Evaluating MAM SDKs and wrappers is still hard. What can we do?

The EMM community would benefit from some head-to-head testing.

Mobile app management SDKs and app wrappers still have some of the same inherent challenges they’ve had for years.

They’re still generally proprietary, so you can only use SDKs/wrappers and management platforms that are made to go together. The proprietary nature also means that on devices, apps using different SDKs/wrappers to implement DLP can’t do secure app-to-app sharing—instead, they’re in different silos. They don’t all work with all types of apps, or sometimes break app features. And when mobility teams dig into SDKs and wrappers, some of them just are not robust enough or lack certain features.

For all these difficulties, SDKs/wrappers—that is to say, MAM features that are incorporated directly into apps and don’t rely on MDM—are an essential part of EMM. (Anyone who says otherwise is probably being paid to say so.) iOS 7+, Samsung Knox, and now especially Android enterprise have certainly enabled a meaningful shift in use cases, but scenarios that involve contractors, those who work for multiple companies, gig workers, BYOD (depending on policy) and other extended enterprise roles all call for MAM to be built in at the app level.

(There’s more on EMM use cases in this infographic. By the way, I should note that most vendors prefer terms other than app wrapping, but they’re still talking about the same concept—MAM features added to an already-compiled app.)

If you’re using the SDK/wrapper provided by your EMM vendor, you can at least rely on interoperability with your EMM vendor’s core apps, such as browsers and email clients. However, these bundled SDKs and wrappers may not meet the security and functionality requirements you have for certain use cases, and you EMM vendor choice is probably based on many factors aside from this functionality.

There are plenty of freestanding MAM providers that offer SDK and app wrapping technology. These have the advantage that you can choose a best of breed product that meets your needs. If you have some other apps from your primary EMM provider, you may miss out on app-to-app DLP between apps, but in many extended enterprise use cases, this likely doesn’t matter.

It’s not uncommon for a company to be using multiple EMM and MAM products. Currently, some vendors have APIs that can be used to integrate the management platform—most notably, the Microsoft Graph API for Intune—so from the admin side, it can at least be easier to use two products together.

A critical underlying issue is that there are very few head-to-head comparisons of MAM SDKs and wrappers based on independent testing. For years, I’ve followed experts that set up labs and do extensive independent testing of desktop virtualization and remote graphics products. Now, I can’t help but think how useful it would be to have this type of testing for MAM products.

For a few months I’ve been asking around in the EMM space, and I haven’t come across anyone that’s doing this. So here’s an open call: If you’re doing any independent MAM testing, know of any that’s going on, or are interested in digging in, I’d like to hear about it, write about it, or have you write about it. More importantly, it would be very valuable for the EMM industry.

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