How to Determine if MAM or MDM is Best for Your Business

Post by
John Snyder

If you want to secure data and applications on mobile devices connected to your systems, you have two primary ways to accomplish this. One approach is leveraging Mobile Application Management (MAM) services to construct a logical container that all your company’s data or applications will reside in, separating your corporate functions from any personal or unrelated applications on the mobile device. MAM is a terrific option to ensure any company can manage applications and data that are used.

The other approach is to use a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution that logically takes full control over the mobile device, including giving you the ability to remotely wipe all data on the device from a central console. MDM is also a fantastic approach to addressing an organization’s need to set security standards and control mobile devices, providing more tools and capabilities than MAM.

Best for BYOD: MAM

Any organization facing the choice between MAM or MDM has likely already determined which path they should take based around how they provision mobile devices. If your organization has a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) stance or policy, then you should view MAM as your only available option for securing your data and applications. The chances of staff resistance, not to mention the potential moral hazards, are compelling reasons to avoid deploying an MDM solution to logically seize full control over someone’s personal device. If your organization does purchase, provision, and manage mobile devices for your staff as a general rule or per policy, then an MDM solution is the ideal fit and will provide a more robust asset tracking and control features than an organization would expect for the amount invested in the mobile hardware and software.

The ease of deployment for MAM and MDM also fits with the intended audience. Turning on MAM and restricting access to specific applications except through a dedicated portal is straightforward. With MAM enablement on your Microsoft 365 tenant, you can readily push applications securely to all enrolled mobile devices, keep them up-to-date, and ensure these apps are properly used according to your company policies. The goal of MAM is both to clarify for everyone in the company what applications are formally approved by the organization, as well as ensure that they can use these applications securely.

Using app protection policies, the organization’s Microsoft administrator can provide specific and granular controls to ensure that the Information Security Policies of the organization are strictly adhered to on mobile devices. This is a role that Net Friends performs for our NetVisor customers who have completed a MAM project with us. We have found that the primary challenge with deploying MAM are with communication with impacted staff to ensure they understand the business’s need for the MAM solution.

A mobile device that is MAM-enabled will consume more compute resources since the MAM container is encrypted. We have observed older smartphones, especially older Android phones, do not perform well with MAM solutions, so having an inventory of device models is helpful to assess what portion of the staff might need to upgrade their phone to a newer model that can support MAM.


Best for Company-Issued Devices: MDM

Mobile Device Management projects are bigger undertakings than MAM projects. The main challenge: enrolling devices. Since there are multiple device types, the process to enroll Macs, Androids, and Windows devices all differ in important ways. It takes an expert team like we have at Net Friends to ensure any MDM rollout is smooth and properly orchestrated. Once an organization goes through the transition process to bring existing devices into their MDM program, future device deployments are so much easier. Also, swapping out damaged or end-of-life devices is seamless for the employee.

Leveraging the Best of Both Worlds

Deploying MDM is more involved than MAM, but there are a lot of overlapping steps required for architecting and deploying either solution. These two solutions can be complementary. An organization can adopt a hybrid approach to both secure company-issued devices and only secure the applications and data on BYOD devices. Net Friends regularly sets up both MDM and MAM solutions, but it’s rare when a small business (SMB) customer has a combination of both company-issued and BYOD devices. Typically, an organization has selected only one approach, so either the MDM or MAM solution addresses the majority of the organization’s security and compliance goals.

Whichever path your organization chooses, MAM or MDM or both, you are already ahead of the game! Securing mobile devices is so vital and too often overlooked, even though for many businesses this is where the majority of the work occurs. Our customers know that Net Friends is here to help implement mobile device protection solutions that fit their needs.

If you’re interested in exploring MAM or MDM implementation for your workforce, reach out to Net Friends to learn more.

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At Net Friends, we believe in the power of human expertise. While we leverage AI to enhance our content and processes, all blog posts are written and edited by our knowledgeable staff. You can trust you are getting insights directly from our team.

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