Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs are currently helping 95% of organizations mobilize their workforce. End-users demand access to company data from a variety of endpoints, and MDM has been filling that need, though there are still challenges.
GDPR & CCPA
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) emphasizes the rights of citizens to privacy, and this focus on privacy has raised questions about MDM. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and NYShield Act are raising the same questions now in the US. MDM is intrusive which has caught the attention of regulators, privacy advocates, and others.
Traditional MDM requires the end-user (i.e. the phone/device’s true owner) to cede certain rights and privileges over their devices to the company before the company data can traverses the device. Users are reluctantly willing to allow this intrusion into their rights for their own convenience, but there are signs this willingness is waning.
MDM/BYOD has been scrutinized by watchdog groups in the EU, and privacy advocates everywhere else. Users have also voiced concerns about the strict rules they have to follow on their devices. Critics point out that MDM solutions are intrusive, because personal information on the device can be seen and controlled by the company. For some users this is uncomfortable; for others it can be terrifying.
Many MDM solutions are also heavy handed; they demand strict security settings, police apps, deny web traffic, and intrude on user experiences in other ways. All of this creates a love/hate relationship with MDM solutions where users continue to appreciate the convenience of the BYOD officescape, but still bristle at the idea of having to forfeit their control.
Why VMI is a Better Option
Virtual Mobile Infrastructures (VMIs) are the next generation of BYOD solutions which are going to address these issues. These lightweight solutions are privacy-law friendly, and allow the user full autonomy over their devices and privacy without sacrificing security. VMIs are more secure than MDM solutions because the data never traverses the device itself. Instead, all of the data is viewed remotely as pixels and remains safely within the organization’s digital perimeter. This means that, if devices are ever lost or compromised, access can be terminated without leaving a trace.
MDM solutions are also not perfect at protecting the data they were designed to protect. Once the data is moved to the device, it becomes harder, or impossible, to fully control it. In order to control this data loss vector, MDM solutions have become even more draconian. Alternatively, VMI solutions simply keep the data off the device.
Adding even further frustration to the MDM struggles is the diversification of end-user platforms. The market is expanding across Apple, Google, Android, Samsung, and other providers, with a widely expanding vocabulary of devices being pressed into use. MDM has not kept pace with this widening vocabulary, as each platform offers its own set of challenges. Certainly there is an MDM for every device, but IT departments do not want to manage multiple MDM platforms in an effort to cover all endpoints. VMI solutions, meanwhile, need little more than an internet connection to offer secure services on a wide array of platforms.
The era of MDM is coming to a close, and VMI is the inevitable successor.