Mobile Application Management Primer

Scott Calonico

ipad and mobile phonesAre you struggling to adequately manage BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) at your client sites? 

If so, a mobile application management (MAM) solution may be exactly what you need to regain control.

Although there’s some crossover, it’s important to appreciate that MAM is essentially distinct from MDM (Mobile Device Management). The latter is primarily about controlling mobile devices on a hardware / firmware level, while MAM is all about the apps.

Let’s imagine a privately owned iPad, which one of your client’s employees wishes to bring on site and use for their work. When it comes to applications, there are three main types that you need to consider from a management perspective:

  • Personal apps that the employee has purchased / downloaded themself.
  • Business focused applications that the employee will use in the course of their work that the client company is prepared to pay for.
  • Custom enterprise applications that your client may wish to deploy to the iPad and control the use of.

Traditional mobile device management solutions don’t usually give you the level of application control you need to comply with a sensible BYOD policy, and this is where MAM comes in.

A good MAM solution will do all of the following:

  • Enable clear separation between business apps and personal apps, resulting in compliance with information security policies for the client and privacy for the user.
  • Allow precise control of sensitive business data: remote wiping, access control (requiring on-site or VPN connectivity to access certain apps), and data collection prevention.
  • Facilitate app wrapping (adding code to existing applications to further control how they work).
  • Allow custom app stores to be deployed, so that users can access private apps or those that have been purchased for their use by the company. (Products already exist that integrate with Apple’s Volume Purchase Program).
  • Integrate with existing mobile device management systems.
  • Disseminate “terms of use” information to employees that explain what the MAM solution is doing and what data and usage information network admins have access to.

Looking at the list above not only shows how much MAM can do, it also highlights just how many things MSPs truly need to think about to have truly effective control of mobile devices, especially those that are personally owned and used as part of a BYOD program.

As with so many such things however, MSPs can (and should) see this as an opportunity. The majority of businesses are keen to see tablets and smartphones used effectively, so encouraging the use of MAM should be relatively easy, especially when clients are clearly shown the risks of a half-baked BYOD process. It’s time for MSPs to become familiar with a few MAM solutions and start getting them profitably deployed.