Compare 7 iOS Mobile Device Management providers by 90 criteria; now includes BoxTone

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Mobile Device Management is the best way to track, configure, and manage iPads, iPhones and iPod touch devices. Although it is a lot of infrastructure for one or two phones, it becomes a necessity when you are administering more than a dozen or so devices. (Save yourself a lot of trouble and introduce the technology NOW.)

But choosing a provider can be difficult, since at first glance they all seem to do a similar job. This is why we created our Comparison of MDM Providers. We're happy to announce the inclusion of provider BoxTone, thanks to the help of Dan Dearing.

We sincerely hope that our comparison helps you choose between the many fine vendors. The list now includes:

  • 7 providers
  • 21 sections
  • 90 points of comparison

Please send us feedback on ways to improve the comparison.

iPad: One Year

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One year ago today, Steve Jobs announced the iPad. Although it didn't begin shipping until April 3, it became one of the best-selling technology products of the year.

So does your company have plans to deploy the iPad this year? Or have you already got them?

MDM Provider Absolute Manage Fills in our Blanks

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Mobile Device Management provider Absolute Manage has sent updated features for our 74-point Comparison of MDM Providers. Thanks to Absolute's Pam Seale for putting this data together.

She wants me to mention that the chart is current as of MDM 5.3. Absolute is getting an upgrade in mid-February, adding an app catalog and VPP features. We'll update our chart when it ships.

(If you would like an MDM Provider included on the chart, please copy and fill out our MDM Worksheet, even partially. Then E-mail it to me, and I'll add it to the chart.)

Equinux TARMAC gains MDM features

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Equinux has updated TARMAC, it's Mobile Device Management solution for iOS. And they were kind enough to send the worksheet for our Comparison of MDM Providers.

You can find out more about TARMAC on our comparison page or at

Our 74-point Comparison of Mobile Device Management Providers

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You can't manage dozens, hundreds, or thousands of iOS devices without Mobile Device Management. Of the many providers, each provides the same basic features: inventory, mobileconfig, and basic management. So is there a difference among providers?

You betcha. From packaging, licensiing, support, scalability, enrollment and administration, the providers vary significantly. Some only manage mobile devices; others manage desktops. Some are only in the cloud, others are only in your data center.

Today we've re-released our Comparison of MDM Providers to include a full 74 points of reference. We hope it will serve to cut through the hype and help you make smart decisions.

Five vendors are included to start: Absolute Mange, Airwatch, Casper, Mobile Iron and McAfee EMM. We'll be adding others and filling in the gaps as we learn more. Your can help: edit the page (it is a wiki), or add comments, or E-mail me.

[Disclaimer: My employer Tekserve is a reseller of Casper and Airwatch (and we'd love to sell it to you!). Still, my goal is to maintain a chart that is as complete and unbiased as possible.]

iPhone coming to Verizon in early February

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Who would have expected this? Oh right, everyone.

Yes, after months, even years, of expectation and rumors, Verizon Wireless has announced that the iPhone is coming to Verizon early next month. This will be a CDMA iPhone that is also GSM capable (for world travel), 3G (not the faster 4G LTE network), and with the same browse-or-talk-not-both limitation of all CDMA devices. But it does have a built-in hotspot to reshare the 3G connection with up to 5 other devices on WiFi. (Of course the hotspot dies when you get a phone call!)

Verizon has posted a helpful FAQ on the launch. No plans or pricing yet.

Does this affect your company's plans?

The Weekly EiOS 1.10.11

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Happy New Year, everyone.

InfoWorld's #1 tech sleeper story of 2010? Apple quietly became a key enterprise provider. (I'm not so sure it was quiet, since Uncle Walt called the iPad the best product of the year.)  

Meanwhile, it seems every electronics company is trying to catch up. Forrester comes back from CES coining a new acronym: ABi (Anything But iPad), and an understanding of how difficult it will be to catch up with Apple. And I hear 2011 is, once again, the Year of the Tablet.

The US Army is testing 1-to-1 deployments, with both iPhones and Android, healthcare iPad deployments are accelerating, and Macworld discusses how companies are
developing enterprise apps for consumer devices. Finally, when developing those apps, be sure to avoid unkosher GPLv2 code.

Look forward to a reworking of our Comparison of MDM Providers and other wiki updates this week.

