Breaking Down the Barriers to Mobile Device Management

Delivering a Secure, Productive User Workspace on any Device

GUEST COLUMN | by Peter terSteeg

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is rapidly becoming an industry standard, both from the standpoint of the enterprise IT and the end user. The enterprise offers choice and inherently saves money on the equipment it does not have to provide to the end user. End users can work on their own Android, iPhone, iPad, MacBook, or other device anytime, anywhere they are.

While the popularity of BYOD means more users are productive and happy, IT departments are struggling with the added complexity that arises from the way traditional mobile device management (MDM) tools integrate non-traditional devices into a Microsoft environment.

Traditional MDM tools can help IT control the devices accessing a network, but they lack the ability to integrate hardware and software inventory into one database and console, which is the type of management environment needed to accommodate today’s diverse virtual offices and continually evolving user needs. As a result, these limitations often mean increased problems with access and support, along with heightened security risks that concern both the enterprise and end-users, alike.

To manage non-traditional devices seamlessly, efficiently and securely, IT must be able to integrate them directly into the existing management platforms that hold user data. We have worked to bring this capability to colleges and universities as part of an overarching User Workspace Management (UWM) strategy. Building on this UWM strategy, we have recently updated the MDM suite to empower organizations to provide users with a truly valuable and secure extension of their office environment by seamlessly managing Microsoft-based and non-traditional devices, data and applications.

The best solutions support Android, iPad, and iPhone devices, as well as Macs, by extending Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager capabilities to over 120 non-Microsoft platforms. With direct integration into System Center Configuration Manager, there are solutions that enable organizations to streamline data access while leveraging a single pane of glass to simplify management and security. IT can manage smartphones and tablet devices through complete inventory, remote commands, and configuration. Support such as that from Quest MDM also extends to virtual desktop environments with solutions that help address the goals of organizational BYOD initiatives by delivering line-of-business Windows applications to tablet devices.

MDM solutions extend native Microsoft support to Apple products, with enhanced management capabilities that simplify their operation with corporate applications and data. Detailed control and management features will inventory, report on and distribute applications and updates to Apple devices, and selective lock and wipe capabilities keep the organization secure in the event a device is lost. It also allows enterprise IT to quickly re-provision a Mac laptop back to the original corporate standard via our OS deployment functionality.

Drake University’s recent experience in integrating Apple products used by students, faculty and staff into its Microsoft environment provides a good illustration of a successful deployment of modern MDM solutions. Drake University is a private, fully accredited, coeducational university in Des Moines, Iowa with more than 3,500 undergraduates and more than 2,100 graduate students. The university recently determined there was a strong need for the student body, faculty and staff to have their Apple products (Mac and iOS) coexist with Active Directory in its environment, which ultimately is managed by Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager.

The university needed a way to integrate these devices into its network without increasing management complexity or creating security risks. Such MDM solutions allowed Drake to immediately benefit from comprehensive, centralized yet simplified management across all hardware and software in its network. One database now stores all data, and one console provides views into the entire network, resulting in significant time savings to perform software updates and ongoing management functions. Audits that used to take 50 hours now take less than five minutes, and the cost and risk associated with licensing compliance are reduced. The university also expects to save thousands of dollars in hardware refreshes each year.

The BYOD trend is here to stay, and the bottom line is that access, support and data security will continue to be problematic with traditional MDM solutions. Whether you choose Quest MDM solutions or those offered by another vendor, the bottom line is that direct, secure integration is the key to breaking down barriers to managing mobile devices, and delivering the new dynamic workspace when and where users require, at the level of security corporations demand.


Peter terSteeg has worked at Quest Software for more than 10 years, focusing on Microsoft Exchange and System Center.  He is a director in the Unified Communications Workspace division.  He focuses on customer accounts from 10,000 to 350,000 users at Fortune 500 and government organizations. Peter has spoken at various industry events with a focus on e-mail management, migration and archiving and is a contributor to’s “Ask the Expert’s” section. @UCPeter (twitter)


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