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SOTI MobiControl Review

By Andreas RiveraLast Modified: May 10, 2018

With SOTI MobiControl, organizations can use device and application management while enabling users with public and organization-specific productivity tools. Though it's best for organizations with 50 or more employees, SOTI's reseller channel is strong enough to scale down to small and midsize businesses. 

View all our recommendations for mobile device management (MDM) solutions on our best picks page.

SOTI MobiControl
SOTI MobiControl
Best Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions
The Verdict
SOTI is an impressive solution for field service and ruggedized devices. SOTI's reseller channel is quite vast, but its innovation – notably around privacy protection, user interface design and containerized apps – lags behind the leaders.
Compare Quotes

SOTI's approach to mobility is focused on special purpose cases, not the general work examples of just accessing email, calendars and contacts. In particular, SOTI shines in field service enablement, with a focus on application speed to market, enhanced customer experience and business transformation of consumer devices. Its unique vision is delivering solutions that let organizations use mobile devices coupled with other smart devices while reducing risk of theft and misplaced gadgets.

The SOTI enterprise mobility management (EMM) relies on the company's strong data and network security, coupled with flexible device control. Some organizations use MobiControl for consumer devices; the key use cases focus on ruggedized new Androids and legacy Windows mobile devices.

The company has two decades of experience selling mobility management solutions to businesses and is bigger than most folks might guess. It manages more than 20 million devices for more than 15,000 enterprises globally, and it boasts more than 100 original device manufacturers (ODMs), 2,000 partners and 1,500 resellers. Coupled with the unique Android+ technology, SOTI has strong device management capabilities with equally strong security. SOTI has more than 80 original equipment manufacturers with signed and certified APKs, going beyond those of EMM vendors that are restricted to what Google allows them to do.

Capabilities and Key Features

SOTI is a pure EMM provider, being hardware- and platform-agnostic. SOTI believes that it "defragmented" the highly heterogeneous Android device management space, using its proprietary Android+ technology adopted by many ODMs. SOTI also supports and manages Android for Work by Google and Samsung Knox containers.

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

SOTI entered the MDM industry before it was officially referred to as "device management," when virtually every manageable handheld device was rugged, enterprise-owned, and running on Windows Mobile or Windows CE. This is still the essence of the SOTI value proposition – monitoring and managing a diverse set of mobile devices.

Now with iOS and Android as the mobile OS leaders, and with BYOD environments in full swing, SOTI has evolved to accommodate various use cases, some at the departmental level. This makes the solution flexible enough to use for just mobile application management (MAM).

In an enterprise-wide environment, SOTI partners with Mocana to provide a complete solution for enterprise IT mobility and collaboration teams that struggle to manage everything under a single pane of glass. With MobiControl, organizations can use the combination of device and application management to control devices while enabling users with public and organization-specific productivity tools.

MAM and Application Catalog

SOTI MobiControl's suite of MAM tools includes the ability to silently install and remove applications, and a full-fledged Enterprise Application catalog with inventory and version control. With the ability to script and to automatically configure applications with user-specific settings, even those obtained from LDAP, MobiControl truly enables the use of mobile applications in the workplace while maintaining enterprise security.

Enterprise services integration includes the interoperability with enterprise directories such as Microsoft Active Directory for user authentication and device provisioning, Certificate Services for the distribution and lifecycle management of digital identities, and RESTful APIs for custom development purposes. Public and private APIs are available for advanced customization and integration of enterprise applications. The enterprise catalog can house both public (Apple, Google or Amazon) and privately developed applications.

Many of the best custom applications developed by SOTI customers, partners, and SOTI professional services are tied to sensor and location techniques, supporting the internet of things. One neat safety example of location-based services is the Distracted Driver feature, which prevents you and your employees from using a device while driving.

SOTI MobiControl
SOTI MobiControl
Best Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions
The Verdict
SOTI is an impressive solution for field service and ruggedized devices. SOTI's reseller channel is quite vast, but its innovation – notably around privacy protection, user interface design and containerized apps – lags behind the leaders.
Compare Quotes

Mobile Content Management

While other vendors are building stronger relationships with leading providers such as Box and Dropbox or connecting to their own tools, SOTI has a secure document repository hub that allows authenticated users to retrieve content remotely.

