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Understanding EMM software

There are six components to mobility management software, and they all play a part in enabling a secure mobile workforce. But their overlap can lead to complexity.

Now that mobility has established itself at the center of IT, administrators need a solid understanding of the broad range of management capabilities available. Implementing EMM software is a top priority.

Enterprise mobility management (EMM) has been one of the hottest areas of IT innovation over the past five or so years, and the industry is now undergoing a degree of consolidation. Vendor mergers, acquisitions and functional rollups regularly appear in the news.

There are six core components of EMM, with some functional overlap in most vendors' implementations today. Let's take a look at each and its role in an overall EMM software suite.

Policy enforcement

Formal mobile policy management systems are fading from the scene, it's important to discuss with any EMM vendor exactly how its offerings monitor the implementation of and enforce compliance with mobility policies. For example, a product might allow IT to prevent the copying or printing of sensitive data, or to prevent users from accessing expensive cellular networks when roaming.

Mobile device management

Mobile device management (MDM) was once synonymous with EMM overall. It is primarily focused on assuring that device configuration is in concert with organizational polices and operational requirements. MDM also allows IT to backup and recover device data and remotely locate, lock and wipe devices.

Mobile application management

Today, it's all about the apps. Mobile application management's features include the whitelisting and blacklisting of certain apps, management of bulk application licenses and implementation of enterprise app stores. There is, once again, an emphasis on security and integrity here, but at a more granular level than what MDM provides.

Mobile content management

It's vital to remain current with the evolution of enterprise mobility management software.

Mobile content management (MCM) controls the security and integrity of sensitive information, which is not just good practice, but also a key regulatory requirement in many industries. The most common implementation of MCM is as a container on the mobile device that serves as a repository for any content deemed sensitive in the organizational security policy. IT can then tightly control, monitor and log access to and modifications of this content. Robust MCM offerings extend beyond mobile devices to PCs and the cloud.

Mobile expense management

The management of operating expenses remains critical, especially for global organizations. Mobile expense management is an outgrowth of telecom expense management services, which have traditionally provided auditing and statistical analysis of telecom spending. Determining whether an employee or the employer pays for certain expenses can be complex, especially in the case of BYOD. As a result, simpler approaches -- such as employers paying for a fixed amount or percentage of employees' mobile bills -- are becoming much more common alternatives.

Identity management

Identity management has become the modern-day successor to more traditional authentication, authorization and accounting products. It is not strictly limited to mobility, but many identity management systems come out of the networking market, often from wireless LAN vendors. Look for products that work organization-wide and work across fixed and mobile devices and networks.

Making sense of EMM software features

Boundaries between these technologies blur in many cases, and this functional overlap can make planning and EMM vendor selection more complex. It's vital to remain current with the evolution of EMM software. Regular conversations with vendors are essential. Review new and upcoming capabilities and how they can address evolving enterprise mobility strategies.

A wide variety of mobility management software implementations are available, 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.

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This was last published in November 2015

Dig Deeper on EMM tools | Enterprise mobility management technology

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What's the most crucial component of EMM software in your business?
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Great overview. I don't think people understand this topic or the overlap between the pieces.

--KB

Karen Bannan, commenting on behalf of IDG and Dell
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