Jun 11 2013

How to Choose MAM Software

Mobile application management solutions are still evolving, so heed these tips when selecting a strategy.

Deploying a successful enterprise mobility management plan hinges on a number of elements: the mobile devices themselves, the applications, expense management, personnel and policies.

Of these, the mobile application management (MAM) space is one of the most interesting. Managing mobile applications can be the key to secure, manageable and cost-effective mobile operations.

But because MAM remains a rapidly evolving technology, selecting the right products and services can be a complex undertaking. IT leaders must first understand the scope of MAM and how it’s different from the more common mobile device management (MDM).

Whereas MDM focuses on device configuration, basic security (local encryption, antimalware and antivirus, firewalls, and related capabilities and policies), MAM is all about making sure that only authorized applications are running on the device or in the cloud, and that (in many cases) the sensitive data accessed by those apps is protected. The potential benefits are undeniable.

To get the most out of MAM, take the following steps:

1. Define objectives before selecting a MAM solution.

Before settling on a product, define operational objectives, policies and user agreements regarding mobility — particularly with respect to security, budgets, expense management, support and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives — to set the scope of the capabilities required in a proposed MAM solution.

2. Decide on an overall MAM technical strategy.

Several MAM solutions use a technique called application wrapping, in which an app’s scope of function is limited by policies set in a given MAM product. While no new coding is usually required here, some software development resources may be needed to assure proper implementation. There’s also a role for virtualization, particularly on the device side with apps running in the cloud. This eases overall implementation but places more burden on the network. And finally, dual-persona solutions create and isolate the personal and business sides of a mobile device to eliminate personal apps as a mobile management concern. Enterprise apps and associated data are completely isolated and protected.

3. Match functional capabilities to requirements.

While today’s evolving MAM solutions offer a broad range of features, at the core is the ability to distribute authorized applications (typically via an enterprise app store function) and the ability to allow or deny the execution of particular apps (commonly known as whitelisting or blacklisting).

Keep in mind that some MAM solutions allow sensitive data to be containerized or sandboxed. This prevents unauthorized copying and distribution and enables the selective destruction of enterprise data on compromised devices rather than the brute-force device wiping of most MDM solutions.

4. Check for overlap, conflicts and integration issues.

Depending on how they’re implemented, MAM systems can provide some degree of overlap with other enterprise mobility management strategies and solutions. That’s why staged rollouts are recommended. IT managers must evaluate any proposed solution in terms of how it will fit the management strategies and systems already in place. Management visibility is vital, both through real-time monitoring of activity and alerts, and detailed management reports, which are key to auditing usage and discovering potential problems.

MAM offers one of the most interesting and productive pieces of overall enterprise mobility management and — with just a few cautionary notes — one of the most effective as well.