5 affordable MDM options for small businesses

Small and medium sized businesses have embraced BYOD faster than large corporations, but research suggests SMBs aren't taking security seriously. Here are five affordable and easy-to-deploy BYOD management solutions that will get your data secure, without hurting productivity.

emm for smbs
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Affordable MDM options for small businesses

Small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) have embraced BYOD. In a study of SMBs from the IT community, Spiceworks, 61 percent of respondents said they have a BYOD policy in place. However, the same study found that 56 percent of that group also said they had not implemented any mobile device management (MDM) strategies and didn't have plans to do so within the next six months.

While BYOD might allow these smaller businesses to save on hardware costs, it does open up unique risks for IT. With employees running on varying operating systems and hardware, it becomes difficult to implement secure solutions across the board, leaving sensitive data at risk. If just one employee's tablet falls into the wrong hands, you're going to wish you had some way to remotely wipe data on that device. But small businesses also have small IT departments -- sometimes consisting of only one person -- so a BYOD management strategy needs be straightforward, affordable and low-maintenance.

Just because your business doesn't have a big budget or a large staff doesn't mean you can't ensure that all your corporate data remains secure, no matter where it lives. Here are five affordable, low-maintenance MDM products that will help you embrace secure BYOD.

1 airwatch - EMM - mobile device management
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AirWatch, owned by VMware, aims to be as "simple and straightforward" as possible, attempting to give users a hassle free experience when it comes to MDM. The platform is an open ecosystem, so it will integrate with apps like Office 365 and Dropbox, among others; it's also compatible across a multitude of operating systems. It hits all the major points of MDM -- allowing IT to control data on user's devices, without infringing on their personal privacy, along with a slew of extra features.

Pricing is per device, and starts at $4.33 per device, per month and includes device, app and native email management. From there, packages go up to the $9.33 per month for "complete enterprise mobility management." Really small businesses can opt for AirWatch Express, which allows you to secure anywhere from 10 to 500 devices at $2.50 per device, per month.

Codeproof website
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Codeproof is relatively new to the game -- and it aims to offer small businesses a way to secure their devices without investing too much time and energy. There are two packages Codeproof offers, the first is the enterprise level, which covers an extensive amount of MDM needs -- probably more than any SMB would need to use; the package will run you $49.99 per device, per year. The next option, which is probably where most SMBs will find their needs covered is the professional level, which costs $3.99 per device, per month or $29.99 per device, per year. Both options are compatible with a number of operating systems and include plenty of features to help secure every device that comes into the office.

[ Related story: 7 enterprise mobile management features in Windows 10 ]

Cisco Meraki EMM
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Meraki, a company acquired by Cisco, offers multiple products aimed at helping businesses, small or large, tackle IT management needs. It's a cloud-based ecosystem, with devices ranging in wireless routers, network switching hubs, security cameras, phone and communication systems and centralized device management software. If you want to stick with one company for nearly all your business IT needs, Cisco's Meraki is a great option. More specifically, its BYOD offerings promise to offer solutions at low prices without complexity, giving you "headache-free" mobile device management. Pricing varies greatly, depending on what devices and solutions you decide to go with.

Hexnode - EMM - mobile device management
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Unlike some of the other solutions on this list, Hexnode is focused solely on offering MDM solutions for SMBs. You'll get all the necessary features to manage both BYOD and company-issued hardware, including multi OS support, over-the-air enrollment for your remote workers, centralized dashboards, remove device management and application management, just to name a few.

Pricing depends on how many licenses you need for the amount of devices in your company, and the fee is established per device. If you look at the package and think it includes more features than you'll need, Hexnode will work to design a custom package to suit your business' needs.

[ Related story: 5 products leading the enterprise mobile management pack ]

Microsoft Intune - EMM - mobile device management
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Microsoft was late to the game with MDM and EMM solutions, introducing the cloud-based management software, Microsoft Intune, in July of 2011. It's not designed specifically for SMBs, but it offers the same type of options as other vendors on this list, especially for businesses already running heavily on the Microsoft ecosystem. It's also has the potential to be less expensive for your company because it offers pricing per employee -- not per device. That means, if you have employees running two or more devices -- which is increasingly common -- the rate won't go up unless you hire more people.