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This content is part of the Essential Guide: Evaluating mobile device management products and services
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Top questions to ask mobile device management vendors

With so many mobile device management vendors and products in the marketplace, choosing one to use in your enterprise can be a challenge. Check out these 13 vendor questions that will help make the evaluation process easier.

Once an enterprise has an understanding of different mobile mobile device management technologies as well as its...

own business needs, , it's time to formulate a list of questions to ask potential mobile device management vendors and service providers. Below is a starter list of questions that all organizations should consider including in their mobile device management (MDM) request for proposal.

1. What mobile device operating systems and versions can your product manage? Does your product support any OEM extensions? Do you require or offer agent applications installed on managed devices?

2. Which of the following deployment models do you support: on-premise appliance, on-premise software, hosted software or software as a service? Do you offer any separately priced packages or service tiers?

3. Can your product integrate with enterprise infrastructure elements (e.g., Active Directory, RADIUS server, certificate authority, mail server/Enterprise Archive Solution, WLAN, VPN or other management systems)?

4. Does your product support mobile inventory management (e.g., device enrollment, asset tracking, reporting, auditing)? Describe this module and identify features (e.g., self-enrollment, directory integration, backup/restore).

5. Does your product support mobile device policy management (e.g., define, provision, maintain, enforce policies)? Describe this module and identify features (e.g., acceptance criteria, group/location policies, compliance checks, enforcement actions).

6. Does your product support mobile security management (e.g., configure/enforce native or third-party security controls, check integrity, detect compromises)? Describe this module and identify features (e.g. access control, data encryption, secure connectivity, restrictions, jailbreak detection).

7. How does your product deliver monitoring, reporting and troubleshooting (e.g., real-time status, alerts, logs, location, diagnostic tools)? Describe this module and identify features (e.g., custom dashboard, custom/canned reports, self-help portal, remote control).

8. Does your product support mobile expense management (e.g., budget, connection, usage policies)? Describe this module and identify features (e.g., roaming restrictions, analytics, expense reporting) .

9. Does your product support mobile application management (e.g., app upload, install, maintain, removal/disablement)? Describe this module and identify features (e.g., enterprise app store, licensing).

10. Does your product support mobile document management (e.g., deploy, secure, synchronize business docs)? Describe this module and identify features (e.g., integration, offline access, security).

11. Does your product support containerization (e.g., configure/monitor/wipe or encrypted storage)? Describe this module and identify features (e.g., cipher/key length, data leak prevention, dual persona).

12. Does your product offer features that cater to bring your own devices (e.g., redirection to enrollment portal, acceptable use policies, flexible privacy settings, lightweight management)?

13. Does your product include or offer advanced mobile security features beyond those already described (e.g., embedded VPN, antimalware, two-factor authentication, secure browser)?

These are just suggestions, however. You can refine these questions to reflect your business requirements by drilling down into capabilities that are a top priority for your mobile workforce. Create use cases that reflect your mobility management needs and ask providers to detail how their products or services would address each case.

About the author:
Lisa Phifer owns and is president of Core Competence Inc., a consulting firm specializing in leading-edge network technology. She has been involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of networking and security products for over 25 years. She has advised companies large and small regarding needs, product assessment and the use of emerging technologies and best practices.

Next Steps

Read the seven things Gartner suggests looking for in an MDM product, as well as seven categories for evaluating MDM technologies.

This was last published in October 2014

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What questions would your enterprise ask potential mobile device management vendors?
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We would focus on asking about their support options and ability to change programs to meet our needs. If it'll take weeks to implement a fix or a feature we really need, then I'm not going to be happy - but if they have a demonstrated ability to reply in a timely manner, then there's a much better chance they're going to get my business. 

Second-tier question often include finding out whether or not they can adequately explain a function in one minute or less. I've always preferred vendors who understand the KISS principle and actively seek to implement it.
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