Remote monitoring and management (RMM) and mobile device management (MDM) have several key differences—but IT businesses can benefit the most from choosing software that combines both capabilities.
Less than a decade ago, the IT industry was bracing itself for the collision of remote monitoring and management (RMM) software and mobile device management (MDM) software. The demand for these products to be integrated was driven primarily by MSPs hoping to leverage a single dashboard for the management of servers, notebooks, desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. With the surge in mobile device usage in modern working environments, merging RMM and MDM capabilities seemed like the obvious next step for IT software.
In recent years, many all-in-one platforms have begun to blend RMM with MDM capabilities. But understanding the difference between these two still plays an important role in a business’s choice of software. This guide will provide an outline of the differences and similarities between RMM and MDM to assist you in choosing the right IT MSP software.
What is mobile device management (MDM)?
MDM refers to the management of mobile devices used to access confidential corporate data. An enterprise mobile management solution can help companies ensure that mobile devices are safe for corporate use, with the aim of mitigating the risks associated with bring your own device (BYOD) policies and the subsequent use of mobile devices in a working environment. Enterprise MDM software will help perform tasks like storing key mobile device information, assisting with locating devices, securing stolen or lost devices, and regulating which applications can be downloaded on devices.
With the exponential growth of mobile device adoption, MDM has become increasingly important and evolved into what is referred to as enterprise mobility management (EMM). In working environments with established BYOD policies or the regular use of mobile devices, both corporate and employee-owned devices are used to interact with or access company data. While there are practical benefits to this approach, there are also security risks and management difficulties associated with using mobile devices in a corporate environment. Enterprise MDM software can help companies overcome these challenges to help create a stronger, safer network.
As such, an enterprise mobile management solution partially functions as a security tool, allowing IT administrators to manage, monitor, and secure both personally-owned and company-owned mobile devices. Effective enterprise MDM software can also have a significant impact on a system’s administrator’s approach to managing mobile devices.
MDM software provides IT professionals with a centralized console that helps technicians proactively monitor and manage mobile devices—as well as the risks associated with their use. With enterprise MDM software, you can manage applications being installed on devices, remove apps that pose a security risk, and configure device settings.
Why is MDM important?
For MSPs and other businesses, MDM allows them to empower end users to flexibly utilize mobile devices without compromising security. By providing customers with access to corporate data even when they are on the go, MSPs can offer them increased productivity and employee satisfaction. Here are some of the other key benefits of using an MDM solution:
Enterprise MDM software gives you the option of deploying on-premises, or in public or private cloud environments. This provides MSPs with the added convenience of being able to choose how they want to deploy their MDM solution according to their company and their customers’ individual needs.
Many MDM software solutions are able to integrate seamlessly with application development and management tools, help desk software, and other important solutions. The ability to integrate these tools can improve the efficiency of business operations and streamline management activities.
Ability to manage different device types
Enterprise mobile management solutions enable you to more efficiently manage multiple operating systems, such as Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Chrome OS, and tvOS, in addition to a range of different device types—including laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Automation capabilities included with many enterprise MDM software solutions can save your MSP a significant amount of time by automating repetitive tasks that are typically performed manually. This might include requesting that users install specific applications and configuring the appropriate Wi-Fi settings.
Certain MDM software solutions allow companies to create tailor-made policies, helping your company improve the efficiency of workflows when serving specific customers.
By utilizing a range of policies, such as blocklisting apps that pose a security risk, MDM software can boost employee productivity. Not only will reducing vulnerabilities minimize downtime, employees will appreciate the increased flexibility offered by being able to take advantage of mobile devices to work wherever they are.
Strong MDM tools are built to help your company demonstrate complex compliance requirements and standards, such as HIPAA, CJIS, GDPR, and ISO.
The primary role of MDM software is to help ensure security is preserved when mobile devices are being used. MDM tools protect business data on mobile devices, often with encryption, and help prevent sensitive information from being saved to third-party services or shared without authorization.
This is an area in which MDM software and RMM software overlap, because both provide remote management. Although RMM software tends to provide a much more extensive range of remote management features, MDM software specializes in mobile management features to help ensure assets remain under your purview.
What is remote monitoring and management (RMM)?
Remote monitoring and management, or RMM, combines two key activities—remote monitoring and remote management. These two terms, though similar, have some key differences, which this guide will address.
What is remote management?
Remote management, as its name suggests, refers to activities that involve managing a network or computer remotely. Remote management usually requires software to be installed on the remote device, which enables the user to remotely manage activities across the systems, workstations, network, servers, or endpoints. This means a user could remotely manage a device on the other side of the globe, without ever leaving the office.
What is remote monitoring?
Remote monitoring, sometimes called RMON, refers to activities that allow MSPs to monitor their network operational activity for their customers. This is achieved by utilizing remote devices called monitors or probes. Remote monitoring helps MSPs establish efficient and robust control over network infrastructure.
RMM software combines remote monitoring and remote management utilities for companies or MSPs to make use of.
Key RMM functions
For MSPs, RMM tools can help perform a variety of critical tasks, including the following functions:
- Assist in gathering insight regarding customer networks, such as information on machine status and health, as well as data and reports on a customer’s networks and systems.
- Help MSPs maintain their customer systems, keeping them up to date and performing as they should be.
- Provide alerts about device health and performance for technicians to proactively resolve issues before they affect end users.
- Remotely administer patches, as well as installing software and full upgrades from a unified console.
- Automate routine maintenance tasks and perform batch tasks to increase technician productivity and save time.
Why is RMM important?
Appropriate remote monitoring and management is critical for MSPs to protect customers’ networks and maintain operations. RMM software can be extremely comprehensive, offering MSPs an all-in-one solution for their IT management and monitoring activities.
Here are some of the key benefits of using RMM software:
- Makes it possible for businesses of all sizes to achieve enterprise-grade monitoring through powerful features and automation.
- Facilitates systematic and streamlined management of MSP customer IT requirements.
- Helps ensure the network is stable and performing as it should be.
- Extends the lifespan of client devices and systems by proactively managing their health and tracking updates and issues as needed.
- Helps MSPs improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and brand reputation by controlling and managing customer problems.
- Assists MSPs in expanding their customer base and delivering better quality of service.
What’s the difference between RMM and MDM?
Having defined MDM and RMM, and outlined what each of these solutions can provide, it’s important to emphasize the key differences between RMM vs MDM. While there are some functionalities that overlap between RMM and MDM, such as certain remote management capabilities, the difference between these software solutions is that while MDM focuses on managing mobile devices, RMM solutions are more comprehensive.
In fact, many all-in-one RMM solutions, such as SolarWinds® RMM and SolarWinds N-central® include MDM functionalities so MSPs can provide the best unified offering to their customers. These extremely versatile RMM solutions consolidate remote monitoring, remote management, and mobile device management activities into a single solution.
Combining these capabilities into one dashboard helps MSPs collect better customer data and avoid wasted time spent toggling between software. By providing the ultimate visibility into systems and devices—including mobile devices—all-in-one remote monitoring and management options are the efficient tools MSPs need. Given the growing use of mobile devices in corporate environments, MDM might even be considered an essential part of an effective RMM solution. To learn more, free trials of both SolarWinds RMM and N-central are available.