This week we’re looking at another one of the most prominent mobile device management vendors out there, AirWatch. Their solution not only includes MDM, but also mobile application management, an SDK, and a mobile information management solution.
Airwatch is one of the largest MDM vendors out there, with around 500 employees and 2000 customers. They were founded in 2003, so with that time they’ve been able to develop a comprehensive MDM solution with a huge list of features. For starters, AirWatch can manage iOS, Android, Blackberry, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone devices; deployment options are as SaaS (since 2009), on-premise software, or as an appliance; AirWatch can integrate with Active Directory and can use LDAP. The feature list doesn’t end there: Airwatch supports multi-tenant architecture, for MSPs or organisations that are large enough to want to manage different divisions independently, and different management roles can be created with varying levels of control over users and devices.
The mobile application management features include the expected granular levels of access for users and custom corporate app stores, in addition to the ability to push apps (something that’s available with any solution that places a configuration profile on a device) and whitelist or blacklist apps. The enterprise app stores can point users to public app stores, and in the case of the Apple App Store, the AirWatch platform can track usage of Volume Purchase Program licenses. (Ordinarily this can be a little bit cumbersome, because with the VPP Apple essential just gives organizations a spreadsheet of redeemable codes that they have to keep track of on their own.) Also available is an SDK for integrating in-house applications more tightly with the application management features.
The mobile information management feature is more in line with an enterprise document management system than a Dropbox-like file-syncing service. Organizations could always choose to blacklist Dropbox or other file-syncing services, but as we’ve discussed on this website before (article from Gabe | article from me), organizations have never been in complete control of employee-created data in the first place. Having a way to access corporate data on mobile devices—even if it’s not as ubiquitous as Dropbox or other file syncing services—ensures that users at least have the option of having corporate documents on a mobile device in a compliant way. AirWatch calls their product Mobile Content Management, and it costs extra beyond the base price of the MDM and MAM components.
AirWatch also includes a range of reporting capabilities and compatibility with business intelligence tools.
As with any MDM product, users’ willingness to entrust personal devices to IT management depends on how the solution is implemented and the overall level of IT goodwill floating around at the company. AirWatch’s granular management roles could ensure, for example, that front-line support staff can’t view what applications are installed on a personal device. Having pre-defined rules and configurations for different types of devices—combined with a self-service portal—means that users at organizations that choose to manage BYOD with MDM will be able to easily enroll their devices.
This feature overview will be updated from time to time. If you notice any inaccuracies, please comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are a lot of vendors and features to keep track of, and I want to be sure and keep everything straight.
- Platform Android, iOS, BlackBerry
- Architecture MDM
- Split plans/phone numbers no
- Deployment Cloud-based SaaS, software, or appliance
- MDM capabilities yes
- AD integration yes
- MIM capabilities yes
- MAM capabilities yes, app sources include public apps as well as apps uploaded as packages
- Controls EAS access yes