Open Source MDM: Is It Ideal for Your Business?

Enterprise mobility has been a popular catchphrase for the past few years. It has empowered businesses to tap into newer markets, provide services on the go and maximize their efficiency. To keep up with the dynamically changing corporate landscape, enterprise IT admins are restrategizing their mobility efforts. Considering the central role that mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops have played in making enterprise mobility a success, mobile device management (MDM) adoption is on the rise.

Allowing employees to step outside physical office spaces and work flexibly using their personal devices has immense benefits for businesses. Enterprises can cut back massively on costs spent on renting office spaces. Employees have a greater sense of work satisfaction and flexibility, positively impacting their productivity. Businesses, however, must not turn a blind eye to the growing security risks.

Hackers are aware that a majority of employees are now working remotely using their personal devices. Remotely working employees are more prone to encountering cyber threats, as they are devoid of a well-protected office infrastructure. Simple acts like connecting to public WiFi, browsing untrusted websites and downloading malicious software can lead to corporate data breaches.

MDM solutions are not an option anymore, but a necessity. Despite the evident need for MDM , several businesses shy away from implementing them due to budget restraints. There is a solution for businesses that do not want to invest in MDM solutions but need a platform that can help them secure and manage their endpoints – open source MDMs.

What Is Open Source MDM?

Open source MDM solutions are device and endpoint platforms that are free of cost. Unlike third-party paid MDM solutions, open source MDMs are publicly accessible to anyone. Businesses that are skeptical of implementing MDM solutions can try their hand at open source MDM software before making the move to paid ones. Just like any other open source software, the program of the open source MDM can be viewed, accessed and modified by anyone.

There are innumerable open source MDM tools available that offer diverse device management capabilities to users. They are managed by web-based controllers, are generally easy to integrate into your local systems and have a large knowledge base available due to the large community of users.

Unable to decide whether open source MDMs align with your business needs? Take a look at some pros and cons to better understand the capabilities and challenges of open source MDMs.

Pros of Open Source MDM

The top benefits of implementing open source MDMs are as follows:

  1. They Are Free of Cost

The most evident advantage is that open source MDMs are free of cost. Organizations that have a tight IT budget can make the most of these free solutions. This helps organizations save costs on subscription-based MDMs that have a monthly pricing plan.

  1. Strikes MDM off Your Checklist

At the end of the day, you have an MDM solution to manage your countless devices and endpoints. The growing rate of security risks like malware and phishing attacks raise serious data security concerns for businesses. Having MDM software that can help you to gain visibility of your devices, push security policies and monitor the usage and compliance on the go can be of great advantage.

It also helps businesses to reduce the IT workload by automating redundant tasks like OS and app updates, monitoring compliance alerts, etc. You can push business apps and resources to hundreds and thousands of devices remotely.

  1. Customizable as per Your Needs

Open source MDMs offer a great deal of flexibility. You can customize the open source MDM to add features and capabilities that align with your business requirements. Since they are open source, they are standard and built using well-known programming languages which can sometimes be modified to integrate your favorite tools. IT teams do not have to spend time figuring out the licensing requirements and audit processes.

  1. Large Variety To Choose From

Open source MDMs are readily available, you do not need to scour the earth to find a free MDM. You can compare multiple open source MDM tools and pick the one that offers the maximum features and customizations. If your business wants to prioritize data security policy, you can compare free MDMs and pick the one that offers maximum security features. Similarly, if your business operates with multiple OS types, you can pick free MDMs that support multi-OS device management.

Cons of Open Source MDM

The reason why businesses opt for subscription-based MDM solutions is that open source MDMs have a few limitations.

  1. Tedious Implementation

Unlike third-party MDM software that has an agile customer support team to help you with the setup and any technical issues that may arise in the process, open source MDMs are completely your responsibility. Although you may find the answers to most of your roadblocks given the large community of users, it can get really tedious to implement and constantly troubleshoot, monitor and update the software as per evolving business needs.

Attempting to implement an open source MDM solution right from the scratch involves a long learning curve. IT admins need to go through a lot of trial and error through the device enrollment, policy configuration and monitoring process compared to a third-party solution.

  1. May Lack Critical Features

Modern-day third-party MDM solutions go above and beyond managing just smartphones, tablets and laptops. They offer support for diverse device types including rugged and custom-built devices belonging to diverse ownership types and multi-OSes.

Open source MDM solutions may lack some or many of these high-end functionalities provided by paid solutions. Moreover, an open source MDM may not present all features that your business needs. In other words, the same open source MDM software used by a logistics company may not be of use for a healthcare business. Unless you thoroughly invest your time, money and expertise in modifying the capabilities of the open source MDM software to suit your business needs, you may experience insufficiency at some point.

  1. Prone to Security Risks

Your open source MDM platform requires constant attention and maintenance, without which it may become vulnerable to security risks. The inability to constantly maintain your MDM software may result in performance issues. Unless your IT team proactively maintains and modifies your software, it may present compatibility issues with your endpoints, given the rapidly changing technologies.

  1. On-premise Deployment

Most open source MDMs require an on-premise deployment, meaning that the MDM server is hosted within your office infrastructure. On-premise deployments need a tremendous amount of manpower to set up and are often costly. Given that a majority of the world is shifting toward cloud-based MDMs, implementing a free MDM with on-premise deployment may be questionable.

Time To Make the Choice

By now you must have developed a fair idea of how open source MDMs compare to the paid ones. Ultimately, the choice lies with you. If you are willing to set up an MDM server and take complete responsibility for your free MDM and its maintenance, then open source MDMs might be the right fit for you. However, if your business requires a more sophisticated solution to manage your endpoints and secure your corporate data, then it is best to opt for a third-party MDM solution. Third-party MDMs have a support team available at your beck and call, a transparent and tiered pricing structure, a plethora of powerful features and a constantly maintained platform.

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