On Meraki's MDM Application

It's pretty good, but has some glitches.

The Meraki MDM platform is one of numerous ones out there, and my first experience with one. Conceptually, MDM is pretty simple, and many parts of it are buit-in to the phone's software via support for ActiveSync. Ironically, it's a Microsoft platform, but MS hasn't done well in the phone space. MDM platforms want you to install a client program for better features, and Meraki has one of those, too.

Meraki's main feature is that it's free. I presume that Cisco is doing this so they can get user stats about mobile phones, laptops, and data usage. I'm assuming it's spyware - knowing the size and data usage patterns of your LAN are interesting to Cisco. Just proceed with caution.

The software supports all kinds of devices, and we used it for iOS7 and Apple's VPP.

Conceptually, you have owners, machines (devices), and apps. There's a hierarchy of owners to machines: an owner has one or more machines. Owners and apps are grouped together by tags. You assign a tags to owners, and also assign tags to apps. For example, you might assign the "office" tag to yourself, and also assign the "office" tag to the Google Drive app.

You can then set the Google Drive app to auto-grant and auto-revoke licenses based on the presence of the tag. This allows you to deploy a group of apps to a group of devices with a few clicks.

The main chore is getting devices and users into the system. This is a three step process of installing the Meraki client, entering a code (which, mercifully, is the same for each user), tapping a few buttons, and then sending the user a VPP enrollment link which requires a few taps.

There are some glitches with auto-grant and auto-revoke, where the settings don't take, or an app isn't deployed. Toggling the feature on and off for an app seemed to fix it.

There's some weirdness with the program because you can deploy iOS apps via the VPP area, or the Apps area. I used the VPP area. This was a little confusing.

So far, overall, pretty good. It's free, so, how can anyone really complain about the little glitches. I think it's a fantastic deal for a small business... but if your company happens to be in competition with Cisco, you obviously shouldn't be using this product. Those little glitches aren't a big deal if you have a small network, but they could become a problem for larger networks.