Is There a System-Agnostic MDM Alternative?

Written by Stephanie DeCamp on April 17, 2020

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Mobile device management (MDM) is becoming more and more necessary in today’s workplace. Whether or not you have a formal bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, chances are your end users are checking their work email from their smartphone or managing documents on a tablet or laptop over the weekend.

In fact, research suggests that cyberattacks on smartphones and other mobile devices increased by 50% in the first half of 2019 alone. Fortunately, in the majority of cases, MDMs are capable of stopping many (if not most) attacks.

So why would you need an alternative? The question stems from the lack of system-agnostic capabilities: many MDM tools only work with specific categories (like smartphones or laptops) or operating systems (like macOS®). This can result in one business needing two or three different MDMs to cover all of their devices.

Figuring out what to do about this can be a challenge for many admins, so today we’re diving into how MDMs work and what they can control, as well as how a system-agnostic approach can be achieved with the right kind of supplementation.

What are MDMs?

With the introduction of iPhones® and the subsequent increase in other smartphones to the workplace, IT admins had to figure out how to manage, control, and secure the company information housed on them. This is where mobile device management began, and it continues to expand dramatically.

MDMs first require an agent to be installed on the employee’s device, which can then be identified based on serial number, associated user, or device name (depending on the MDM and the organization’s needs). IT admins then use that MDM to deploy configuration settings and execute other commands.

Some MDMs are fairly basic and control only the most necessary security features, while others can do many things. These can include include:

  • Adding security requirements for passwords
  • Controlling basic settings like locking the screen
  • Deciding which apps can and can’t be installed on it
  • Tracking a device’s location
  • Remotely wiping a compromised device
  • Forcing updates
  • Encrypting data

As mentioned above, generally only one MDM can be used on any one operating system — and not just for iPhones and Androids®, but laptops running on macOS, Windows®, and Linux® as well.

Is There a System-Agnostic Alternative?

The short answer is that as of now, there isn’t one, all-inclusive MDM solution. But the good news is that there are ways to get complete coverage for all of your devices. This approach comprehensively combines your directory services, identity and access management, and mobile device management through one, centralized platform.

Directory-as-a-Service Could Be the Answer

JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® covers system management across Windows, Mac, and Linux systems, and does so by working with MDMs instead of outside of them.

JumpCloud is a cloud-based solution that works in tandem with MDMs to give you a complete, secure method of coverage for all of your machines and devices. This is because both solutions have features that complement the other: an MDM allows admins to control the settings on smartphones, while JumpCloud controls the user identity and system access of laptops and desktops to wireless networks, files, applications, and cloud infrastructure. Plus, if you’re currently looking to upgrade your legacy services, it can even replace Active Directory altogether.

This means that instead of employing a number of solutions for SSO, RADIUS network access, and GPO-like policies, you can simply invest in one solution to manage it all. Between an MDM and a system-agnostic Directory-as-a-Service, you can save time and money while being sure that your data is secure — no matter where it happens to be.

Learn More

To learn more about the ways that you can use JumpCloud with an MDM to improve your security posture, we suggest this article on the benefits of MDMs and JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service. You can also reach out with any questions, or for more information.

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