Hexnode vs Fleetsmith: The choice is obvious, or is it?
Hexnode vs Fleetsmith is a dilemma for IT admins looking to deploy a new UEM solution. Read our detailed report for help.
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Sep 19, 2022
9 min read
Apple’s acquisition of Fleetsmith was a step towards assisting their customers to make the transition to remote working. But things are changing now that Apple announced the shutting down of the Fleetsmith Mobile Device Management (MDM) system. Signups for new customers have already been discontinued, and the existing customers will only be able to use its services till October 21, 2022, after which they won’t be receiving configuration profiles from the Fleetsmith server. This has left the users thinking—”What next?” The need for selecting a comprehensive management service is way too high in today’s scenario. Before we get there, let’s have a look at some backstory.
Fleetsmith was founded in 2016 as a technology company offering cloud-based device management service targeted at enterprises using Apple devices. Its device management solution, the Fleetsmith MDM enables users to manage and configure their endpoints remotely.
Apple acquired Fleetsmith back in June 2020, as a means to make device management easy for small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs). Apple has been making attempts to enter the enterprise market since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic when the transition to remote working was imminent. Its latest partnership with companies such as IBM and SAP is direct evidence of this. All these collaborations helped its clients with broad Apple device deployments but came short on the SME end of things. This was what Fleetsmith was able to solve with its integrated solution designed for smaller enterprises using Apple products. This service enables SMEs to deploy and manage their endpoints with close supervision.
Apple’s acquisition is in itself a strong statement on the capabilities of Fleetsmith as a UEM. Fleetsmith’s growth over the last few years has been impressive as a start-up. Being able to provide automation in device management was the catalyst to the growth of Fleetsmith. “Put your devices on auto-pilot”—the tagline itself gives quite a good idea of what it is capable of. Fleetsmith automates device setup, deployment, and security of all Apple products, like iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple TVs. Its capability to remotely set up endpoints for new customers made SMEs welcome it with both hands.
Another notable feature is the enrollment with G-Suite and Office 365. This feature lets Fleetsmith import users and configure settings directly from G-Suite and Office 365. In addition, the dashboard feature on the Fleetsmith agent application lets you have full fleet visibility in a single glance. This is a handy feature for customers to review the device health remotely. All these user-friendly features make it evident that Fleetsmith is one of the best when it comes to managing Apple devices.
Even though the news of Apple discontinuing Fleetsmith’s service was huge, it didn’t take the tech world by surprise. It was apparent that taking over Fleetsmith MDM won’t solve everything, as the needs of enterprises are so diverse. Enterprises that require a more advanced management service will still require the support of specialized third party MDMs.
Meanwhile, Apple has developed an app for remotely deploying and managing Apple devices for small enterprises, called Apple Business Essentials by using some of the elements it took from Fleetsmith . This has made it easier for SMEs but still doesn’t address the needs of organizations that require advanced management.
Ever since Apple announced the shutting down of Fleetsmith, users have been on the hunt for a better endpoint management solution. The list of UEMs available in the market today is not small. However, there aren’t many UEMs that provide a comprehensive device management solution. Hexnode is one of the top UEMs in the list, with plenty of features. While Fleetsmith MDM is undoubtedly one of the best management solutions for Apple devices, Hexnode is a more comprehensive solution, supporting multiple endpoint platforms.
Looking at the similarities first, you don’t have to be a tech wizard to set up these UEMs. Fleetsmith and Hexnode have straightforward and optimized ways of getting your devices enrolled. The resources and help videos provided on both of their websites can get you out of any issue you face during deployment. Both of them support enrollment using G suite which makes the process all the more easier.
Fleetsmith being a dedicated solution for Apple devices is both a boon and a curse in itself. Even though it is one of the go-to management solutions for Apple, the fact that it doesn’t support Android, Windows, and other platforms will always be a shortcoming. If limited to only Apple devices, it will seriously affect the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture since there might be employees who don’t own an iPad, iPhone or MacBook. On the other hand, Hexnode’s service extends to platforms like Android, Windows, and Fire OS in addition to iOS, macOS, and tvOS. This lets enterprises using Hexnode have more versatility in their operations by making sure all endpoints are managed efficiently.
