Mobile Device Management: Buyer's Guide: Page 2

With employees carrying Androids and iPhones along with Blackberries, a good cross-platform mobile device management solution is paramount.
Posted October 18, 2011

Jeff Vance

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4. How much control will you have over mobile apps?

HeartSmartKids helps medical clinics and communities detect early cardiovascular problems in children. Its key diagnostic tool is the Smart Heart Cart, a touchscreen system that helps doctors, nurses, parent and even the children themselves pinpoint risks, identify problematic behaviors and plan for a healthier lifestyle.

Based in Colorado, many Smart Heart Carts are located in rural mountain towns, leaving HeartSmartKids’ IT staff with few ways to control and update the devices. The carts used to be based on touchscreen kiosks, similar to the POS systems used in restaurants, with the typical device costing about $1,000.

Kevin Gilbert, founder and CEO of HeartSmartKids, figured that his organization could cut costs simply by switching to iPads. Controlling a bunch of iPads in remote locations was a more difficult challenge than controlling kiosks, though.

“We needed a solution that would keep all of our devices identical and up to date, while also blocking certain activities, such as downloading games, and preventing someone from walking off with our new iPad,” Gilbert said.

After trying out both AirWatch and Silverback, HeartSmartKids selected the MDM suite from Trellia. The Trellia solution gives HeartSmartKids the ability to track the devices, push out OTA updates, perform configuration changes remotely, block apps from downloading and remotely lock or wipe devices.

“Now, we know what exactly is on every machine. At locations where it’s difficult to work with the clinic’s IT staff, we just add a cellular connection so we can remotely control the device without having to jump through hoops to enter their network,” Gilbert said.

After deploying Trellia MDM, Gilbert notes that Smart Heart system is much more mobile, no longer tethered to a specific clinic and network. This opens up new use cases, such as offering Smart Heart iPads to YMCA after-school programs, where the devices can be shared among a number of different sites.

5. What happens if the vendor is acquired by or merges with another company?

In a space as new and as rapidly changing as the MDM market, it would be foolish to not expect mergers, acquisitions and failures. While not as drastic as a business failure, mergers and acquisitions can be difficult to navigate. The customer support rep you had on speed dial may now be buried behind a help-desk maze.

Not long after Newell Rubbermaid selected Trust Digital’s MDM solution, Trust Digital was acquired by McAfee. One of the reasons Newell Rubbermaid had selected Trust Digital over such competitors as MobileIron, Good Technology and SAP was that they considered Trust an MDM innovator. Yet once acquired, a thought leader can get lost in the million and one other products the global conglomerate offers.

“There were some growing pains, especially support-wise,” Mathew Frehner, an IT Leader for Newell Rubbermaid admitted.

“We had been very close with Trust, and their support was great. It took a little time for McAfee to come up to speed and figure out how to route questions to the appropriate person. To be fair, I’m sure if some other vendor had acquired Trust, we’d have had the same issues.”

Frehner didn’t think the growing pains would have driven him to another vendor had he known about the acquisition ahead of time, but it’s something he cautioned others to be aware of.

Pretty much everyone I talked to touted the customer support of their chosen MDM vendor. It’s naïve to expect that the close-knit, bend-over-backwards customer support you get from a startup will always be there, however, acquisition or not.

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Tags: mobile, buyer's guide, mobile device management, MDM

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