment, has an impressive collection of granular policy settings, and offers a particularly rich passcode policy.


Apperian EASE: Strong application management

Apperian is all about the apps. While they sell their product with its own MDM, it is very lightweight in terms of device and user control. If you have a lot of corporate mobile apps and you want to wrap them in a very secure mechanism to keep track of who uses them on what particular devices, then this is the product for you. With Apperian, you don't download anything to your phone, instead you use your phone's Web browser to bring up the enrollment link and download a customized app store for your particular device and user name. Each app can have its own security policies and they are very clearly spelled out in the policy screen on the Web management console.


BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) v10.1: Good option for mobile email protection

Until recently, BlackBerry could only manage its own devices. Now it is capable of managing both Android and iOS too, via a new Universal Device Service. The extension into the brave new world of managing its competitors is intriguing, full of solid advantages, but somewhat complex to administer. BES is a solid MDM solution to lock down your mobile email. If this is a big concern then you should consider this product just on that alone. Second, BES has a solid collection of iOS/Android device management policies that you wouldn't expect from a v1 product.


Divide: Focus is on containerization

Divide (formerly Enterproid) supports only iOS and Android devices. Getting each device enrolled is very straightforward and involves downloading the app from iTunes or Google Play. Divide creates a separate and protected container and workspace on your phone where all business-related apps are launched.
You are limited to a single container per device. Divide uses a cloud-based manager to handle all devices, apps, and enterprise settings. The screens are clean and easy to navigate, with most of the MDM action happening under its Policy tab.

We thought its device password policies weren't up to the standards of some of the other products we used.

Fixmo: Strong on device security

Fixmo: Strong on device security

Fixmo came from the government compliance reporting space and it shows with its approach to device security. Setup is relatively straightforward via Fixmo's cloud service. There is also an on-premises Windows server that has additional features.

The cloud server doesn't support end-to-end secure sessions, so with it you'll need to use a supplemental VPN. Fixmo creates a secure container called SafeZone, which is an app that you download from iTunes or Google Play. It includes its own protected browser, an Office suite, email, calendar, contacts and a SharePoint app all built-in. The trick, like many MDMs, is to create your business-related content from this protected area. You can add apps via a separate series of menus in the management console.

Good Technology for Enterprise: Mature product, extensive collection of policies

Good Technology for Enterprise: Mature product, extensive collection of policies

Enrollment is straightforward. Good for Enterprise has a very extensive and granular collection of policies. It supports a wide variety of phones, starting with Android v2.2 and Kindle Fires, iOS v5 and later, plus Symbian and Windows Phones. Other MDMs block file attachments from being downloaded: with Good you can block specific file types as well as set a size limit (up to 32MB). The UI is very straightforward. Good has extensive password policies including smartcard support for second factor authentication. It also has solid online help that is quite searchable. One downside is that the Good client has limited app sharing: while it is supported, it isn't as useful as some of the other products.