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New tools let IT admins cut the cord to manage mobile users

John Cox | July 4, 2014
The new release of MobileIron's software for managing mobile devices and data helps IT staff themselves be more mobile and lets management tasks be grouped and segregated to improve privacy and security.

The new release of MobileIron's software for managing mobile devices and data helps IT staff themselves be more mobile and lets management tasks be grouped and segregated to improve privacy and security.

The changes mean that IT staff in charge of mobile deployments no longer are chained to their own desk or laptops: a new app, available on Android or iOS device, now lets administrators access the MobileIron server from anywhere. For large-scale mobile populations, management tasks and responsibilities can be divided up by geography or department, so administrators don't have untrammeled access to all mobile users, apps and data.

 The new mobile app for IT is called Insight, downloaded from the iTunes App Store or Google Play. Once installed, an administrator taps it, fills in the login screen and then sees a "dashboard" or a graphical summary of the enterprise's mobile deployment — the number of active devices, the number out of compliance, roaming devices, or devices by platform or carrier or by ownership (BYOD or corporate-issued devices). In essence, they have access to the main features of the MobileIron management platform as they did from a PC.

 Clicking on a pie chart or other item starts to bring up more and more details, letting administrators drill down, filter, and display "all iOS devices that are roaming" for example. A search function aids administrators in troubleshooting problems, identifying them and fixing them.

 "In the past, an admin had to do this from browser on a desktop PC," says Ojas Rege, vice president of strategy, MobileIron, Mountain View, Calif. "We have 'bubbled up' the most common tasks and put these in the Insight app, to answer the question 'What's the state of my deployment?'"

 The new MobileIron version also creates an IT management hierarchy, which the vendor dubs "Spaces," for mobile deployments. "Endusers want to know that a corporate BYOD policy provides enforceable privacy controls that protect them," says Rege.

 As the name suggests, Spaces lets a company segment and segregate administrative privileges, so that administrators are authorized with specific responsibilities, tasks and access to subsets of mobile users. Devices in the U.S. and in Europe would be handled only by specified local MobileIron administrators for example.

 Spaces also limits that administrators can see on privately-owned devices used for business — they have access only to corporate data and apps, not to a user's private email, photos, and the like.

 Privileges can also be ranked. For example, an admin may have certain access rights to a device in the "Americas" space, but if that device is also in the "BYOD" space which has a higher rank, then stricter access rules associated with BYOD will take precedence.

 

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