Hexnode got its place as one of the industry leaders in the UEM market because of the variety of features that it offers. The most impressive factor about Hexnode is its app management capabilities. Admins have extensive control over applications thanks to features such as blacklisting, whitelisting, app catalog, and enterprise app distribution. The advanced kiosk features it provides make it a perfect option for ruggedized devices too. Apart from these, there are so many restrictions that the admins can impose to make your ideal work device.
Fleetsmith is also not far back when it comes to capabilities. It comprises of quality real-time reporting, compliance management, and decent user management, which are the core necessities when it comes to a UEM. But it does fall short in some domains, due to its lack of features like location tracking, remote system wipe, and assigning multiple user profiles.
Fleetsmith’s customer support has been managed by Apple since its takeover. So, it’s safe to assume that it has one of the best support teams in the market. It also contains a user guide that is adequate to find your way out of any errors or bugs. On the other hand, Hexnode is also known to be one of the most customer-friendly MDM solutions out there. It earned the title because of its 24×5 constant customer support to help out its clients across the globe. Hexnode constantly gets positive reviews from experienced customers regarding its rapid response to queries. So, it is clear that you won’t be disappointed with the customer support from either of the two.
Both Hexnode and Fleetsmith have a trial feature available that lets users have a taste of the experience before purchasing the full package. While Hexnode provides a 14-day full-feature trial where you can add up to 100 devices, Fleetsmith provides a life-long trial for the first 10 Apple devices that you enroll. Although there is a small catch- you’ll be charged for the entire fleet upon the addition of an 11th device.
The plan pricing of Hexnode comes in five packages- namely Express, Pro, Enterprise, Ultimate, and Ultra with prices ranging from $1 to $5.4 per month. The more you spend, the more features and capabilities you get. Fleetsmith has two plans. The first one is the Fleetsmith Intelligence plan, which has only the basic features and is completely free. The second one is the Fleetsmith Managed plan, which contains all the functionalities coming at a price of $8.25 per device per month. When you think about it, Fleetsmith’s price is quite high, given it lacks some of the crucial features required in a UEM.
Now, you would have quite a good understanding of the pros and cons of both Hexnode and Fleetsmith. It is quite clear that Hexnode does a better job than Fleetsmith in multiple aspects. As Fleetsmith will be no longer accessible to its users after October, it only makes sense to switch to something better that gives more extensive support, like Hexnode. Hexnode has some more beneficial features too other than what was mentioned above. For instance, the Zero-Touch Enrollment methods in Hexnode let you set up brand-new devices even before you first turn the device on. This feature is highly convenient for enterprises to facilitate bulk setup of new endpoints. Also, Hexnode helps to configure encryption features like FileVault and BitLocker, to ensure the corporate data is fully secure.
If these features are not enough, then Hexnode allows seamless containerization of data, which helps employees to separate work profiles from personal data on their devices. The added security features freely let the customers have complete freedom with their endpoints while keeping the corporate data safe and untouched. Another strong suit of Hexnode is the integration options it provides. Customers can integrate their Hexnode portals with Microsoft AD, Azure AD, Okta, and SCCM giving a much more convenient handling of resources.
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Fleetsmith has been successfully managing Apple device fleets for many enterprises over the past few years. Its impeccable ease of use has attracted many SMEs into signing up for it. But we already saw that Hexnode has a slight upper hand on Fleetsmith when it comes to the features. At this point where Fleetsmith’s existing customers are trying to figure out the best way to go forward, it is safe to say that Hexnode will be able to cater to all the customer requirements, if not more, that were met by Fleetsmith. The availability of so many capabilities at a lower price makes this a viable option for enterprises. If an all-round UEM solution is what you seek, then why not go for the best in the business?
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