Mobile Application Management: Is There a New Sheriff in Town?

Mobile Application Managment
Mobile device management (MDM) is a hot area with enterprises today.  Gone are the days of IT dictating the devices, or even the operating systems.  The complexity of managing multiple mobile platforms has brought this cottage industry into the mainstream.  For proof, look no further than the dozens of MDM product offerings.  As the name implies, these products focus on managing (and securing) mobile devices.

In recent years, the new security mantra has become ‘it’s the data, stupid’.  Instead of protecting the device, it’s more important to protect the data on the device.  After all, the device might be worth a few hundred dollars, but the data might be priceless.  To be fair, the data protection technology wasn’t mature, so the next best thing was securing the device.

In comes a new product offering called mobile application management (MAM).  Instead of managing and securing the device, MAM products manage and secure the applications and data.  Some of the features of MAM include:

  • Ability to deliver applications over-the-air (OTA) to the device
  • Push out application updates
  • The ability to remove applications in the event of a lost/stolen device, if the user moves to a different department, if the user leaves the company, or if the device falls out of compliancy with the security policy
  • Enabling and revoking access to the application and its data
  • Reporting capabilities (software inventory, application use, etc.)

Sound familiar?  The truth is many MDM products have MAM capabilities.  Also, enterprise app stores include similar offerings as well (click here for my blog entry on enterprise app stores).

However, there are some interesting security features emerging.  Some vendors are beginning to offer solutions which further secure the application beyond the base operating system.  For example, MDM vendor Good Technology has released a product called Good Dynamics which provides a ‘container’ around the application and its data.  It provides an application security framework (encryption, authentication, etc.) so that developers can focus on other parts of the development process.  Startup Nukona offers a ‘wrapper’ approach for both native and HTML5-based applications.  It can also control features on the phone, like disabling the camera when a specific application is launched.

MAMs could be beneficial for those companies with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs or for contractors and consultants whose devices cannot be managed by the company’s MDM solution.  Users may be a bit less paranoid if the enterprise is only managing a selection of apps instead of the entire device.  Also, the corporate applications could be wiped without affecting the user’s other content.

Is MAM the new sheriff in town?  Right now, I think there is room for both MDM and MAM solutions.  MAM products will need time to prove themselves and evolve, and I don’t expect MDM offerings to sit still.  It’s great that enterprises have more options to secure and manage devices in the wild, wild, west of mobile computing.

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One Comment on “Mobile Application Management: Is There a New Sheriff in Town?”

  1. Pete DeNagy Says:

    Bitzer Mobile, (www.bitzermobile.com,) is a very compelling new entry in the burgeouning Mobile Application Management space. They hit right at the point of your blog post.


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