A history of iOS devices and versions

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We've compiled a list of iOS hardware and software versions for your reference. The table includes each device, introduction date, minimum and maximum iOS versions. Please help us keep it up-to-date.

An extensive review of AirWatch

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Lisa Phifer has published an extensive review on AirWatch for iOS Mobile Device Management. (It is notable that she reports the common limitations of all iOS MDM technology at this time.)

New iPhone Configuration Utility excludes original iPhone and iPod touch

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More discoveries about the updated iPhone Configuration Utility: A little box in Apple's iPCU documentation notes:


Note: Configuration profiles created with iPhone Configuration Utility 3.2 or later are for use only with devices that have iOS 4.2 or later.

Take a look at our table of iOS Devices to see the significance: the original iPhone and the original iPod touch max out at iOS 3.1.3. So the latest version of iPCU can't manage these devices.

I expect Mobile Device Management providers to follow suit and drop support for these original iOS devices in short time.


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The iPhone Configuration Utility 3.2 included support for F5 SSL VPNs. Like other SSL VPNs (Juniper or Cisco AnyConnect), an iTunes Store App is required, in this case the BIG-IP Edge Client.

The iPCU can be configured with the default settings for the BIG-IP Edge Client. In addition, VPN On-Demand can be configured to automatically connect the SSL VPN client when certain domains are requested. For more information see the developer documentation on iPCU.

Related F5 KB Articles

Apple updates the iPhone Configuration Utility

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Apple has updated the iPhone Configuration Utility (that works with iPad and iPod touch too) to version 3.2.

No word yet what's new. We'll post release notes when we find them.


Seems the VPN now includes integration for F5 SSL VPN.

And was Cisco AnyConnect there earlier?

The Weekly EiOS 12.17.10

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Apple is hiring a Verizon iPad Engineer. This has been blown out of proportion a bit. As Electronisa says, "The position doesn't indicate any hardware strategies for Apple directly, but it hints that the company is currently happy with its early Verizon iPad relationship."

News hit that Apple dropped jailbreak detection from their MDM API. Perhaps Apple decided there was no guarantee they could provide any sort of reliable detection?

Apple updated the iBooks app to 1.2, adding inline images to eBooks. This makes it appropriate for technical documentation and other manuals. Search the iBooks store for "Apple Developer Publications" for some free (and useful) examples.

Elsewhere, Tangoe SVP Julie Palen described "Today's MDM Landscape" in a 10-minute YouTube video. It's straight from the source here, no editing whatsoever. ReadWriteMobile posted a tutorial on Ad-Hoc app installs. BrightHub published an overview of the iPhone Enterprise Development program.

The Weekly EiOS 12.10.10

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Citrix surveyed its own community of iPad users, and they like their iPads, but it increased productivity for only 46%. Hmm. Maybe workers don't like being productive.

Gerry sizes up iPad Business Intelligence apps,

Both Mobile Iron and Zenprise updated their MDM solutions (see our Comparison of MDM Providers).

Juniper Networks announced their SSL-VPN iPad client, Junos Pulse for iPad. Can someone explain why they need this when the client is build into the OS, too?

According to unsubstantiated rumors, the iPad 2 is coming in February. Or maybe it's April.

Interesting Links

Also, I can across some interesting sites worth browsing.

IEAR is an active community of people working with iOS devices in education. In addition to app reviews they have a wiki and forum. This is a worthwhile visit for business-types too. (Thanks, Jim).

The iPod & iPad User Group is a related site for K12 iOS use. They've posted a thorough report from their deployment of 840 iPod touches, definitely worth checking out if you planning on doing any deployment.

Enterprise iPhone and iPad Administrator's Guide Now Shipping

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APress's Enterprise iPhone and iPad Administrator's Guide, by IT consultant Charles Edge, is now shipping. Here is an excerpt from the blurb:


The guide begins with an introduction to basic deployment concerns, then moves into actual methods and tools that you can use to streamline the deployment process. Next, an in-depth discussion of configuration and provisional profiles helps you deliver solid device setup, security, and adherence to organization policies. Finally, you’ll learn how to use existing help desk teams to provide effective user support. Also included is coverage of the latest iPhone- and iPad-specific enterprise technologies (such as push notification and calendaring tools) as well as internal iPhone and iPad applications and web-based solutions for businesses.

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