Due to the global pandemic, remote work has become vital for maintaining continuous operations in many organizations. As a result of this shift away from the office, IT departments need a tool they can rely on to securely manage remote users and devices from anywhere. Mobile device management (MDM) solutions frequently fill this need, but they can add unnecessary complexity to multi-vendor IT environments and be cost prohibitive for small or midsize enterprises.
Historically, this need was solved through system management or device management solutions, but in the modern era with a wide range of device types and operating systems, next generation MDM solutions are picking up the mantle to secure and manage devices. For many IT organizations, the question becomes: Is there a free MDM tool administrators can use to effectively manage their mobile workforce and diverse device environments with minimal friction? This article will explore the answer to the cost-effective MDM dilemma.
What Does a Free MDM Tool Need to Do?
Admins employ MDMs to manage not only mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and other endpoints, but also Windows®, Mac®, and Linux® devices. As MDMs have expanded their scope, the term MDM has started to encompass the ideas of system management or device management in the traditional sense of those terms. Often, MDM tools are used to set up, configure, and manage these systems, and they usually provide policies, application management / patching, remote configuration, and command execution as well. This includes:
- Device enrollment (e.g. via Apple Business Manager for Mac / iOS), which is critical for zero-touch deployment
- Software package installations and management
- OS and application patch management
- Group policy-like configuration management
- Security command execution (i.e. lock, shut down, restart, wipe)
- Device telemetry
Although some MDMs are implemented through on-premises infrastructure, some are also offered as-a-Service from the cloud. Most, however, don’t have native user management controls in place that would allow for effective device lifecycle management. As a result, most MDMs need to be paired with a core directory service for access by individual corporate identities, which can increase IT complexity and cost.
Device management has traditionally been the center of what IT manages, but that has changed to identity management, of which controlling and securing devices has become a sub-task. Over time, IT organizations have learned that the most critical aspect of their roles is to provide secure, frictionless access to IT resources including systems, applications, file servers, networks, and more. In order to accomplish that goal, not only does there need to be a secure identity, but also a device that is safe, secure, and healthy.
How Are MDM Tools Typically Priced?
Most MDMs are priced per system for every system managed. This model often ends up being more expensive than other IT management tools that price based on users, since many users require multiple devices (laptop, tablet, smartphone). Often, modern tools that embed device management within them take a holistic viewpoint of what the user needs and enable management of multiple devices per user, decreasing the effective cost for IT organizations. Additionally, MDMs come with variable tiers of capability. Although many organizations make do with basic functionality, others can pay for additional features at premium prices.
In a fluctuating global marketplace, IT admins need to consistently evaluate how they’re spending money, especially when it comes to needs as critical as system management. By eliminating or consolidating solutions and automating processes, many admins find they can optimize their operations while staying lean budget-wise. The best case scenario, of course, is that they can find free tools to address their needs.
What Does Free MDM From the Cloud Look Like?
The easiest way to save money is to not spend any at all. Many MDM solutions offer a trial version that gives free access to the product for a short period of time. These generally offer only a portion of the entire product, or gate access to only a few weeks of use time, so they may not be the best long-term choice for organizations that want to manage their devices on a tight budget.
For organizations looking to consolidate their identity and access management needs, including free MDM, there is an option available from the cloud: JumpCloud’s Directory Platform. Our platform is the first cloud directory service. It features macOS® and Windows MDM capabilities as a native functionality of its general device management capabilities, which also include group policy-like functions and ad hoc command execution.
You can use MDM and other Mac, Windows, and Linux system management features free for up to 10 users and 10 devices. You will have access to the full functionality of our platform and not pay a cent until you add 11 or more users or devices. Sign up for JumpCloud Free today to get started. Make sure to take advantage of our free, premium 24×7 chat support during your first 10 days.