Free Hosted Mobile Device Management for iOS

SimpleMDM is a newish Mobile Device Management service that is free, from MJVLabs, the makers of Presense. Now, it’s newish and currently completely free, so there are specific cases where it’s appropriate. Currently, SimpleMDM can be used to:

  • Setup very specific mail
  • Setup SSIDs and passwords (those are the only two options)
  • Disable the App Store or require a password to access the app store
  • Configure Basic, Strong or Very Secure password requirements
  • Restrict content
  • Disable Camera &/or FaceTime
  • Disable Safari
  • Disable iCloud
  • Disable YouTube
  • Disable Multiplayer Gaming

The solution is simple to use. Just visit the website at simplemdm.com, click on Create New Account, enter your information and click the link in the email they send you. Then log in. Once logged in, the layout is very basic and workflow oriented.

Each block indicates a group of devices. By default, there’s a Default Group (similar to Everyone in Profile Manager environments) and a Quarantine Group. Click on Add Group to bring up a screen that allows you to configure most of the policies for the group.

Here, provide a name for the group and then configure the displayed options required by your organization. Click Save to save the changes. Then click on Settings in the right-hand sidebar and then click on Email Providers. Here, enter the information for your mail server, provided all required options are available.

Once you are satisfied with your mail settings, click Save (note, that accounts will be prompted for account/password at the time the profile is installed). You can also click Wireless Networks here, which has an option for SSID and Password.

Now, one thing that I find interesting about SimpleMDM is that it has the option to set a minimum version of iOS as well as block apps. To configure these options, click on the disclosure triangle to the right of a group name and click on Rules.

At the Rules screen, set the “Minimum required version of iOS” and choose whether to allow or deny apps, checking those you wish to allow or deny as needed.

I like to configure all my settings and then enroll devices. To enroll, click on the Add Device button in the right-hand sidebar.

Click on which group to add a device to, provide a name for the device that will be referenced within SimpleMDM and choose whether to text or email the enrollment profile to the user. If SMS, enter the users phone number. If Email, enter the email address and then click on the Create button.

When the user taps the profile they will be able to enroll in the SimpleMDM service.

Some things you will need a different MDM solution to do:

  • Anything that involves certificates (other than telling mail to use one, but not provide it)
  • Anything about 802.1x
  • Any pushing out of applications
  • Pushing out webclips
  • VPN, LDAP (for Contacts), Calendar (CalDAV), Contacts (CardDAV), SCEP
  • OS X management
  • APN configuration
  • Disable Siri
  • Customize In-App purchasing
  • Disable screen capture
  • Manage Photo Stream
  • Disable Popups, cookies, javascript and force the fraud warning in Safari
  • Set ratings region
  • Manage diagnostic data
  • Configure profiles to be non-removable
  • Use a web portal for enrollment from devices rather than through email/sms

Now, none of these things are anything against SimpleMDM. Features make things more complicated and it’s simple. I think more features will come. For now, if you just need these basic options then why bother with your own infrastructure. If there’s just one more thing you think you might need, make a feature request and see if it gets added. Either way, it’s cool to see what I consider the next step in the evolution of MDM, a free tool. I’d also like to see a self-serviceable open source option as well eventually, of which I know of a few projects in the works but none ready to mention. Either way, excellent first try and kudos to the developers of SimpleMDM.

2 Comments

  • Clif
    August 10, 2012 - 7:51 am | Permalink

    Charles, would you recommend this over Meraki’s free MDM solution? Seems about same functionality.

    • August 12, 2012 - 8:10 pm | Permalink

      I think the Meraki solution is actually better. I’ll try and do a writeup of it soon!

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