Top Mobile Device Management Companies

BYOD (bring your own device) to work is fast on the way out. There are too many security pitfalls and risks for an enterprise to endure. It's better to invest in a mobile device management system that can handle all devices a company hands out to its employees plus those random rebels who keep wanting to do things their own way--before they get fired.

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As companies grow their employee ranks and spread out to larger geographical and market spaces, they are eventually going to need some sort of mobile device management software to control and protect company data, wherever it exists. The fact is, more employees are now doing some sort of business on their smartphones, laptops and tablet PCs, putting business data in more danger of getting lost or intercepted by people who shouldn’t have the data in the first place.

On top of that, many employees still bring their own devices to work with them, largely because it’s more convenient and they know all the shortcuts. How does an enterprise handle this, and what sort of management platform should it invest in?

There are about 100 reputable software companies that offer mobile device management platforms—some are expert in serving large corporations; some, midrange; and others, smaller companies. One has to take security into account as well. Enterprises that handle government or military information, health or financial records, or other highly classified data are likely to look for security-heavy solutions, such as Cisco Systems, MobileIron or IBM. Smaller companies with much less-sensitive data and do not require such heavy-lifting security have many more options at their disposal.

It’s up to a company’s CTO or mobile device manager to do his/her homework and see which one will provide the appropriate service for that particular enterprise. Here are eWEEK’s top mobile device management vendors in 2019.

Intune Enterprise Mobility+Security by Microsoft

Redmond, Wash.

Value proposition for potential buyers: A growing number of users believe that the best mobile device management software available today is Intune Enterprise Mobility+Security, largely because of its versatility and connection to Microsoft Office 365, the biggest-selling business app in the world. This product can be used as a stand-alone application or as part of a mobility and security package. Its features centrally and securely manage apps and data across all company devices, data center and the cloud. As eWEEK has often written, versatility (also called agility) as a key selling point for software becomes increasingly important as each year goes by.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Agility: Integration and adoption methodologies provided by Microsoft are robust.
  • Support: Microsoft offers operational guidance and best practices that make the product experience much better.
  • Reputation: Microsoft is a standard in virtually all IT departments; its reputation generally is that of a company that is solid, dependable and reputable while not being the most innovative.

Use cases:

  • Protects on-premises email and data so that it can be accessed by mobile devices
  • Protects Office 365 mail and data so that it can be safely accessed by mobile devices
  • Issues corporate-owned phones to your workforce
  • Offers a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) or personal device program to all employees
  • Enables employees to securely access Office 365 from an unmanaged public kiosk
  • Issues limited-use shared tablets to your task workers

Who uses it: SMBs, midrange and large enterprises; IT and mobile device admins use it.
How it works: subscription cloud service, physical on-device software available
eWEEK score: 4.8/5.0

Read user reviews of Intune Enterprise Mobility+Security by Microsoft

VMware AirWatch

Atlanta

Value proposition for potential buyers: AirWatch was its own thriving business before being acquired by VMware in 2014 for $1.5 billion; since then, it has grown its overall market value and its market scope, thanks largely to VMware’s prodigious worldwide presence in the IT industry. It is considered one of the better intelligent device hubs for an enterprise in the market, and for good reason: It offers complete control of all devices in the system as well as full visibility into the security and overall “health” of enterprise mobile devices.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Versatility: AirWatch is compatible with almost any device, so keeping track of large-scale deployments can be very easy.
  • Management power: Not only is it an excellent device manager, it also indexes every bit of information about each device, making it easy to find device information.
  • Additional advantages: Having AirWatch in a technological environment allows users to track mobile devices used for operations as well as employees’ company-issued cell phones. Users often will get requests to add WiFi passwords or applications over the phone, which would require a technician to walk the end user through installing applications or inputting WiFi credentials. With AirWatch, users are able to put devices into groups, where settings can be preconfigured and the way devices are given out streamlined. This saves time when issuing new devices and sticking to device policies.

To Take Under Advisement:

  • A drawback to AirWatch may be its support. Help desk people are effective when you get them on the phone, but getting them on the phone is the hard part. AirWatch, naturally, is not alone in this.

Who uses it: Midrange and large enterprises; IT and mobile device managers use it.
How it works: subscription cloud service, physical on-devices services
eWEEK score: 4.9/5.0

Read user reviews of VMware AirWatch

MobileIron EMM

Mountain View, Calif.

Value proposition for potential buyers: MobileIron has been one of the top three or four leaders in the mobile device management market for several years. It is well-known for its tough security hide. The platform was purpose-built to secure and manage mobile apps, content and devices for global companies, although it also works well for companies of 100 employees or fewer. It provides a relatively easy way to manage a business's mobile devices while also enabling work email integration and application management. It is available as an on-premises or a cloud solution. MobileIron was the first to deliver key innovations in the space, such as multi-OS mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM) and BYOD privacy controls.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Versatile: Handles mobile device management, email and application management at the same time and can be managed through a single control point.
  • Secure: MobileIron is one of the toughest nuts to crack for hackers.
  • Easy-to-read UI: The dashboard is self-explanatory, and it provides many different ways to view the device management data. IT managers will love this; metrics to view include Device by Status, Device by Compliance, OS Type, OS Version, Roaming, Device by Owner, Device by Operator, Last Check-Ins and others. You can look up devices by device type, user and various other metrics.
  • Excellent management metrics: MobileIron offers a user-friendly way to track, analyze, implement and provide users with a quick and easy way to manage their business email. This also is a great way to send automated app pushes, such as other business/security applications.

