AirWatch tackles the mobile device management conundrum head on with an integrated approach that keeps devices secure, while protecting enterprise resources from compromise. The company's claim to fame comes in the form of its laser sharp focus on mobile device security, which takes a holistic approach to assigning, controlling and securing a variety of portable devices.
The company offers an impressive array of support, as well as a portal-based control methodology, which rolls up support, management and control into a one-stop-shop proposition. AirWatch's Mobile Device Management (MDM), as well as its many other products, are available in multiple flavors, including an on-premise, software-based solution, an appliance-based solution and a cloud services-based offering. Choosing which is right for you will come down to budgetary and policy needs. Nevertheless, all flavors offer in-kind functionality.
We were able to test AirWatch's cloud-based offering on some Apple devices, including an iPad, an iPod Touch and an iPhone. Although we focused on iOS-based devices (because that is what AirWatch provided for testing), the company does offer support for numerous platforms, including Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone-powered devices.
Using the company's cloud-based platform eliminates many of the installation and configuration woes that are found with some on-premise solutions. However, there is still a bit of provisioning work that needs to be done before one can dive fully into AirWatch's MDM service.
One can run MDM pretty much on its own, relying solely on the cloud service portal to manage the enrolled devices. That brings up another point: MDM works based on an asset methodology, where devices are enrolled into the service as corporate assets. However, once a device is enrolled, administrators can assign an ownership level to it, such as corporate-dedicated, corporate-shared or employee-owned. That classification process allows administrators to set up varying levels of control, and it supports the rapidly growing BYOD movement.
When it comes to managing devices, we found the dashboard very easy to use, with management controls broken down by views. The product's device-centric approach is very evident here, with default views (or consoles), such as asset tracking, device compliance and telecom-roaming. Additional dashboard-console views are available using a pull-down menu. This allows information to be sorted (or focused on) by user, locations, settings or device.
The product also offers a menu pull-down, which leads to other controls, such as the ability to manage user groups, Active Directory integration, roles, policies and so forth. There are a few surprises here as well, such as the ability to create independent device profiles, which allows users to have granular control of any given device, such as applying restrictions, controlling Wi-Fi settings and applying custom settings.
AirWatch MDM has the expected level of features, including the ability to encrypt information, lock down devices, remotely wipe devices and apply compliance controls.