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With the advent of mobile devices and cloud-based systems, one of the biggest challenges for enterprises has been securing devices and configuring applications. And that’s where Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) comes into play.

What is EMM?

As smartphone and tablet computing devices have become part of the working day in many companies, managing these devices and the applications running in them has become increasingly significant for many firms.

Enterprise Mobility Management is a set of tools, processes and technology focused on managing mobile devices, wireless networks, and other mobile computing services in a business context.

Common tasks for EMM systems are enforcing device and app security, enabling Single-Sign-On schemes, distributing applications from a central AppStore and remotely configuring devices and applications.

Enterprise Mobility Management is the foundation of any enterprise mobility suite. It relies on the combination of an agent app, which is installed on an endpoint device, and server software running in the corporate data center or in the cloud.

Administrators use the EMM server’s management console to set policies and configure settings, and the agent running in company devices enforces these policies and configures device and application settings. This is accomplished by integrating the device agent with APIs built into mobile operating systems.

Components of EMM systems

Although the actual names may change among providers, there are five core components of EMM.

Components of Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) platforms

  • Mobile Device Management (MDM)
    MDM is an underlying technology that remotely manages the lifecycle of mobile devices and their respective platforms (operating systems, mobile networks, etc.). MDM usually involves the installation of unique hardware and networking profiles on mobile devices.
  • Mobile Application Management (MAM)
    MAM tools allow organizations to manage mobile applications instead of hardware. MAM covers the deployment and updating of mobile apps (either through custom app stores or direct installations), including administrative push support and app license management. This component takes care of application configuration details.
  • Mobile Identity Management (MIM)
    MIM systems can take various forms in an EMM framework, encompassing user and device certificates, code signing and validation, authentication and single sign-on schemes.
  • Mobile Content Management (MCM)
    MCM is another component of EMM, focused on managing access to content on mobile devices. According to Gartner, MCM has four mail roles: content security, content access, content push and file-level protection.

Boundaries between these components blur in many cases (depending on the provider and implementation details), and this functional overlap can make planning and vendor selection a complex task. Not every component is required in every case, but the accelerating mobilization of users demands an EMM strategy that addresses — at a minimum — cost, security and productivity.

Companies need to take this into account when planning and selecting an EMM provider. The challenge is to adopt technologies that build on top of security and support the digital needs of your employees.

The bottom line

As the percentage of mobile-only users is quickly surpassing desktop-only users, choosing the right EMM platform is a key decision that can have a large and long-lasting impact on your business.

A wide variety of mobility management implementations are available (e.g. Air-Watch, Soti MobiControl, Relution, Google, etc.), with management servers both on-premises and, increasingly, in the cloud.

The latter is a clear trend, with obvious benefits in terms of availability, ease of use, scalability and often cost. But always let overall organizational objectives be your guide.

Look carefully at both common capabilities and emerging features to assess fit with your workforce needs, today and tomorrow. Finally, consider each product’s ease of use, scalability, adaptability and cloud deployment options—private, public and hybrid—to make the best choice for your enterprise.

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