To Take Under Advisement:

  • Passcode feature can be problematic: MobileIron requires users to change passcodes frequently, and this is an annoyance. It is a best-practices security measure, but it still is a pain in the neck sometimes. For example, if a user tries too many times to enter a password incorrectly, it is possible that the phone will be remotely wiped. While this is helpful if the device is stolen, it has yet to be successful outside of them doing it by mistake.

Who uses it: SMBs to large enterprises
How it works: subscription cloud services and physical on-device version as needed
eWEEK score: 4.8/5.0

Read user reviews of MobileIron EMM

Cisco Meraki

San Francisco

Value proposition for potential buyers: Meraki was tailor-made for Cisco Systems, the world’s largest IT networking product and service provider, which really didn’t have a mobile platform until it acquired Meraki in 2012. Meraki offers Cisco-based, cloud-controlled WiFi and routing and security products for distributed wired and wireless networks. Cisco Meraki also includes a portfolio of wireless LAN, switching, security appliances and mobile device management, all centrally managed from the cloud.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Fast performance: Cisco Meraki Systems Manager is considered excellent in terms of performance. It can easily handle the traffic in the network of a 300-400 user base, and it can manage all the users without downtime. Its exceptional performance allows users to implement other solutions to better service customers.
  • Versatility: Because Cisco products are reliable and user-friendly, users can implement any kind of setup. For example, they can set up for a geographical location; they can make it so users access the network easily and securely when they are in and outside the office. 
  • Little or no downtime: Generally, users experience no breakdowns and no downtime; all the user readings are exact, and it gives them quick analysis so they can apply security measures.
  • Cisco backing: This is huge as far as operating globally, and Cisco offers this distribution system.

To Take Under Advisement:

  • Because Cisco has updated its products a great deal and is competing with other technologies that are innovative and brand new to the market, the only improvements it has to make is to keep up with the current competition and remain competitive with other solutions.

Who uses it: Midrange and large enterprises; security and device admins use it.
How it works: subscription cloud services, physical on-premises services
eWEEK score: 4.8/5.0

Read user reviews of Cisco Meraki

IBM MaaS360

Blue Bell, Pa.

Value proposition for potential buyers: MaaS360, which has had a lot of experience in mobile device control since its founding in 1991, is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product that focuses on providing businesses with services and technology solutions to protect and manage corporate data on mobile devices. This includes smartphones, laptops and tablets. It manages BYOD and corporate devices, applications and content.

MaaS360, which IBM bought in 2013 for $375 million, also offers mobile collaboration, laptop and ruggedized device management, and mobile expense management solutions. Its security solutions include mobile threat and identity management, mobile cloud and application security, and email and website security. It also enables its users to separate their work from their personal data.

Key values/differentiators:

  • IBM added Watson artificial intelligence to MaaS360 in 2018 for a major market advantage.
  • Built-in inventory manager makes it easy to track devices and measure data usage. This also has been helpful to users in choosing the right data plan.
  • User Interfaces are easy to navigate.
  • Online chat support is rated excellent, as it is for many other IBM products.
  • Features include accurate location tracking, something lacking in many competitors.

To Take Under Advisement:

  • Could use some more flexibility in user management, such as being able to delete users and edit corporate identifiers. This won’t affect all users, however.

Who uses it: SMBs, midrange and large enterprises; designed for IT managers and mobile device managers
How it works: subscription cloud services, physical on-premises and device services
eWEEK score: 4.7/5.0

Read user reviews of IBM MaaS360

Jamf Pro

Minneapolis

Value proposition for potential buyers: Jamf is the one company on this list that specializes only in Apple products, so look elsewhere if your company uses Windows or Linux devices. The company prides itself on being the world market leader in macOS,  iOS and tvOS device management and has offices around the world to serve its more than 30,000 customers managing 14 million devices. Jamf delivers support and services for Apple management needs in education and business.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Asset management: Key features include asset management and application/patch management. Users can set policies to manage devices by many variables or keep it simple by using DEP to assign new devices the standard apps.
  • Use cases: For Apple iOS, macOS and tvOS devices only.
  • Good for large companies with lots of devices: It’s a useful tool for a larger organization to manage its Apple devices. Jamf has improved the function by bringing support to unknown devices.
  • Very scalable: This is usually a major advantage, but oddly enough, Jamf may be too scalable for an entry-level technician, which is why it created Jamf Now, an MDM solution made for SMBs without dedicated IT support. This is because the ability to deploy to everyone is easy if the admin was careful to restrict abilities.
  • Other features: Custom trigger policies for client device configuration are available; users can set up LDAP and use JAMF APIs to create their own iOS apps.

