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Confusion Around Mobile Application Management Can Be a Good Thing

Do you remember the whole glass half-full/glass half-empty mindset?  That’s what came to mind today when I saw an article talking about what Citrix might be thinking as it defines and refines its mobile application management strategy.  I say this particularly in the context of new markets that are often ill-defined and even more frequently ill-understood…ya, I know, I just made up a word (it should have been misunderstood, but it just sounded cooler).

See, I have a theory. When there are burgeoning markets, there are two things that happen.  First, more and more people start talking about it (which is a good thing) and second, more and more people don’t understand what the burgeoning market/trend is all about (which is not a good thing).  We saw this with Mobile Device Management, we are seeing this currently with BYOD/CoIT/COPE and I think we are starting to see this with Mobile Application Management (MAM).

Ahh…the pains of understanding a growing and evolving market.

So, I wanted to share with you all once again what Mobile Application Management is.  The common misconception is that if you have an enterprise app store, you have a Mobile Application Management solution/strategy.  You don’t.  In fact, I’ll argue that the Enterprise App Store is to MAM what BYOD is to CoIT.  It’s the lighting rod/poster child but not the totality.  Think of it as the tip of the iceberg…except for the fact that you are not steering the HMS Titanic.

Mobile Application Management is far more than just having your own private app store.  It’s about strategically deploying apps across your organization through rule-based policies…tied directly into your Active Directory/LDAP infrastructure.  It’s also about removing them should the employee leave the company or change roles within the organization.  It’s also about pushing out updates in a seamless fashion.  It’s about also ensuring that the applications are secure (separate but inextricably linked to mobile application development).  It’s about having a strategy for deploying commercial third party applications to your employee’s mobile devices.  It’s also about measuring and monitoring those applications and making sure that the custom apps that your organization is developing are actually being used and creating value for your employees….think of it as Business Intelligence for your mobile applications.

The author of the article I referenced at the beginning of this missive did say one thing:

You could almost think of mobile application management as a form of app virtualization for cell phones.

Frankly, I have no idea what this statement means and would argue that this fundamentally goes back to the increasing misunderstanding of burgeoning markets.

In any case….I just wanted to call to your attention the excitement around mobile application management.  It’s an exciting and burgeoning space.  We’re just going to need to make sure we tread the waters lightly to ensure that as this market evolves, we all understand it correctly together.


  1. Posted April 24, 2012 at 08:36 | Permalink

    Well said. A few other points that everyone should consider as the mobility management acronym debate rages.

    MDM does more than enforce device security. It is also used to configure device settings such as Wi-Fi, VPN and email so that it is easier to configure and deploy devices in large numbers without making the user have to become a mobile settings expert. These capabilities are most heavily used at initial device deployment, but are also critical as users, devices and services change over time as well.

    MDM is only of value where you have a trusted relationship with the device. If I am a mobile banking customer I want my bank to be able to secure the app and my data, but I do not want them to manage my device.

    MAM can operate in conjunction with MDM and the benefits of both are magnified or it can operate independent of MDM. In either instance MAM provides value, but the same argument can be made for MDM.

    We at BoxTone agree with your point on automated Policy Management and believe that it must be included in MDM, MAM and any other acronym (could EMM be the answer?) that is involved in mobility mangement. That is why we think that the following items are so critical:

    1) Flexibility and choice for Enterprises and Users to select the services and capabilities that best meet the needs of their organization or specific app. We do not believe that it will be a “one size fits all world” even within the same Enterprise.

    2) Automated Policy management so that the complex and ever changing mix of User, Device and App can be defined and managed from a single control point. This will reduce complexity for the Enterprise, provide significantly higher levels of security and deliver seamless services to the mobile user.

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    • Posted April 24, 2012 at 11:08 | Permalink

      Totally agreed Alan that MAM can co-exist with MDM. In fact, to your point regarding what MDM *really* is about, I would argue that they MUST work in tandem. Also, as you eluded to, it goes beyond MDM + MAM, but to encompass a policy-based approach for enterprise mobility management.

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  2. Posted April 25, 2012 at 14:57 | Permalink

    Nice article. I’ll contend that native apps delivered down to the device are of little use until armed with credentials/tokens (representing the employee) to be used on calls to the APIs behind which sit the business data. If this functionality doesnt happen in MAM, where does it fit? Related, if the employee changes roles, it may not be necessary to remove an app – instead just change the permissions attached to the tokens the app has. For instance, if all employees get access to Box, when one changes from Marketing to Sales, there is no need to delete the Box native app from the device, simply change permissions so that only Sales appropriate docs can be accessed.

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