In case you haven’t heard, Apple®’s latest operating system upgrade, macOS® 11 Big Sur, contains some new features that will require big changes for IT administrators and managed service providers (MSPs). Namely, Apple requires a mobile device management (MDM) solution for Big Sur Mac® devices.
As such, many are searching for a hosted MDM solution. If you’re in that boat — or if you’re now wondering if you should be — you’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover everything from the basics to what features you should consider in your search.
How MDM Has Changed Over Time
MDM solutions are a critical and efficient way for IT organizations to manage their fleet of devices.
This trend started many years ago as MDM solutions emerged to manage iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. At the time, they were a strong complement to system management tools such as Microsoft SCCM (previously known as SMS).
Over time, though, organizations began using devices on a variety of operating systems. As the devices diversified, the management solutions had to evolve in kind. These device management solutions then began to expand to include Mac®, Windows®, and even Linux® devices.
For a time, many of these MDM solutions required IT admins and MSPs to set up on-premises servers to manage and maintain the software themselves.
But this brought limitations that, especially in an increasingly remote-driven world, just don’t work for most organizations. Thus, as with most other IT management software, MDM solutions are now migrating to be hosted in the cloud and delivered as a service.
Top Features of A Hosted MDM Solution
As admins and MSPs embark on their search for an MDM solution, many will try to determine what solution is best for them.
Of course, a hosted MDM solution, at this point, is compulsory, but what other features are critical? Every organization is different, but the list below may help narrow the field and surface core requirements in an MDM solution.
Here are some of the top features admins and MSPs should consider.
Cloud Hosted With a SaaS Model
The technology you use to manage all tools and devices shouldn’t be limited to a building — especially when those devices aren’t limited to a building.
Using a cloud-based tool ensures that your teams and technology aren’t limited to a specific location for secure MDM.
End users know what the right solutions are to get their jobs done. IT teams that can support a variety of tools — regardless of vendor or platform — are better able to support their organizations.
And a happier, more productive team is an indicator that IT admins are doing things well.
That’s why IT admins need an MDM tool that can help support the tech your team needs. Look for a cross platform, multi-protocol, provider agnostic, and location independent tool to ensure you’re not limited.
Mobile devices, by definition, mean that work can be done from anywhere. This norm has led to an era filled with domainless enterprises, which use a decentralized IT model that allows users to securely access their IT resources from wherever they may be.
With this big change to how people work, mobile device management is critical for organizational security. Your organization’s mobile devices need everything that on-prem devices would, like:
- Password complexity
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA/2FA)
- Encryption of data in transit and at rest
- Network segmentation and secure network authentication
- SSH key management
- Repeatable user provisioning and deprovisioning processes
When IT admins need to ensure employee devices meet their organization’s device configuration and security specifications, your MDM feature must deliver an efficient experience for you and end users.
When considering an MDM, make sure to look into what configuration management is available at onboarding and over the course of the user’s employment. You want to look for something that can fit all use cases for your team, and you could likely benefit from being able to create groups with custom configuration settings.
Software Installation and Patching
Installing and patching software can be highly manual or entirely automated. This is true for all device management but is especially important for mobile device management, when the IT team is almost never in the same room as the end users or devices.
A cloud MDM solution with automated processes for patch management will ensure your IT team doesn’t get bogged down by the countless regular updates that are essential for device security.
Zero Touch Deployment
Zero-touch describes the transformation of what has historically been a highly manual IT process into a fully automated workflow. Preparing macOS devices for employees can be tedious and time-consuming for IT admins.
But zero-touch deployments eliminate the commodity workload associated with preparing and configuring machines for end users. Admins reduce their time investment while simultaneously delighting their new employees by leveraging an MDM with zero-touch capabilities.
System Telemetry and Data
Insight into hardware and software configurations, usage, and connections can all help IT teams ensure users are following protocols to ultimately ensure security and reduce inefficiencies.
Look for an MDM solution that allows you to dig into these important data points and even export the data to manipulate it to see what’s most important to your organization.
The final feature we’ll cover is perhaps one of the most important: user management. User management gives admins the ability to control user access, plus onboard and offboard users to and from IT resources.
With mobile device management, this needs to be a remote process, so a tool that can manage users no matter where they are is essential.
Next Steps in Finding a Hosted MDM Solution
There are now a wide range and types of MDM solutions on the market. Some are highly specific and niche oriented — for example, those that focus just on Apple devices. Others are broader and embedded into identity management platforms.
What works for your organization will likely be unique. But if you’re ready to try out a tool that fits all of the requirements we just talked about, JumpCloud might be the answer for you. It’s a cloud directory platform that includes mobile device management features to keep all of your IT solutions centralized.
If you like to try before you buy, check out JumpCloud Free. Add up to 10 users and 10 devices, without ever having to get out your credit card. Try out a better mobile device management today.