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10 things to consider when evaluating an MDM

It’s 2019. Your company is loosening its grip on its technology hardware policies, and you are starting to see (or get requests for) more Apple devices in your environment. It’s a phone call I take every day…well actually, it’s several calls I take every day.

As a business development representative at Jamf, I’m on the frontlines of inquiries for potential customers and often hear:

“I’m the IT admin for my company; within the past year we have implemented a new hardware policy, and we are adding more and more Apple users every day. I’m not used to managing Apple devices, and need help figuring it out fast!”

For the end user, the experience of having choice in technology might feel empowering, but for the IT team, it can present a new set of challenges as they begin to understand managing a new class of devices and/or operating systems.

There are so many different facets that go into making device management successful that this list could go on and on. But in no particular order, here are 10 things to consider when evaluating MDM vendors:

1. Do you fully understand your company’s management needs?

The first step in evaluating a mobile device management (MDM) solution should always start with taking an inventory of your goals for device management, followed closely by understanding any regulations, rules or laws your company is bound to follow. Doing so will allow you to create a baseline requirement for management necessities as not all MDM solutions offer the same features and functionality.

2. Who is your IT Team?

It is also important to take in to account who will be managing the deployment and maintenance of your devices. A team of dedicated IT professionals may have their own requirements to consider and will likely handle deployment differently than a smaller operation that doesn’t have a fully dedicated support staff. Everyone operates differently, but you want to make sure that your support staff has the right tools to support your organization efficiently and successfully.

At Jamf we offer tools for a range of IT abilities and deployment complexities, from simple iOS focused deployments with Jamf Now, to the more robust capabilities of Jamf Pro.

3. Is the platform easy to use? Is there training offered?

Even with a full IT background, it can be difficult to navigate new solutions, especially if it’s with an operating system you are not completely familiar with. Solutions like Jamf Now are easy to navigate, and are ready for an admin to jump right in and start managing, whereas solutions like Jamf Pro offer much more granular controls, and it can be beneficial to a conduct a bit of training in order to fully leverage the platform.

At Jamf we offer training courses for the beginner with the Jamf 100 Course, and move all the way up to expert level with the Jamf 400 Course and certifications. Not to mention the added bonus of professional services, including on-boarding engagements, to help with initial deployment.

4. What support options are available?

Support options for your MDM platform are also important to consider. Is there a phone number or dedicated support staff to call? Do they offer live chat or email support? What’s included with the subscription? These are all important questions to go over with your Account Executive in order to make sure the right options are available for your organization and deployment team. You want to make sure that the team that supports you has a team that supports them.

5. What is the scale for your deployment?

This is one of the first questions I ask prospects on a daily basis, as some MDM providers can leverage different solutions and features based on deployment size.

Taking Jamf as an example: Jamf Now and Jamf School both really shine in environments with smaller macOS concentrations and more focus on iOS deployments; with numbers in the 1-200 device range for Jamf Now and up to 1,000 devices for Jamf School. For large deployments that scale well passed 1,000 devices, these environments find better success with the organization and smart grouping features of Jamf Pro.

6. How does the platform empower end users?

Do end users feel like they are being monitored or so restricted that they have a hard time using their device? User empowerment and ensuring data privacy are cornerstones of Apple’s mission. Jamf honors that by ensuring end users feel confident unboxing their tech, powering on their devices for the first time, and sitting back as the rest takes care of itself.

7. Are there on-premises and cloud hosting options available?

Cloud hosting is becoming the default for many computing solutions, but there are plenty of organizations that follow stringent regulations that may require an on-premises solution. Jamf offers secure support for SaaS hosted solutions or the flexibility to host on-premises, along with deployment support to make sure you are up and operating in the environment of your choice.

8. How secure is the platform?

There are plenty of different security concerns to take into account when evaluating MDM solutions, such as:

  • What kind of security certifications or audits have been performed and successfully completed?
  • Is my data encrypted, and if so, how? Is it cryptographically secure?
  • Where is my data stored?
  • Who has access to my data?

And this just broaches the surface of frequently asked questions when it comes to security and compliance. Not only is this important to employers, but employees want to know that their data is safe and remains private.

9. How much does it cost?

Obviously, one of the most frequently asked questions relates to total cost, but cost completely breezes over the importance of value. Cost refers to the overall dollar amount charged for a service, and is what most companies are seeking when reaching out for a quote. What they are missing out on, however, is the value of the services.

It’s very important to understand what is included in that dollar amount: Are there initial implementation fees? Training? Extra support? Licensing?

Sometimes the value may outweigh the cost, and sometimes vice-versa, but taking a look at the larger picture before turning a number on paper away may make a world of difference when it comes to your interpretation of cost.

10. Do they have a product that meets my needs?

Every organization’s needs are going to be different; some have large deployments with complexities abound, while others are merely trying to deploy simple apps to a handful of employee devices. It’s important to make sure that the MDM provider you choose offers a solution that fits your needs best.

Jamf’s portfolio offers solutions for every customer regardless of their needs. Whether it’s Jamf School or Jamf Pro for education, Jamf Now or Jamf Pro for business, or Jamf Connect for identity management, our products meet you where you’re at.

But don’t just take my word for it. Try for yourself (for free) or give us a call to discuss first.