Jack’s 2015 MAM recap: The more things change, the more they stay the same... (Part 2 of 2)

MAM that's built into apps.

What happened in mobile app management this year? Did MAM get any easier or any more straightforward? Is one type of MAM going to win?

This is what I’m addressing for my last article of 2015. Yesterday in Part 1 I explained how I think about MAM and talked about MAM that's built into devices; today I’m writing about MAM that’s built into apps. 

App-level MAM in 2015

With all the talk of iOS 9 and Android for Work and ACE, you’d be excused for thinking that app-level MAM is going out. But it’s not. There are many situations where devices can’t be managed, so building management into apps themselves make the most sense.

Some users will always be weary of letting their employers manage their devices, and there will always be privacy and trust issues around BYOD. Enrolling a device in MDM is also an unfamiliar experience.

Another growing set of use cases is mobility for contractors and partners. Besides the fact that you probably don’t want to manage these devices, you also can’t manage them anyway if they’re already enrolled in another company’s MDM. These scenarios will spread as mobility for the “extended enterprise” continues to grow.

So app-level MAM in all its forms (SDKs, app wrapping, special apps from MAM vendors, MAM ecosystems, etc.) is here to stay.

One thing that is going away is the idea of using app wrapping tools to modify and redistribute apps from public app stores. Bluebox offered this, and Citrix demonstrated it, but new language in Apple’s enterprise agreement made it clear that it’s a no-go.

No app wrapping for public apps means that we still have to contend with the tradeoffs between app-level MAM and device-level MAM—we still can’t manage “any” app on “any” device.

Another problem as that most vendors’ app-level MAM frameworks are proprietary. Consolidation (like when BlackBerry bought Good) or market dominance can help solve the problem, though.

These issues come to a head when companies can’t reach an agreement with app makers to add MAM to their apps; when app makers can’t keep up with all the app-level MAM frameworks; or when app makers choose not to collaborate with certain MAM providers. (I’m talking about Microsoft here, which won’t let other MAM vendors wrap or add their SDKs to the Office mobile apps.) The result is that companies might not be able to manage the apps they want to in the ways they want to.

Virtual mobile infrastructure (read more about it here) could solve some of these problems, but we’re still waiting on key issues like Google Mobile Services certification for vendors.

Remember that Android for Work also includes an app-level MAM component for Android 4.0 to 4.4. In theory it’s another possible answer to propriety MAM woes, but hardly anyone is talking about it or supporting it. MobileIron supports it, but several other vendors have told me that it’s not really worth their time since it’s a legacy thing anyway.

While MAM has its challenges, I don’t want to paint a terrible picture. Overall, we’re a lot better off than we were just a few years ago, and more companies are having success with mobile apps every day.

In 2015 it’s also been very interesting to follow EMM vendors that concentrate on app-level MAM—here I’m talking about Mocana, Apperian, and Bluebox. They all talk a lot about being used in combination with other MDM vendors, which I think is great. If just a few best-of-breed MAM vendors rise to the top, that could help ease the propriety MAM woes as well as let other EMM vendors concentrate on other things they do better.

Also, you can see the obvious potential for the likes of Okta, Centrify, Pulse Secure, and others to partner with Mocana, Apperian, and Bluebox to cover all MAM scenarios.

Mobile email in 2015

There’s also been a lot of action in third-party email clients this year. Good brought out a new and completely revamped client; Microsoft Outlook Mobile is popular; VMware promised improvements for AirWatch Inbox and bought Boxer. Dropbox dropping Mailbox is the anomaly, but that says more about their focus than it does the market for email clients.

Nacho Mail is a new one coming on the scene. Nacho Mail is made by Nacho Cove, founded by Chris Perret, Jeff Enderwick, and Steve Scalpone, the same people that created Nukona, one of the first app wrapping companies (which was acquired by Symantec).

Speaking of Symantec and email clients, Symantec isn’t emphasizing EMM as much as they used to, but Nitrodesk Touchdown is still available.

What about MAM in 2016?

Will MAM get any easier in 2016? Will the tradeoffs disappear?

I’m not holding out much hope for a true app-level MAM standard anymore, but there are many things we can look forward to: iOS 10 bringing more MAM improvements; Android for Work will spread; More app makers will want to add management and security features in their apps; it’s easier to add MAM to in-house apps; and the spread of enterprise mobility in general will push the industry to keep making MAM better.

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