Open Source MDM: Overview, Pros and Cons

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    Open Source MDM, is primarily a service that allows IT administrators of an organization to remotely manage, control, and enroll all the devices extended to the employees for work purposes. 

    Open Source MDM
    Open Source MDM- A Quick Guide

    With an MDM solution, IT teams can seamlessly secure and manage a host of users including smartphones, laptops, desktops, and tablets. For implementing an MDM solution, companies require a third-party product that offers management features.

    For companies that are considering using one, the MDM market offers a myriad of vendors that enable effective device management in a business ecosystem.

    Price is an Important Factor

    The global economy has been fluctuating after being affected by the pandemic. Resultantly, organizations had to shift their budget, mostly towards the downslide. According to Gartner¹, the IT budget was cut by $300 billion by the end of 2020.

    Despite such a massive cut in the budget, IT has a surprisingly well potential to make the most out of the situation. By using free tools available over the internet, IT administrators are able to eliminate consolidated solutions and automate processes.

    Additionally, with constand upgrades in operating systems, managing devices for remote control and security has become a little complicated. Consequently, enterprises are left scrambling to find the perfect MDM technology and have even started to explore the open-source MDM market to limit their budgets.

    The best way to save money and yet deliver the task is by using free technology. Several MDM companies offer a free trial before you can decide to purchase the tool. Since they only offer access for a couple of weeks or so, they are not the best choice for most IT admins. Therefore, the only option left to explore is using an open source MDM solution. 

    What is Open Source MDM?

    An open source or free MDM, just like open source software, is specially designed so that it is publicly accessible by everyone. The program of an open source MDM can be viewed, modified and distributed by anyone. 

    Different open source MDM tools offer a different set of features and functions to help the IT administrators. Some of the most common characteristics and benefits of open source MDM are mentioned below:

    • Managed by web-based controllers
    • Manage a wide range of Android and iOS devices within an organization
    • Easy implementation into your local system
    • A knowledge base of community for queries and learning new functionalities
    • Extensive and easy to use dashboards
    • Carry out audits for enrolled devices
    • Permission for bulk configuration and device grouping

    Please note that not all free MDMs offer all these features. The functionalities differ based on different MDM tools.

    Open Source MDM: Pros and Cons

    So, are free MDMs your calling or not? Indecisiveness can be very hard hitting when you are evaluating open source MDM versions. 

    Here’s a quick rundown of what can be perceived as the advantages and disadvantages of using open source MDM options:

    The Advantages of Using Free MDM Versions

    The top benefits of open source MDM are mentioned here:

    1. They are free of cost

    As mentioned before, if organizations are looking to cut down their IT budgets, the only way they can do so without disrupting regular workflow is by using free tools available over the internet. Open source MDMs come free of cost unlike established MDM programs, which typically charge on a per device basis. So if you are desperately looking to reduce your added cost, then free MDM is an ideal solution.

    2. You get an MDM

    As they say, something is better than nothing. Without an MDM, industries like logistics would be completely clueless on information such as how the workforce is operating, what are the reports on warehouse storage, etc. If you can’t afford a paid MDM tool, the free version will at least get you through so that you have all the data and records available at your disposal. With a free open source MDM, you get an option that keeps your work going on, and it is a good practice for small businesses that just require a solution to manage 10 to 15 devices because it costs nothing and more or less delivers expected services. 

    3.Various options to choose from 

    Free MDM versions give you an ample amount of options to choose from. The open source market is as flooded as the registered and verified market. So don’t think just because you are using a free MDM tool you will have to ransack the internet to find suitable solutions that fit your needs. You can select an open source MDM tool based on your priorities: if you want easy enrollment, you can find an MDM for it. Similarly, if you want an MDM for remote monitoring, package installations, configuration management, or security command execution, you can select your MDM accordingly.

    The Disadvantages of Using Open Source MDM Tools

    While free MDMs are definitely better than not having any, here are some disadvantages that you need to carefully consider before implementing an open source version for your company:

    1. Time intensive to implement

    Unlike paid tools, which have dedicated customer support and training teams that help companies implement the MDM, open source versions do not offer such advantages. Implementing free MDMs is time-consuming because the IT admins need to learn the tool from scratch, mostly without any proper support or ‘how-to’ guides. Learning an open source MDM tool from the beginning, enrolling devices into it, figuring out its features and functionalities, and checking its reports and data is definitely more time-intensive compared to using a paid tool.

    2. May lack critical functionality

    Here are three main functionalities that open source MDMs may typically lack:

    • The most important function of an MDM is to provide seamless data security so that all the sensitive organizational information remains intact even in the worst-case scenarios (i,e., data breach or theft or loss of device). Not all open source MDMs may be able to give your devices such tight security. 
    • Additionally, different industry verticals may require a different set of features. For instance, educational institutions’ requirements for an MDM can be different from that of a logistics company. Therefore, one free MDM is not suitable for two such industries. 
    • Another important factor is that not all devices in a company may run on a single operating system. Companies may use different OS such as Android, Mac, iOS, or even Windows, meanwhile open-source MDMs usually only support one type of operating system. 

    3. On-premise deployment

    Free MDMs often require on-premise deployment. This means that once an open source MDM tool is deployed within a company’s infrastructure. It takes more people, time, and equipment to set up a new environment. And it may also require additional hardware/software purchases for seamless services. Your company will be solely responsible for data recovery as well as high availability in case anything goes wrong. Plus, the cost of upgrading on-premise deployment is often high.

    Are Open Source MDM Tools the Right Option for you?

    Try answering the following questions:

    • Are free MDM tools really advantageous if they usurp internal resources? 
    • Are they worth it if they lack functionality? 
    • What happens when your IT team realizes, say two months down the line, that you need a more sophisticated tool?

    Open source MDMs are ideal solutions only for those who are willing to:

    • Set up a server
    • Install and configure the software
    • And then manage the solution

    Sure open source is free, but your employees’ time and efforts are not. Therefore, it translates into a big-time investment that costs more than a paid MDM version.

    The Biggest Issue of a Free MDM: Missing Functionality 

    Companies and IT admins are generally less concerned about the cost of the solution and more bothered about whether it offers the right functionality and can achieve the intended tasks. It’s already been mentioned how not all free MDMs offer exclusive and robust features. 

    Better Device Management 

    Remote management of devices generally encompasses two key areas:

    • User management, which helps IT admins create, delete, and modify user access to the system. This includes adding in password complexity rules and authentication factors such as biometrics, MFA via TOTP, or WebAuthn. 
    • Device management, which secures, configures, and updates all the devices in a company. It also includes security capabilities like locking, wiping, shutting down, or restarting machines. IT admins can remotely configure a device and keep them up-to-date with the latest software patches.

    Free MDMs may promise to offer some of these functionalities, but definitely not all.

    In conclusion, a purpose-built platform, such as Scalefusion MDM is better than an open-source MDM. With us, you first get hands-on experience by creating a free trial account. It allows you to manage a set number of users and devices immediately for 14 days, with quick and free in-app chat support with our technology experts. 

    Schedule a free live demo here – and get all your questions answered.

    Yesha Gangani
    Yesha Gangani
    Yesha is a professional writer with a hidden talent of promoting persona tactics to catch the attention of a nerd enthusiast. She has a high caliber of attracting, engaging and educating any tech-savvy individual with latest trends and insights in the industry.

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