Amtel’s Free iOS Management Solution Proves Sometimes You Get What You Pay For

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The consumerization of IT along with the growing trend of BYOD programs in business is requiring virtually all companies to at least look at mobile device management (MDM) solutions. There are dozens of MDM vendors out there that support iOS as well as most flavors of Android. The cost and complexity of implementing mobile management can vary widely depending on the extended feature sets of MDM products.

Until now, most MDM vendors offered enterprise-style licensing programs and there were very few low cost cost options. That changed this morning with Amtel’s announcement that it will be offering a free cloud-based MDM solution that supports a basic set or features for iPhones, iPads, and some Android devices.

Amtel’s new Free Business MDM offers only a core subset of traditional MDM capabilities, most of which can already be achieved with the ActiveSync capabilities of Microsoft Exchange (and third-party solutions that mimic Exchange functionality). The service is based around Amtel’s existing enterprise MDM product, which is a cloud-based solution that can be integrated with Active Directory using an optional gateway module.

The policies available in the free service include:

  • Setting mobile device passcode policies
  • Reporting which apps are installed on managed devices
  • Detecting and reporting of devices that have been jailbroken or rooted
  • Basic device inventory and stats (including identifying such the device’s IMEI number and hardware specs)
  • Ability to enroll corporate and BYOD devices

While that list may sound a bit impressive, it really isn’t much more than businesses have been able accomplish with Exchange alone for more than three years. The list of features doesn’t even include remote wii of lost/stolen devices, which is a shocking omission considering what a core requirement that capability is to every organization – and it is supported by Exchange alone.

The reporting and inventory capabilities do go beyond what Exchange offers and there is some value to that – particularly for organizations include app install/use as part of their acceptable use policy for company-owned devices. The ability to detect jailbroken devices is also helpful. There is some value to offering enrollment services.  That would be a bigger plus if it meant enrolling devices in a system with a stronger features.

For most companies, however, the list of capabilities is so limited that it can’t seem pointless. It seems very clear that this service is predominantly a vehicle to encourage sales of Amtel’s premium offerings. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’re going to operate a freenium model, you should at least offer a better collection of MDM basics as well as at least one or two killer must-have features.