There are built-in data leak protection options, and you can also enable or disable document edits. It includes intelligent document searches on both the container side and the server. The SOTI hub includes SharePoint and WebDAV integration. SOTI MobiControl incorporates data loss prevention by utilizing SOTI Hub and SecureWorx document management for digital rights management and access control.

SOTI has defined the notion of mobile email management. While other MDMs have strong mobile email clients, SOTI's native email capabilities allow deploying and configuring email for iOS, Android and the long tail of Windows Mobile.

Administration Console

Devices are organized in a tree, segmented by organization unit, area, type and location. They are further segmented by device type, including Windows 7 to 10, Windows 10 Mobile, iOS 4 and above, Android 2.3 and above, Android+ (unique to SOTI), and Android containers (Android for Work and Samsung Knox). Also unique to MobiControl is support for Zebra printers, linked with Link-OS. These are popular in the kiosk market.

Security and Policies

The administration console lets you draw a geofence to customize. Policies can then be applied to and managed with the geofence. This is a critical feature for restricting access to high-value intellectual property, disabling devices that might "walk away," or customizing what can be done on an airport ramp, for example.

Most customers have fewer than 50 profiles, although users in larger and more complex environments have as many as 100. SOTI has found that beyond this, the profile rules get cumbersome and redundant, even contradictory.

These profiles also have a concept of targeting and can be based on Active Directory policies. SOTI has an internally developed productivity (PIM) suite, but it is far more limited than those from BlackBerry and Citrix[SS1] . There is a Webroot secure browser to control access to sites.

Policy Management

SOTI MobiControl offers a variety of policies and restrictions that you can enable in the system to prevent various actions, such as accessing specific networks, hotspot tethering and sharing files. There are filters inside the system to restrict enrollment and access to devices with specific firmware revisions, IP addresses or other unique tokens.

The system also offers time-based enrollment, where rules can be activated or deactivated based on time. There is an LDAP-based enrollment policy, meaning only previously approved users can enroll their devices into the system; this can be defined by LDAP groups. MobiControl offers full geolocation capabilities using a combination of GPS and triangulation methods, which are OS and device dependent. While SOTI previously partnered with Aruba Network (AirWave) to provide indoor location tracking, its newest[SS2]  iteration was built in-house and now can leverage iBeacons or similar.

Reporting and Analytics

SOTI has one of the only predictive and prescriptive analytics modules in the mobile device market. For example, SOTI can track battery status, charge cycles (notably on printers), and then alert you when it's time to replace batteries.

SOTI MobiControl
SOTI MobiControl
Best Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions
The Verdict
SOTI is an impressive solution for field service and ruggedized devices. SOTI's reseller channel is quite vast, but its innovation – notably around privacy protection, user interface design and containerized apps – lags behind the leaders.
Compare Quotes

On the printer and paper side, SOTI tracks simple statuses like paper running low, but it gets more advanced with an understanding of the number of paper labels printed per sheet. This requires tying into both the hardware and software stack, which is a moderately advanced means to track usage and device behavior.

Ultimately, SOTI offers early troubleshooting of mission-critical devices in the commercial use cases. Any downtime costs money, since the machines are a critical piece of the operating fabric, not merely used for checking email and browsing websites.

Documentation and Support

Interactive API documentation is available from within the product. Various services in respect to consulting assessments and methodologies are available via SOTI's Professional Services team, which consists of senior solutions architects, mobility advisors and implementation engineers who engage with SOTI customers to adapt business applications for mobile use in the field.

SOTI offers a global customer support team, available 24/7/365. All support services are offered in seven languages and include access to software updates and product releases, as well as online help, tutorials, troubleshooting guides and a knowledgebase.

You can choose from Standard, Advantage and Enterprise Support. This is similar to other providers; the difference lies in the round-the-clock availability, access to a priority support queue, and a dedicated technical advisor (with Enterprise Support) who is familiar with your implementation so they can give you a rapid response. Enterprise Support customers also benefit from SOTI solution architects, quarterly review and planning, proactive planning for upgrades, migrations, and new mobility deployment strategies.

