AirWatch Launches Small Biz Mobile Device Management

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted May 14, 2013

AirWatch brings mobile device management (MDM) to small businesses.

The Atlanta-based company, best known for its enterprise mobile management solutions, unveiled a product tailored to the needs of small businesses. Dubbed AirWatch Professional, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering allows firms to get their mobile devices under control quickly and at low cost, according to AirWatch CEO John Marshall.

"AirWatch Professional is specifically designed for small businesses that require simplicity and ease-of-use to operate efficiently and effectively. While providing the most advanced and innovative feature set for enterprises, we also recognize the challenges that small businesses face with mobility management," said Marshall in a statement.

The company joins a growing number of MDM providers that leverage the cloud to provide small businesses with IT services. For example in November, Codeproof launched a mobile security and MDM suite that provides mobile device telemetry, asset management, network configuration and antivirus capabilities.

Like bigger businesses, small businesses have hopped onto the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) bandwagon. Yet unlike enterprises, they typically lack the IT resources and dedicated personnel to manage the throngs of iPads and Android smartphones that routinely access company data.

Last year, Spiceworks surveyed 1,500 small business IT workers. The tech hub discovered that the majority of small businesses, 75 percent in fact, supported and managed their employees' personal devices.

This influx of smartphones and tablets puts a strain on small business IT specialists.

Sophos, a maker of security software, discovered last June that 44 percent of small business IT managers struggled with secure access to cloud apps and services. Thirty-nine percent expressed concern over mobile device management and sophisticated cyber threats.

Addressing Mobile Device Challenges

AirWatch aims to alleviate some of the major challenges of incorporating mobile devices into the workplace with a cloud-based centrally managed solution that supports iOS, Android, Symbian, Windows Phone and Windows Phone 8. It supports up to 50 devices per company and is available in 15 languages.

AirWatch Professional's Web-based dashboard features uncluttered, user-friendly screens that help small business IT managers track and configure their mobile devices. It provides round-the-clock device monitoring and delivers information about users and their devices, including device types and mobile operating system.

Small business IT managers can enroll devices into their environment via SMS or email. They can also use the product to extend access to company email and Wi-Fi and impose company-wide device settings for consistent and predictable mobile policies (passcode, email, Wi-Fi and GPS).

The service also features GPS tracking capabilities. In the event of a lost or stolen smartphone or tablet, managers can remotely lock and wipe the device, preventing data loss or unauthorized access to company resources.

What if a small business outgrows AirWatch Professional? No problem, according to the company. AirWatch asserts that "users are able to effortlessly upgrade to the full AirWatch EMM [Enterprise Mobility Management] platform."

AirWatch Professional is available now. Pricing starts at one euro per device per month.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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