Enterprise mobility management software (EMM) provides companies with a way to control how smartphones and tablets interact with enterprise infrastructure. Such oversight is essential for ensuring the security of corporate information.
In its 2016 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Mobility Management Suites, released in June, Gartner identified several key capabilities to look for in EMM suites. These include mobile device management, mobile application management, and mobile content management.
Mobile device management (MDM) offers a way to manage devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, over their lifecycles. It includes features such as inventory tracking, operating system configuration management, provisioning, deprovisioning, remote wiping, and remote control.
Mobile application management (MAM) allows administrators to control apps on devices, app updates, and app policies. The importance of MAM rises when companies have a significant number of internal apps they need to maintain.
Also, organizations dealing with a large number of employee-owned devices may find managing applications to be more palatable to employees than giving IT control of their devices.
[How can you keep your data safe? Read 10 Hot Security Technologies Enterprises Need Now.]
Mobile content management (MCM) is a bit more specific than the other two categories, allowing administrators to define rules governing how corporate content gets distributed and handled in order to meet compliance policies.
EMM suites may have mobile identity and access management (IAM) capabilities as well, to facilitate the installation of certificates for users and devices, for app code signing, and for enforcing security controls through contextual data.
Some vendors approach EMM through containerization – isolating corporate data in a secure area – while others rely on policy controls, a method which tends to provide a better user experience.
Choosing the right EMM suite requires IT organizations to understand their needs and the capabilities of the various options. EMM software may, for example, require integration of vendor-specific APIs, which may not appeal to every company.
IT organizations should start by asking questions about things like device ownership, mobile operating system support, the kinds of applications supported, and whether different users require different access rights and capabilities.
Security should receive special consideration. While EMM, as the abbreviation suggests, is about management, the purpose of management tools isn't merely to save IT teams from onerous repetitive provisioning work. It's to protect valuable corporate data and brand reputation. IT personnel should make sure their organization's data-protection requirements align with capabilities of their EMM software.
What follows are nine EMM vendors singled out by Gartner for leadership and vision. IT professionals using EMM suites may have different ideas about what works for them. For example, the handful of IT professionals reviewing Cisco Meraki Systems Manager through Gartner Peer Reviews gave the software a higher average score (4.6 out of 5) than EMM suites placed at better positions in Gartner's Magic Quadrant. So, consider Gartner's advice as a starting point, rather than an answer to all your organization's mobility management challenges. There's no substitute for due diligence.
Once you've reviewed the options here, tell us about your own enterprise mobility management experiences. Have you tried any of these tools? Are there other solutions -- either technological or cultural -- that have worked in your organization? Share your experiences in the comments section below.Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio