ATandT Extends Cloud-Based MDM Platform to Small Businesses

SMBs looking for a mobile-device-management (MDM) solution have an option in AT&T's expanded cloud-based platform.

Communications giant AT&T announced it is extending its mobile-device-management solution to its small- and midsize-business customers as a growing number of organizations adopt bring-your-own-device initiatives but struggle with securing personal devices and protecting corporate data from security breaches.

Available for businesses with as few as 20 employees, AT&T's mobile-device-management (MDM) solutions make it possible for IT departments to enforce management policies by securing employees' mobile devices and monitoring data usage. The cloud-based platform, managed by AT&T, allows businesses to avoid installing extra hardware to support the service. The company also offers a small-business team that can help SMBs determine and develop mobility policy and strategy, while also providing support in selection, implementation, hosting, and management of an MDM solution.

"Cloud-based MDM solutions are gaining steam as more employees want to use the smartphones and apps they've come to love for both business and personal use," Carrie MacGillivray, IT research firm IDC's analyst and program director for SMB (small- and midsize-business) mobility said in a press statement. "However, small businesses must balance this demand with the need for both flexible and secure mobile-device management. Winning providers fill this niche by focusing on affordable, highly secure solutions designed with small businesses in mind."

The MDM features include lost-device detection, including password recovery, device lock, wipe and encryption, application whitelist/blacklist capabilities to help control how company-owned smartphones are used, remote configuration of email, WiFi and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and application distribution capabilities that allow business owners to push mission-critical apps to their employees. Rounding out the package is a suite of asset-management features designed to help enable business owners to keep track of company-owned devices.

"Small businesses often lack the IT resources to maintain control over dozens of different smartphones and tablets, stretching their time and budget to the limit. That's where AT&T MDM solutions can help, freeing small-business owners to concentrate on doing what they do best-running their companies," Chris Hill, vice president of advanced mobility solutions with AT&T's business and home solutions division said in prepared remarks.

Almost 90 percent of small businesses use smartphones, and more than four in 10 small businesses reported all of their employees use them to work away from the office, a nearly 80 percent jump from the past three years, according to AT&T's recent Small Business Technology Poll, a national survey of small businesses with two to 99 employees. The survey found 85 percent of small businesses used smartphones for their operations, up from 80 percent last year and more than double the usage five years ago.