The SOTI Professional Services team can perform both implementations and ongoing management of your specific MobiControl environment. This often includes remote access, application management, app catalog management, app testing, report structuring and security. SOTI certifies its mobility advisors to assure quality and experience for its customers.

Security

SOTI supports an internal containerized PIM, but it isn't the key value proposition to the solution (again, this is a specialized and ruggedized type of management solution). The two mobile OS platforms for which it supports PIM apps are iOS 8+ and Android Lollipop (and newer).

SOTI MobiControl allows administrators to use built-in alerts and reports to automatically and systematically identify rogue and noncompliant devices and, if needed, automatically place them in a quarantine folder, where policies can be removed and any sensitive data can be wiped from the device.

For Android devices, SOTI has the added benefit of built-in antivirus and antimalware software. As Zimperium found with two versions of Stagefright, there are inherent backdoors in Android 2.2 and later. Attackers can somewhat easily perform arbitrary operations on victimized devices through remote code. But SOTI MobiControl offers both administrators and end users (BYOD) to automatically or manually wipe their devices. In the automatic scenario, this can be done via alert trigger, such as a device being jailbroken, the presence of a malicious app, or the device leaving a specific geographic boundary. In BYOD deployments, users can also manually wipe the device remotely via online portal.

SOTI can monitor for the last time devices were online, which is helpful for devices that are stolen and sold in other countries. Due to the mission-critical nature of field devices, SOTI can set a timeout or expiration by which the device will clear all corporate data after warning to reconnect to the network.

SOTI MobiControl
SOTI MobiControl
Best Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions
The Verdict
SOTI is an impressive solution for field service and ruggedized devices. SOTI's reseller channel is quite vast, but its innovation – notably around privacy protection, user interface design and containerized apps – lags behind the leaders.
Compare Quotes

Integration and Compatibility

SOTI is compatible with iOS, Android, Linux and Windows, among other platforms. SOTI has all of the usual API support, notably service-oriented architecture (SOA) and a MobiControl REST API. This is evidenced in the strong partner and channel support, including apps and devices such as Zebra printers and other kiosk peripherals.

Industry Use Cases

SOTI has some unique use cases, including an airline that uses SOTI throughout all of its airport operations, from the check-in counter, ramp and baggage handling to aboard the aircraft. A midsize luxury hotel chain uses it to manage in-room mobile devices, which allows the company to provide devices to guests without fear of them going missing. A professional athletic team got the same control and management they were used to on BlackBerries on iPhones by using SOTI.

A discount retailer has been using SOTI MobiControl with Windows CE-based barcode scanners since 2007 and, more recently, in tandem with another EMM solution. It manages all devices at more than 300 stores through a unified interface, with future devices (Android) supported without issue.

Finally, a logistics organization was able to support a BYOD initiative for smartphones used by couriers through a custom app to perform day-to-day tasks. This drove accurate status, including pickup, dropoff and exceptions. The company easily extended the environment to include self-service shipping kiosks running on Android-based tablets.

Editor's Note: Looking for a mobile device management solution? Click the Compare Quotes button below to have our sister site Buyer Zone connect you with vendors that can help.

SOTI MobiControl
SOTI MobiControl
Best Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions
The Verdict
SOTI is an impressive solution for field service and ruggedized devices. SOTI's reseller channel is quite vast, but its innovation – notably around privacy protection, user interface design and containerized apps – lags behind the leaders.
Compare Quotes
Ready to choose your Best Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:
Andreas Rivera
Andreas Rivera graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in Mass Communication and is now a B2B writer for Business.com, Business News Daily and Tom's IT Pro. His background in journalism brings a critical eye to his reviews and features, helping business leaders make the best decisions for their companies.
SOTI MobiControl
Best Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions
The Verdict
SOTI is an impressive solution for field service and ruggedized devices. SOTI's reseller channel is quite vast, but its innovation – notably around privacy protection, user interface design and containerized apps – lags behind the leaders.
Compare Quotes

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