Today I want to step back and look at how far enterprise mobility management has come in the last 5 years. Just think—not too long ago we were writing articles explaining what EMM had to do with desktop virtualization. But today? Now EMM is well established and nearing maturity.
Of course with overall enterprise mobility (notice the lack of the “management” part) we’re still in the very early stages. At many companies we’re just barely progressing beyond email and calendaring, which have been a part of the enterprise mobility experience for well over a decade. However surveys and reports point to the huge potential of enterprise apps, and the zeitgeist now is about mobilizing apps, not EMM and BYOD.
Anyway, taking a look specifically at EMM, we see that the space is fairly mature. (Definitions vary, but at the very least I’m talking about mobile device management, mobile app management, and basic common apps like file sync and share.)
iOS is the prime example here. The first enterprise features came all the way back in 2008 with real Exchange ActiveSync support and the introduction of configuration profiles. And 5 years ago yesterday iOS 4 came out, introducing Apple’s over-the-air mobile device management capabilities. (This anniversary is was the impetus for this article.) More recent Apple EMM updates focus on refining support for special use cases.
For mobile app management, we have multiple approaches, both enabled by the mobile OSes themselves and enabled within individual apps.
Our understanding of EMM concepts are more mature, too. We’re all aware of the need for EMM techniques that respect both user and company needs. And the question of “can we let these newfangled devices into the enterprise?” has been answered (with an affirmative “yes”) at all but the most extremely sensitive levels.
This isn’t to say that everything with EMM is perfect. There are new frontiers—the boundary of what falls under EMM is expanding as desktop OSes have more EMM features and other new types of devices come out.
And there are other issues. Mobile app management still requires tradeoffs. There are lively debates between the proponents of app-based MAM (SDKs and app wrapping) and device-based MAM (relying the OS’s built-in MAM APIs). For ISVs, supporting multiple competing MAM ecosystems can be a huge headache.
Finally, even though many of these concepts and technologies are nearly mature, we’re still in the earlier stages of adoption. But when companies do decide to adopt EMM—likely as a foundation for modern end user computing and mobility initiatives—they’ll find that it has come a long way.