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Five questions to ask when evaluating EMM vendors

Enterprise mobility expert Brian Katz offers advice to help businesses choose the right vendor to meet their needs. Feature breadth, deployment model and support for new operating systems should all factor into the decision.

BOSTON -- Despite recent market consolidation, there's still no shortage of EMM vendors to choose from.

The selection -- or selections -- an organization makes should depend on its specific business requirements, the needs of its employees and anticipated changes in the enterprise mobility management (EMM) market. At BriForum 2014 here this week, Brian Katz, head of mobility engineering at a major pharmaceutical manufacturer in New Jersey, shared these questions any decision-maker should ask when evaluating EMM vendors:

How quickly do you support new devices and operating systems? Apple's iOS 8 will offer a slew of new management and security APIs and Android L will feature Android for Work, a new secure data container. But, depending on their access to the operating system betas, some EMM vendors may not support these capabilities as soon as they become available.

Where are we and where do we want to be in three to five years? As the Internet of Things and wearable technology evolve, simply supporting the latest smartphones and tablet OSes may not be sufficient for EMM vendors to meet businesses' needs.

"You have to think of trends that are coming and how you want to enable your people," Katz said.

You have to think of trends that are coming.
Brian Katz

Do you offer MAM and MCM? The EMM market has moved beyond mobile device management (MDM). Mobile application management (MAM) and mobile content management (MCM) allow IT administrators to control only corporate assets, which leaves end users' personal apps and data untouched. That's what employees want and organizations must choose EMM vendors with those capabilities, Katz said.

Should we use SaaS or an on-premises product? Software as a service (SaaS) doesn't require an upfront infrastructure investment and it can be easier to update. But on-premises software may be required for security or compliance reasons. A hybrid approach can also work here; an organization may do MDM and MAM via the cloud but keep MCM in-house.

Do you offer the whole package? The goal of EMM is to enable a mobile workforce. Legacy apps and infrastructure often impede progress toward that goal, and sometimes MDM, MAM and MCM aren't enough. Technologies such as desktop and application virtualization can help bridge that gap, bringing Windows apps to smartphones and tablets until more mobile-friendly options emerge.

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