To Take Under Advisement:

  • While Apple doesn’t support blocking OS updates outright, it would be great if Jamf could find a way to provide this functionality to customers. In current state, Jamf allows customers to deploy upgrades for up to 90 days for macOS, iOS and tvOS. Software update management is an important workflow. Jamf offers a limited set of titles as a part of the Patch Management feature. Customers may need to create their own patch definitions for software not monitored by Jamf.
  • Jamf does not offer a robust dashboard out of the box. Reports are available via download or email, however they need to be created manually. Third party integrations are required to display more robust dashboards and reports.

Who uses it: SMBs up to the largest enterprises; IT and device managers; key verticals are education and general business
How it works: Options for subscription cloud services, on-device software
eWEEK score: 4.8/5.0

Read user reviews of Jamf Pro

Zoho ManageEngine Mobile Device Manager Plus

Pleasanton, Calif.

Value proposition for potential buyers: Zoho is a multi-market IT products and services provider that is particularly good at software and device management, including mobile device management. The company is intentional about focusing on the midrange company market and has become a leader in that sector.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Use cases: Designed for managing all types of devices, including Windows and iOS devices. Can be used for mobile sales teams, retail employees and health care workers.
  • Options: ManageEngine MDM Plus provides users with a number of optional features; admins can set up groups/profiles/apps for different types of users and automate as much as possible for minimal user interaction.
  • Fast updates: Being able to force iOS updates is a huge plus, because it has always been the weak point for end users. For the features and amount of seats you get for the price you pay, it is a great value.
  • Support: This is indicative of the personalized service provided by ManageEngine: Users start the trial to get everything set up and tested. If more time is needed, ManageEngine will authorize up to an additional 15 days to get the system fully tested and utilized. Few other vendors will allow something like that.

Who uses it: Midrange enterprises; used by IT managers, device admins
How it works: Options for subscription cloud services, on-device software
eWEEK score: 4.7/5.0

Read user reviews of Zoho ManageEngine Mobile Device Manger Plus

SAP Mobile Secure

Palo Alto, Calif.

Value proposition for potential buyers: SAP’s enterprise-quality mobile management and security portfolio, called Mobile Secure, enables control of diverse mobile devices while safeguarding corporate information with a strong, multilevel security approach. The platform is designed to centrify all device-control functionality and security so that IT doesn’t have to juggle numerous point solutions. SAP Mobile Service for app and device management is a leading cloud-based enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution that integrates MDM, MAM, mobile app security and mobile content management (MCM). It optimizes the mobile experience for users and protects the organization by sealing the vulnerable entry points: devices, apps and content.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Online portal for 24/7 use available: This is highly extensive and easy to use. Before contacting support, users are equipped with numerous easy-to-read and easy-to-follow guides and a wealth of knowledge online.
  • Clear and easy implementation: Platform has highly valued support and extensive support guides.
  • International support: SAP, as a global software provider, is able to provide products and support on all continents.
  • Use cases: Can be used by most verticals, including manufacturing, retail, health care, sales teams and remote offices.

To Take Under Advisement:

  • Take time to learn the application from the bottom up, because it is easy to miss useful features due to there being so many available.

Who uses it: Large enterprises; IT admins and device managers
How it works: subscription cloud services, on-device software
eWEEK score: 4.8/5.0

Read user reviews of SAP Mobile Secure

Parallels Remote Application Server

Seattle

Value proposition for potential buyers: Parallels is best known for its device-based platform that enables the integration of Windows and Apple macOS operating systems to produce documents. The company also has one of the more established mobile management systems, having been on the market for more than 15 years. Companies use RAS to connect a remote office with in-house workers and remote workers at home; it also will connect remote workers over a VPN to a company´s network. Employees can plug into a local ERP system, MS Office and a unified messaging system with their RAS clients on Windows, OS X and even some with their iPad Pro.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Lots of connection options: When a user is not connected directly to the company’s server, he or she can remote into any of the applications that they need to use, even if not at the office.
  • Use cases: Small businesses—even one-person firms—can use Parallels as easily as a midrange or large enterprise or remote office.
  • User-friendly UI: Parallels has a well-liked mobile app that is intuitive and easy to follow.
  • Security: Parallels uses its own multilevel security solution and also partners with users’ security as needed.

Who uses it: Single-person businesses, SMBs to large enterprises
How it works: Options for subscription cloud service, on-device software
eWEEK score: 4.9/5.0

Read user reviews of Parallels Remote Application Server

Honorable mentions: Trend Micro Mobile Security, XenMobile, Absolute Manage MDM, Soti MobiControl, Tangoe Managed Mobility Services, SureMDM, MobiLock Pro, Baramundi Management Suite, Hexnode MDM.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...