MDM, short for Mobile Device Management, is one of those things most people don’t realize they need. When used wisely, though, MDM – meaning mainly web-based apps for admins to control how mobile devices work – is your ultimate chaos prevention tool. And it’s free, too!
Why everyone should use MDM
If you don’t believe it, try imagining what would happen if an IT manager had to apply settings manually on every computer in his company, blind to trends and problems that a central control panel would make obvious. Just like IT managers don’t use an “Excel only” approach to keeping inventory anymore, mobile devices have now graduated to a level where they need to be controlled and kept track of.
What about if the data on company, or personal smartphones and tablets, today’s powerful personal computers with cameras, microphones and other sensors, was leaked to malicious outsiders? Most of us understand why company PCs shouldn’t have all kinds of random software installed, so the prospect of living without any say over what goes on work phones does feel less than comfortable.
This is exactly why people do need MDM, and why we’ve put together this quick-start guide on getting up and running with Miradore Online, a free MDM product from a Finnish company. Miradore’s MDM offering comes with a slick user interface and lots of free features in the basic plan for unlimited devices. You’re just a few clicks away from better control over phones and tablets, including at-a-glance reports of all your devices and detailed reports on installed apps.
Step 1: Requirements
To get started, check that you have a suitable device. Miradore Online supports iOS 4 or later, Android 2.3.3 or later and Windows Phone 8 and 8.1. You can have a mixed environment with all three platforms. You also need a computer with a modern web browser.
If you can choose which kind of device to try it out in first, Android is the easiest. iOS requires an extra step when adding the first device, for security. But since you don’t have to do this for every device, it might be a good idea to get to it.
To add Apple devices to Miradore’s free MDM, you will need an Apple ID. If you have an account that’s used to administer Apple issues for many users in you company or home, that’s probably the one to choose.
Step 2: Sign up for Miradore Online
Please remember to pick a strong password. Miradore Online is a powerful service that’s intended for controlling and locating mobile devices.
Step 3: Add devices
After the quick signup form, you’re ready to take control of your IT surroundings. Pick the kind of device you’re going to add. If you’re using Android or Windows Phone, go ahead and skip to step 5 for inviting a user.
Step 4: Give Miradore permission to control Apple devices
Say what you want about Apple, but they’re really serious about who gets to touch iOS devices. To be able to add remote management capabilities to an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, you will need Apple’s blessing in the form of a certificate signed by both Apple and Miradore. This is a mixed bag, but luckily, you don’t have to do it for every device. The upside is that Apple gives Mobile Device Management tools like Miradore Online broad, controlled capabilities for device management access to iOS devices.
At this point, Miradore Online will give you a file to download, csr.txt, a Certificate Signing request. Download and save this file, but keep it private unless you really know this stuff. Click the link presented to open Apple’s portal for Push Certificate creation. Please sign in with your preferred Apple Account and move forward with the Certificate creation tool. Accept the terms and follow the instructions on the screen, using the csr.txt file you just downloaded.
When you’re done inputting the CSR, you will be able to download a certificate called something like “MDM_ Miradore Oy_Certificate.pem”. Keep this certificate private to you and Miradore. In fact, now return to the Miradore site and upload the .pem certificate file as instructed.
Step 5: Invite yourself
We’re back to where we left off to get Apple’s blessing. At this point, both Android and iOS administrators will be able to invite the first user, probably you. It’s very straightforward and happens over e-mail or SMS. Either way, the user will receive a link to click on. If you don’t like waiting for e-mail (or wading through a packed inbox), go the SMS route.
Step 6: Enroll the first device to Miradore Online
Now, grab the device you wanted to enroll with the message you just sent. Just click the link in the SMS or e-mail and you will be presented with a screen like this one in your device’s browser. Assuming you’re presented with the right option, agree to continue, or pick another option.
Your browser will now download a management profile and your device will attempt to install it. On our iPhone, it looks like this. The Install button lets you get on with the process. You will be asked for one more confirmation to agree to trust the management system.
Now, there you have it. If you go back to the web browser on your computer, you’ll notice that the system soon recognizes that a phone has been added. Press Next to move on to some easy options or Skip to just start exploring your new management environment.
Step 7: Start taking control
If you pressed Next in the previous screen, you will be presented with some options for going forward. Setting a passcode is a really good way to start if you don’t have one. Even a simple PIN goes a long way to make sure nobody’s going to snoop through your photos, messages or e-mails.
If you choose Show device at this point, you will be taken to an information-rich view of the first item in your managed inventory. The view looks like the picture below.
Our suggestion is that you take a quick look through the information Miradore Online has on your phone within the tabs pointed at by the first arrow. A good starting point is the Applications view where you can prevent the device from using up all the data plans within your organization. Notice that location tracking needs to be activated if you want it on.
Moving on to the second arrow, the drop down menu under the profile icon, you’re given the option to go and fill out some profile information. It probably makes sense to do that at this point. On the My Settings page, scroll down and press Edit.
In the final step below, we’ll take a glance at the Dashboard, the place where all the magic will happen from now on.
8. Add devices and stay in the driver’s seat
We’re getting to the point where you will have to explore your new command center for your organization’s mobile computing. Before we let you go, let’s have a quick look at the main dashboard for Miradore Online, the place where you arrive every time you sign in.
To get more out the system, such as nice reports, go ahead and add more devices through Users or Welcome view.
There you have it: a quick walkthrough of setting up a modern Mobile Device Management system – for free. Other options on the market function similarly, by hooking into specific frameworks in Android and iOS phones to allow control over company property.
Nevertheless, we think Miradore Online is a great option to explore if you find yourself feeling out of control over your devices. Thanks to its friendly freemium model, you can go a long way to integrate it with your home or business life before having to budget for the competitively priced paid plans.