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Top tools for BYOD management

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

By Tom Henderson, Network World
November 05, 2012 12:09 AM ET

Network World - When we tested mobile device management (MDM) last year, the products were largely focused on asset management - provisioning, protecting and containing mobile devices.

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.

Of the five MDM apps we reviewed, SOTI's MobiControl was very strong and understood specific phones and OS platforms very well. Tangoe had very strong enterprise-focused management features. Newcomer Webroot is promising, but still has work to do to catch up to the others in our test. SAP's Afaria, which we tested last year, sported a new, almost radical makeover that's a dramatic improvement over their last edition. Venerable LanDesk has added MDM to its desktop management suite, and while the installation phase gave us moderate willies, we came to appreciate the product's device controls, easy policy management and reporting.

Overall, MobiControl and Afaria tied for first place in our test, with Tangoe not far behind.

Watch a slideshow version of this story.

The specific purpose of our test was to examine mobile device management. However, it's important to note that all five vendors offer MDM as well as a variety of other optional applications. These additional features were not tested.

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For example, Tangoe also offers telephony cost control and asset lifecycle applications. LanDesk adds their highly seasoned Windows-based systems management console. SAP/Afaria adds in optional analytics and its MDM app can be internally hosted on SAP/Sybase database infrastructure (Microsoft's, too). SOTI adds MobiAssist, a PC/mobile device help desk center with rapid remote control. And Webroot adds a line of consumer virus/malware detection systems and secure web browsing.

net results

Here are the individual reviews:

Tangoe MDM

Tangoe installs on their hosts (at a Data Foundry collocation facility and elsewhere), or can be deployed on premises, or run as a managed service within a client's data center (by Tangoe or Tangoe affiliates). We went with the hosted cloud model (because it's easier, frankly). A full stack of the installation can be accessed via VPN.

Tangoe started in telephony cost containment and asset control applications, and their products offer complete mobile device life-cycle management. The MDM functionality was mature and reflects workflow used in larger organizations well. The web UI in our test didn't quite define the workflow, but became rapidly maneuverable.

The Tangoe MDM app can cover iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile. The customer intake process starts with provisioning the elements of Tangoe MDM, then deploying the apps and software into their destinations. In our case, that was Tangoe's cloud.

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