MDM vs. MAM

Written by Kelsey Kinzer on October 5, 2022

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In the wake of the pandemic and the rise of fully remote or hybrid office environments, more and more IT teams are wondering whether they should allow employees to use their own devices.

An obvious pro is employee satisfaction. It’s easier to work with devices you’re already familiar with and use on a daily basis. And with mobile application management (MAM) in place, IT admins can still control enterprise apps and data without impacting how the employee uses the device.

But managing corporate-owned devices gives security teams more peace of mind. Mobile device management (MDM) solutions enable them to onboard new employees from anywhere — without disrupting their workflow. In emergencies, they can even wipe a device’s memory completely.

So which solution is better for your organization? In this post, we’ll define MDM and MAM and explain their differences so you can make a confident decision.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) Overview

MDM, or mobile device management, involves managing and securing a company’s mobile devices on-premise or in the cloud.

When a new employee joins the organization, IT staff sends them a new device that already has the correct permissions, network preferences, applications, and more. MDM approaches can also force device updates, provide disk encryption, and be used to enforce other security controls like multi-factor authentication (MFA).

But no matter how many security precautions you take, there will always be cybersecurity threats. The best MDM software automatically generates reports, sends policy-violation alerts, and backs up files and data, among other MDM best practices, so that IT can react to possible signs of a breach. 

When IT suspects malicious activity, a device gets lost or stolen, or an employee leaves the company, they can use MDM to lock, shut down, and wipe a device, reducing the chances of data theft or manipulation.

Mobile Application Management (MAM) Overview

Where MDM focuses on devices, MAM, or mobile application management, ensures the safety and security of enterprise applications — and the sensitive data within them.

Because MAM only safeguards the application and not the device it is housed on, it’s an ideal framework for companies that do not provide their employees with company-sanctioned devices.

MAM software can secure email clients like Outlook, CRM apps like Salesforce, and video conferencing tools like Zoom. Besides securing those applications, MAM software also auto-completes application updates, configures appropriate permissions, monitors application performance, and separates personal and corporate data within applications that may also be linked to personal accounts, such as Gmail.

MAM admins can institute application-level policies around activities such as downloading sensitive data, forwarding emails, or accepting incoming video calls from external parties.

MDM and MAM Key Differences

While MDM and MAM are similar concepts, they have stark differences that IT teams should be aware of when considering their remote security options.

Level of Control

As its name suggests, mobile device management offers IT teams control at the device level, whereas mobile application management controls corporate applications on devices.

More specifically, MDM software encrypts, locks, and tracks various operating systems, allowing IT teams to monitor and wipe devices no matter where they are. As a result, MDM is best suited to distributed teams that use company-owned and operated devices.

MAM software, on the other hand, is built to enable and protect business-related mobile applications down to the feature level. Therefore, MAM makes sense for companies with bring your own device (BYOD) policies that need to secure the data within enterprise apps that employees download to their personal smartphones or tablets.

Security

MDM software often comes with additional security features, such as single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) that protect the entire device and the applications on it.

With MAM, security is dictated by application settings. IT teams must preconfigure corporate apps and push configurations out to personal devices via MAM software. While MAM security is a little less invasive for the user (the company isn’t controlling anything else on their device), the device is still susceptible to attacks.

Compliance and Policy Enforcement

MDM helps IT teams enforce GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, and PCI compliance via policies, which can be applied directly to devices in bulk. In addition, MDM makes it easy to push any necessary updates when policies are revised or added.

Again, MAM works at the application level, meaning that compliance and policies can only be enforced through an application’s settings. If the application already has built-in GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, and PCI compliance capabilities, IT can turn those on, but if not, MAM users need to find another way to abide by those regulations.

IT Workload

Since IT has control over an entire device with MDM, they can ensure routine maintenance and access user’s devices and troubleshoot issues remotely. They can also manage unmanned devices, such as kiosks, from the comfort of their home. While it takes some work to configure MDM software upfront, IT can then deploy the appropriate settings to multiple devices at once with a few clicks.

MAM works similarly, but IT has to jump in and adjust MAM software every time new applications are added, existing applications need an update to their settings (for example, for a new compliance regulation), or old applications need to be removed.

Manage Devices from Anywhere

MDM and MAM have their own unique benefits, offering IT a way to secure and manage mobile devices and applications outside of an office setting. Yet when comparing MDM and MAM, MDM often comes out on top. 

MDM’s ability to scale security, control, and policies across entire devices gives IT more reassurance that they are adequately preventing issues. And if problems arise, MDM software allows IT to identify and address them as quickly as possible.

When evaluating MDM solutions to find the best fit for your organization, there are three important questions to ask yourself: 

  1. What are the specific challenges you need an MDM to help you solve?
  2. What types of devices and operating systems do you need to manage? 
  3. Are you looking for an MDM point tool or would you prefer to unify your stack with a comprehensive device management solution? 

If you need to manage macOS, Linux, Windows, and even iOS devices, and would like a robust set of security controls with detailed reporting, check out the benefits of JumpCloud’s MDM solution as well as our MDM simulation that guides you through configuration. It has zero-touch enrollment, built-in security commands, the ability to customize workstations to your organization’s specifications, and much more. 

JumpCloud

Try out JumpCloud’s modern mobile device management solution for free, up to 10 users and 10 devices.

Kelsey Kinzer

Kelsey is a passionate storyteller and Content Writer at JumpCloud. She is particularly inspired by the people who drive innovation in B2B tech. When away from her screen, you can find her climbing mountains and (unsuccessfully) trying to quit cold brew coffee.

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