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mobile application management (MAM)

How MAM works

There are several different approaches to mobile application management.

Software development kits (SDKs) and application wrapping. These methods involve additional code being added to an app, either during – SDKs — or after — app wrapping — the development process. This code connects the app to back-end MAM software, enabling IT administrators to apply and enforce policies on the app and take other measures to protect its data.

Containerization. This approach, also known as application sandboxing, isolates an app or group of apps from other apps on a device. Data within this isolated area, known as a container, cannot leave, and apps within the container cannot interact with those on the outside. An extreme example of containerization is dual persona technology, which creates two completely separate user interfaces — one for work and one for personal use — on the same device.

Device-level MAM. A more recent development in the MAM market is the ability to control and secure apps through the MDM protocols built into mobile operating systems. Apple’s Managed Open In feature, introduced in iOS 7, gives IT the ability to control how apps share data with each other. An admin can prevent a user from taking a document received in their corporate email app and uploading it to a personal cloud storage app, for example.

Google Android uses sandboxing to create a secure, managed work profile that contains corporate apps and data on personal devices. Samsung offers similar capabilities on its Android devices through its Knox technology.

Mobile application management in the mobile lifecycle
Mobile application management (MAM) in the mobile lifecycle

The major drawback to app wrapping, MAM SDKs and third-party containerization is that they do not always work across all mobile apps, operating systems and devices. The wrapping and SDK approaches require access to an app’s source code, which is not always available — especially for apps in a public app store. And Apple does not allow developers to abstract apps from iOS, which containerization and dual persona require.

In response to this challenge, a group of enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors formed the AppConfig Community in 2016. AppConfig aims to ensure more standardized use of MAM by promoting the use of the MAM features built into mobile operating systems over the use of third-party MAM technologies.

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