HomeChannelsAnalyst angleAnalyst Angle: How Mobile Device Management (MDM) migrated into Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)

Analyst Angle: How Mobile Device Management (MDM) migrated into Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)

It all started innocently enough with software to manage mobile device assets. Then, with an explosion in mobile devices, software & services, MDM has evolved into much more capable mobile software that does many things besides managing mobile devices, and thus Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) has taken over.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) had been the mainstream of enterprise mobility for over a decade. The driving force for the creation of MDM was the flood of mobile devices that enterprises had to manage. First, it was laptops but then BlackBerry hit the market and enterprises had double the number of mobile devices to manage.

At first, the primary focus was to keep track of the assets and second to make sure that the right apps were loaded on the device. If someone deleted an app, the MDM software would reload the proper app code. And, the assets enabled the enterprise to make sure that the employee was using the proper device and not one from another employee.

Thus, MDM software was focused on helping the enterprise maintain the integrity of the mobile devices issued to employees and the software running on those devices. Then the iPhone entered the market in 2007 and the problem of managing mobile devices became more challenging. At first, Apple didn’t allow software firms access to the mobile device remotely. It was a completely closed environment initially.

Although it made it close to impossible for enterprises to manage employees with iPhones, it resulted in MDM taking a step back. Here employees loved the iPhone and wanted to use them at work, but IT couldn’t manage them as they could prior devices such as BlackBerry. By 2009, Apple had worked out allowable remote access protocols for MDM software vendors like AirWatch and MobileIron.

But, then Apple opened up the App store so that third parties could build apps to run on the iPhone. Such third parties included the enterprises own IT department. Thus, enterprises started building apps, line of businesses started building apps and third-party enterprise app developers started building apps.

You can see that the demand for MDM software and services skyrocketed. Policies had to be established regarding which employees could use which apps. Other policies had to be established regarding what the employee had to pay for and what the enterprise would pay for. Then, enterprises needed to segregate data as well as the apps. Security had to be integrated.

What started as a simple process to keep track of mobile devices quickly grew in a few short years into a wide range of services many of which were as important or sometimes more important than keeping track of the devices themselves.

The name ‘Mobile Device Management (MDM)’ didn’t any longer apply. Major enterprise mobile software firms were now doing a lot more than just managing mobile devices. Over the past few years, enterprise software firms began to adopt a broad category name for their product, and enterprise mobility management (EMM) took hold. MDM has been relegated to define a subset of the total service offerings from enterprise mobile software vendors.

EMM software has continued to evolve to now include support for Internet of Things (IoT) to provide support for sensors and other devices that are not necessarily assigned to an employee. It seems that EMM software vendors frequently announce support for more devices and more situations.  Sensors, low bandwidth data communications, and security are now integral parts of EMM software.

Strategic insights
We are now at the start of another major evolution of EMM software. Take a look at what AirWatch (now a product line in VMware) and VMware have done to create Workspace ONE, a virtual desktop environment for both desktop and mobile PCs, smartphones and tablets. Workspace ONE replaces the Windows or MacOS or iOS user interface for their interface that provides a secure environment with single sign-on for the user’s apps, security, mobile device management and much more.

EMM now has even more things in which to manage and take care of. In a way, it’s like Workspace ONE has become a superset of MDM and EMM since so much of the user’s environment is being separated out and managed by VMware. I expect that we’ll see this trend continue by other EMM vendors as well.

Thus, MDM did a natural migration into EMM and now EMM has evolved further to support IoT, the virtual desktop and much more. Enterprise IT departments and lines of business are the ones that are gaining: they now have a rich set of services that help manage the total mobile environment, not just laptops, smartphones and tablets.

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