MDM vs MAM vs EMM – Enterprise Mobility – Making sense of it all!

The timeline of device proliferation in the few decades or so has been one of fascinating beauty. Who would’ve thought that from a time when personal computers were thought of as being excessive and queer, the state of owning multiple devices by a single individual would become extremely commonplace? As much change as the explosion of devices has brought about to any given individual, the effect has been felt equally keenly by organizations everywhere who have employees with specific device preferences.

So if you are a CIO in charge of enterprise mobility, how do you navigate through the maze of three-letter acronyms, to find the right mobility solution? Before we get there let’s take some history lessons, to make sense of the present!

It all began when Blackberry enabled mobile devices to act as business tools. They also made secure control and management of company-owned devices possible through the Blackberry Enterprise Server. As subsequent devices become more sophisticated for business usage, the tendency toward the BYOD (Bring your own device) trend increased by leaps and bounds. It left organizations with little choice but to find definitive measures to secure, control and manage multitudes of devices and mobile platforms.

Enter Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions. Mobile Device Management involves securing, controlling and managing devices that are owned by organizations as well as BYOD devices. Wireless distribution of policies and profiles, digital certificates, applications, data and configurations settings for all device types form the functions of MDM.  Primitive MDM solutions merely tracked the devices and applied policies that were simple. However, it became increasingly clear that advanced capabilities such as segregating work and personal data, any-time access to data and documents were also required.

Another option for organizations to consider was Mobile Applications Management (MAM). In comparison to MDM, MAM provides lesser degree of control over the device, focusing instead on control over applications. In many ways, this is considered preferable to traditional MDM solutions where the full-device control could sometimes lead to compromise with regards to personal data on the device. On the other hand, availability of applications for a specific mobile platform could be limited since every app requires unique coding to work with individual MAM products.

MDM and MAM eventually grew in functionality to comprise what is more accurately referred to as Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM). EMM is understood to be a culmination of technologies such as MDM, Mobile Content Management (MCM) and MAM. EMM is fast evolving beyond the point of damage control (brought about by BYOD) to the point where it deals with “business processes, applications, user acceptability and, ultimately, greater profitability”.

As devices and processes get more sophisticated, MDM vendors have matured and are in the process of consolidation. Pure play MDM solutions will wane as vendors merge to create all-encompassing set of products (technically EMM but still referred to widely as MDM). For instance, Zenprise, a purely MDM solution, was acquired by Citrix in 2012 to create Citrix Xenmobile which is a complete EMM solution.

According to research conducted by Info-Tech Research Group Inc in 2013, the MDM vendor landscape comprised AirWatch, Citrix and SOTI formed the champions league whereas MobileIron was regarded as a forerunner as well as the leader in innovations. Info-Tech also mentions in the report that although pure MDM solutions have been facing decline in pricing, vendors are keenly involved in introducing add-on functionality at additional cost.

Gartner’s Magic Quandrant for EMM suites in 2014 had similar revelations. AirWatch, MobileIron, IBM, Citrix and Good Technology were at the forefront.

Considering how the BYOD trend has been snowballing, it has gone past the point where organizations can sit back and chew upon the idea of rolling out MDM/EMM solutions.

The conundrum for mid-market CIOs though is that, the EMM solutions could be far too overwhelming and pricey for limited needs. Custom MDM type of solutions often turn out to be cheaper  and fits the needs better, here & now (but not state of the art, as the market evolves rapidly) , but only in the medium term as a via media till the organization grows enough to switch to an off-the-shelf provider.

Need help with building solutions on top of MDM? Wondering if you need a custom-MDM type solution to bootstrap before you buy from a leading vendor? Tell us and we can help you in finding the right developers who’ve built MDM solutions before!


Building an app? Tell us about your project

We'll connect you with the right team for your project, for free!