Mobile Devices in Enterprises

The last six months I have been working on a view and opinion about the upcoming trend on “Bring your own/ Choose your own device” (BYOD/CYOD) in Enterprises and the associated mobile platforms.

Every IT admin knows what I am talking about. One day the head of the department walks in your office and says: “We’ve just ordered a bunch of iPads and some iPhones (or Galaxy tabs, HTC phones etc). Make sure the device owners can use these devices within our company infrastructure and that they can use email/agenda and can log into our environment (Citrix Xenapp, VMware View, Terminal services). Oh, and one more thing. We expected everything to be secure and to be managed by the IT department”.

Well you think thats going to be a big challenge. And your (a bit) right. First things first. What to do about BYOD and CYOD? I think it’s simple. Forget about BYOD. It’s unpossible to manage all kinds of devices/platforms and the different versions of operating systems with all their diffirent API’s! Go for CYOD and let the employee/customer choose from a different set of devices. For example a budget model smartphone (HTC?), the Samsung Galaxy SII/III, Galaxy tab and the so popular iPhone (4/s4) and iPad. Why? Now you know wich devices to support you can move further on looking for a solution to manage/support and enroll these devices.

I have looked at some different Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions and talked to a lot of MDM sales executives. They all claim the same: “We can manage all platforms!”. Yeah, sure you can! But can you manage all the platforms the same way and can you enroll en support them with the same ammount of policy sets? Then their answer is quick and clear. No we can’t. Then they say: “Our most comprehensive set of policies and support is for iOS”. Why? iOS (Apple) is the most “full-grown” smartphone supplier that has a clear vision on developing their OS (a give the MDM developers enough API’s to develope policies set’s) for use within enterprises.

So what is really the difference on choosing the platform for the IT admin?

What is the most important on the mobile devices in enterprises? Yes, it’s the email and agenda isn’t it? How can we make sure the device owners don’t have to set up the (for example) Exchange account thereselfs or the IT admin has to do it for them? We buy a MDM solution that provides in this and we enroll the device with a policy wich include our mail server settings. To do this the IT admin has to configure the policy template. And here is the actual difference. For example: for the Android devices you can’t create one template! Why? There are so much different Android device platforms and versions of the OS (Samsung, HTC etc) and all with their own email and agenda client. That’s why the MDM developers use Nitrodesk Touchdown client (wich cost you $19,99 per client!). By using Nitrodesk you can create one mail/agenda policy template. But what about the device users? Yes, this was not all. The device user has now 2 mail/agenda clients. Ofcourse the standard client wich came with the OS and the Nitrodesk touchdown client you (push) with your MDM solution. This all doesn’t make the usage of the device and the app’s that clear to your (not so IT minded) employees. And this was only about the email and agenda issue. Not to get even started on the different policy possibilities between the different platforms. You can look into that by reviewing this PDF (Policy set’s with AirWatch MDM).

Now that we talked a little bit on the Android way to provide your employees with company email and agenda let’s now talk about the Apple iOS way to do this (I don’t discuss Blackberry, Sybian or Windows Phone in this article. I hope you know why…). With an iOS device you can really quick set up a policy template. The advantage of an iPhone or iPad is that they all, and then a mean really all devices regardless wich type or platform, they all use the same client! So you don’t have to go and buy a license or so for a third party mail/agenda app. Also the IT Admin has only to create one template for all the iOS devices. What does this mean for the device users? The users of the devices can use their standard client wich (if you choose to do so) can use their private and company email and agenda. Ofcourse all of this with the standard device encryption that comes with your iOS device (wich Android doesn’t have).

Now, I wan’t to make clear to you, I don’t sell Apple products or have any shares of Apple. I just want to make clear to you if you are looking for a solution with mobile devices in your enterprise take my story in consideration.

Update #1: AirWatch does now support the standard email client for Samsung and HTC devices. So now you don’t longer need to buy the Touchdown client for these devices. However their is a big difference in the range of options for your mail config between Samsung and HTC. In the HTC profile you can only set your mailservers address. No options for sync period etc. With the Samsung profile you can! so that’s a big improvement.

Still I think there is a advantage of using iOS. For iOS you only have to configure one email profile for all your iOS devices regardless wich iOS version. For Android (when I want to support all devices) I still need to configure 3 profiles (one for Samsung, one for HTC (with his limited options) and one profile for all other iOS devices).

I hope you have enjoyed reading my article. I really appreciate your reaction on this post. Any comments are welcome!

Looking for a complete and reliable MDM solution? Look into the AirWatch solution! trust me, it’s worth it!