Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Introducing Mobile Device Management

Pritpal Rehal investigates what mobile device management could offer the University.

One of the biggest IT demands over recent years has been for more and more access to wireless connectivity across the University estate. This has been fueled by the fact that many - possibly most - of us are adapting a mobile way of working.

Photo by John Houlihan
Laptops, mobiles and tablets have become a part of our lifestyle. An important tool, they hold our personal data and become (to some) an extension of who we are. Just like your house or car keys, if you lose your mobile, panic sets in... you start checking your pockets, coat, man bag, your pockets again your coat... ahhh - you know the feeling.

Many of these devices are University owned, as well as (wait for it... another IT acronym) BYOD (bring your own device). So what's the problem? Is there a problem? What are we trying to solve?

We've worked hard to develop and improve our IT Services Desktop PC platform, to provide a fully managed, adaptable and agile solution. Now the question is - can we deliver something similar for the emerging and growing mobile platform? Key to this is how we support and protect our data. Let me introduce MDM - Mobile Device Management.

MDM is designed to manage mobile devices, support users and, vitally, protect and manage corporate data. Over the last six months, IT Services have been working with various University groups who use mobiles to access data as part of the way they work. We ran a scoping exercise to find out how staff use their mobile device, what support they'd like to see, and how we could manage the data and devices en masse.

Information gathered from the groups suggested we look at a mobile solution. We are currently evaluating one MDM product, which offers a number of features including:

  • Delivery/deployment in various forms depending on the device owner - University or personal. This give us the flexibility to deliver relevant features and services, and to support a range of operating systems.
  • A self service web portal allowing users to register and manage their own device
  • Bulk central registration of devices
  • Multiple workspaces within each mobile device, keeping work (encrypted area) and personal data separate
  • Set global or local profiles, policies and access control to support the data (including mobile apps), users and devices
  • Integration with our identity management system (IDM)
  • Sharing single tablets to multiple users
  • Create a University App Store to deliver required or popular apps to our user base
  • Develop our own University apps 
  • Pre-purchase mobile apps, ebooks and other content for multiple devices 
  • Encrypted Secure Locker, allowing us to push University data content to all or specific users anywhere in the world. Ideal for sending documents to students during Freshers' Week. We can also 'time bomb' the data, so it will automatically removed from the device after a set period of time.
  • Geo-fence a device, limiting where and when it can be used
  • Remote wipe for phones that are lost or stolen
These are just a selection of the many powerful features available - implementing any of these would need to be supported by University policy on role access, usage  and security.

We will be testing the technology with a group of departments over the next few months and hope to gain a better understanding, so that we can make an informed choice about having MDM as part of our mobile strategy.

Laptop in the Grass by Simon Brown
Used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Interesting article, Prit. Can you share more on how you see the "Sharing single tablets to multiple users" feature being used? Paul

  2. Thanks Paul , this feature is on our "to do" list , it has potential , hope to set this up and test within the Directorate , keep you posted

  3. also .....at the moment for tablets ( ipads etc ) they are pretty much work , as one user / one device. So sharing is a bit difficult , hopefully with MDM we may be able to change this role. This has a finacial benefit for the University ..dont need to buy as many devices. It would help for both Staff and Student using our devices for various services we provide that need to "mobile"


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