IBM MaaS360; Cloud Providers

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IBM’s MaaS360 product (which begins at $four per machine per 30 days) continues to rank among the many leaders in cellular machine administration (MDM) market with the acquisition of Fiberlink Communications and their Maas360 product roughly three years in the past. The newest launch of the product has added the ability of IBM’s Watson expertise to carry to bear the strengths of a cognitive advisor to the platform. IBM has additionally built-in their BigFix endpoint administration product into MaaS360 to consolidate their administration consoles for purchasers trying to cut back their IT administration footprint. Solely IBM MaaS360’s considerably restricted potential to handle Home windows Cellular units maintain it behind Editors’ Alternative winner VMware AirWatch this time round.

I discovered this model of IBM MaaS360 had no adjustments to the enrollment course of we examined beforehand, and is similar to VMware AirWatch on all of the platforms, together with using QR codes which helps to hurry the method alongside. IBM brings a variety of issues to the desk for a product corresponding to MaaS360, not the least of which is their safety crew. A protracted historical past with the biggest company clients from each a gross sales and a consulting perspective helps as nicely. The bottom MDM product offers a full set of capabilities, with the choice so as to add different options to incorporate superior menace modeling and virus safety.

Whereas help for Home windows Cellular units is there, it does not examine to the capabilities of different merchandise, most notably VMware AirWatch. This won’t be an enormous deal for some clients contemplating the low gross sales charge in comparison with Android and Apple. On the identical time, Microsoft has plenty of very giant deployments of Home windows Cellular units and continues to ship updates to the working system (OS).

Set up and System Registration

Getting began with IBM MaaS360 is much like some the opposite merchandise in that you simply join a trial demo on the website. Be aware that you won’t be able to use a Gmail account to sign up as they want your company email address. Once you get past the registration, you should be up and running when the welcome email arrives. First steps include configuring users and then any default policies you want to enforce, such as a PIN lock. A series of Quick Start screens leads you through the initial configuration process.

Registering devices happens primarily from the main dashboard on either the Devices or Users tab. You can also enable Streamlined Enrollment for iOS devices, which uses an Apple process to register multiple devices by using a corporate token certificate. With corporate identity linking it’s possible to enroll a user’s device by sending an enrollment email with a link to the MaaS360 corporate website. The user then uses their corporate log-in credentials to connect to the MaaS360 server. It’s an okay process overall, though registration for Windows Mobile devices still doesn’t compete with that of Microsoft Intune.

Those methods, however, don’t help much in bulk import operations like you’d likely face during initial deployment. For that, IBM MaaS360 includes a downloadable Cloud Extender for integrating with a corporate directory such as Microsoft Active Directory (AD). They also support OpenLDAP, Novell LDAP, IBM Domino LDAP, and the Oracle User Directory as well as bulk uploads from CSV files. This greatly simplifies the process of onboarding large numbers of users by linking to existing corporate resources. Additionally, you can create a group of users with the Add Local Group wizard to make the management of multiple users easier.

One new feature in this release is the Azure Integration page under Setup. This page lets an administrator connect to Microsoft Azure AD and grant access for users to authenticate against during enrollment. This page also provides an option to sync user and group information with Azure AD.

Management and Policies

The customizable MaaS360 management console enables you to move things around such as specific alerts within the My Alert Center area. The user interface (UI) is clean and lets you click individual items such as the Devices or Users icons to bring up additional information. Clicking any alert drills down into that item to show more details. You can edit any of the existing alert items to see the search condition and to modify any of the default values, such as the time period last reported.

Configuring security policies happens from the Security tab on the main screen. Creating a new policy consists of answering multiple questions and choosing options from drop-down boxes. Another security feature is the concept of compliance. This makes it possible for MaaS360 to monitor devices for things such as a jailbroken iOS device or a rooted Android device. It’s also possible to use the idea of geofencing to ensure corporate devices aren’t taken outside of an approved location. Once a specific compliance policy has been enabled, you can configure what happens to a device should it go out of compliance. This can be anything from sending a message to locking or wiping a device. It’s also possible to configure individual devices such that the IBM MaaS360 agent does not collect any personal information from an employee-owned device.

IBM MaaS360 - Enrollment Request Sent

The MaaS360 reporting capabilities deliver a number of canned reports in both graphical and tabular form. Each report can be exported to either a CSV or PNG file for tabular and graphic, respectively. You can also configure the system to automatically email reports at a specified time. This is done by establishing a subscription and selecting which reports and formats you wish to create as well as the frequency of delivery. The My Activity Feed shows the last activities reported by the system along with a drop-down box to filter on recent additions, compliance events, updates, and cloud extender alerts.

Distributing and restricting access to documents can be accomplished at the device, user, group, or all-users level. The process starts with clicking the Add Document button from one of several different screens. I was able to test the single device option by using the Windows Phone. You can select the document so that it is restricted from cut/copy/paste, unsecure email, and for exporting to other apps. It’s also possible to restrict the downloading of a document to Wi-Fi only or to prevent document deletion by the use. I was able to wipe this same device and see the process take place. In my case, the device went into the reset condition within less than 30 seconds from the command.

A Fast-Rising Price

Pricing begins at $4 per device per month for basic MDM features. MaaS360 offers a productivity suite similar to the Worx offering from Citrix XenMobile, which includes secure mobile mail and browser, app security, and the enterprise gateway. That option will go up to $6.25 per device per month. A collaboration suite offering adds secure chat, mobile content management, and the ability to edit and sync corporate documents from a mobile device for $9.75 per device per month.

IBM MaaS360 provides the capabilities you’d expect in an MDM platform, with IBM extending those capabilities as well, especially around security and productivity. While some of these features come as part of add-on suites that drive up cost, the overall platform is still worth a close look for both small to midsize business (SMB) and enterprise customers. Aside from price, the only complaint I have would relate to a few glitches in the device registration process and Windows Mobile support.

IBM MaaS360 - Device Inventory

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