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Managing mobility means understanding EMM

As enterprises become more mobile, enterprises need to understand the tools available to help them manage that growth.

With mobility as the focus of IT within organizations of all types and sizes, managing that mobility is now a key operational requirement. While mobile device management (MDM) still garners most of the attention here, MDM is not really the most important element of a successful mobility management strategy. Indeed, there are a number of distinct approaches, so to maximize the benefits, it's important to understand the big picture of enterprise mobility management (EMM). Complicating the equation is a varied set of requirements, ranging from security and access to a diverse mix of devices and application needs.

Farpoint Group has defined six key managing mobility elements within EMM:

MDM -- As we noted above, MDM is often thought of as the totality of EMM. But MDM is really just an extension of the element-management philosophy that has dominated network management from its early days. To that end, MDM encompasses such capabilities as configuration control, revision management, bulk or image backup/restore and related activities for mobile devices that now reside at the very edge of the organizational network. MDM is appropriate for both organization-owned and BYOD units, but it's best perceived as a necessary but not sufficient element of EMM. As we'll see in the remaining elements, MDM just touches the surface of the significant array of requirements inherent in mobility management.

Mobile application management (MAM) -- Because applications access potentially sensitive data, the philosophy here is to manage what applications are allowed to run. This is accomplished via whitelist and blacklist capabilities. An enterprise app store is often provisioned to provide an official source for permitted apps.

Mobile content management (MCM) -- By using a technique usually called containerization or sandboxing, MCM isolates, monitors and controls the distribution of and access to sensitive information, as defined in an organization's security policy, of course. Containers are encrypted and centrally managed, protected by policies governing data access, copying, emailing and other functions. Sensitive data, which is always encrypted, can be selectively wiped from a device if it is lost, stolen or if it's owned by a worker who leaves the organization. With security the No. 1 concern in most organizations, especially in a BYOD environment, MAM and MCM today constitute the backbone of successful enterprise mobility management.

Mobile policy management (MPM) -- MPM is used to help managers identify potentially negative trends and to correct any problems before they have an impact. Case in point: Are users availing themselves of cellular data when far more cost-effective (and higher-performing) Wi-Fi services are available? Management console alerts, reporting and even advanced analytics can help organizations track how employees use their mobile devices.

Mobile expense management (MEM) -- An outgrowth of the well-established domain of telecom expense management (TEM), MEM is essential for enterprise-owned and liable mobile devices. While BYOD more often involves expense reimbursement based on a fixed amount or percentage, actual expenses can be used here as well. MEM is available from specialized service providers and these services are quite capable and mature.

Identity management (IDM) -- Some of the most innovative IDM products are coming from the wireless LAN industry. That's partially in response to the rise of BYOD, which requires improved identity management, but also because of AAA (authentication, authorization, accounting) protocols like Kerberos. As enterprises become more mobile, they're more likely to adopt improved IDM capabilities as well.

It's easy to see EMM's complementary and synergistic underpinnings, and as functional rollups and a reasonable degree of supplier consolidation are now underway, very comprehensive products and even easy-to-deploy-and-scale cloud-based services are becoming available. But keep this in mind: The range of functionality within EMM applications is clearly quite robust; one size certainly does not fit all. Key features to consider include easy scalability (expect continuing rapid growth in the mobile installed base), ease-of-use for operations personnel and integration with directory services and other installed IT management capabilities.

Next Steps

Choosing the right approach to mobile management

How identity management can help

New devices means new strategy

This was last published in January 2015

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