Is Mobile Device Management dead and buried? Not a chance

M (alphabet soup) M

There is heavy competition amongst software vendors to win the battle of the acronym, with Mobile Device Management (MDM), Mobile Content Management (MCM), Mobile Application Management (MAM), and more. So what do these mean and which one is the priority?

It turns out that most M*M technologies are really just component parts of comprehensive MDM; they do not exist outside of MDM.

The good news is that modern mobile operating systems are getting better at supporting these functions. The Apple Volume Purchase Program (VPP), per-app VPN, and enhanced data controls make it easier for enterprises to manage content, apps, and access – while various Android vendors continue to differentiate their devices with their own similar enhancements. While device standardisation may be difficult, it's not impossible – although it will impose some "homework" duties on IT to understand what is possible.

A conflict of visions

It would be misleading to suggest that top-down lockdown has disappeared. It remains the best approach to management and security for many organisations, because the best approach can only be determined by your specific requirements for security, regulatory compliance, and the business.

Fortunately, many highly secure options are available. Persistent endpoint security provides the ability to track and secure all the devices in a deployment. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones can be remotely managed and secured to ensure – and most importantly prove – that endpoint IT compliance processes are properly implemented and enforced.

Samsung is among the market leaders, beginning with the extensive Samsung SAFE management API and continuing with Samsung KNOX, a containerisation technology built into their version of the Android operating system. This provides a high security, high control approach to mobility. The US Department of Defence, which clearly has high security requirements, has approved the use of Samsung KNOX for their devices.

However, as with the base operating systems, KNOX is best managed using the same user-centric, policy-driven practices made necessary by the free-for-all that is BYOD. In the end, top-down lockdown must be one of many options implemented to support the mix of devices and users within most organisations.

The bottom line

Reports of the death of MDM are greatly exaggerated. Instead, we're shifting to a new understanding of endpoint management – a policy-driven, user-centric framework that accounts for data, apps and security across multiple operating systems, form factors, and owners.