By Jason Brown and Chris Coughlin, CDW Mobility Architects

In today’s work environment, where a single user sometimes carries three or more mobile devices, organizations may find it tempting to give up on the idea of any IT control over mobile users. But that’s a mistake. Poorly managed mobile deployments can create serious headaches for organizations of every size in any industry. 

In our experience, the challenge for IT leaders is to determine which option will work best for managing their mobility deployments. Mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM) and application virtualization are among the most effective solutions. Let’s take a look at each and consider scenarios where they may make the most sense.

Mobile device management:

MDM makes sense for environments in which users accept IT control of the entire device and use only a few applications, such as email, expense management or customer relationship management. MDM solutions discover and track user devices and can be configured to require passcodes to access devices. MDM also allows IT staff to wipe a device remotely if it is lost or stolen, or when a user leaves the organization. It also enables IT teams to establish and enforce a variety of device-centric policies — for example, restricting the use of features such as the camera or GPS capability. However, some users are uncomfortable with this level of control, especially those who use personal devices for work or who have personal data and applications on enterprise devices.

Mobile application management:

MAM goes deeper and IT doesn’t control the entire device, just select applications. MAM contains and secures enterprise applications and data on a device to prevent users from engaging in unauthorized conduct, such as copying or sharing sensitive information. Containerization protects enterprise data from malware and other hazards, and allows IT teams to wipe only enterprise applications and data from a device remotely. This wiping can be done granularly, so enterprise data, such as contacts, email and calendars, are deleted while leaving the user’s family pictures and personal apps intact. MAM solutions sometimes include secure browsers and file-sharing apps that substitute secure email file links for actual file attachments stored on the device. This is a good solution for bring-your-own-device environments, as it gives users more personal freedom while keeping enterprise applications and data secure. Several mobile management solutions, such as VMware AirWatch, Citrix XenMobile, IBM MaaS360 and MobileIron, combine MDM and MAM.

Application and client virtualization:

Virtual apps and desktops run completely on data center servers and stream the content directly to the device, so no data is stored locally on a device. To facilitate this, internet connectivity is required, though if that connection is lost, users can start up right where they left off when they reconnect. App virtualization solutions such as Citrix XenApp or VMware AppVolumes stream individual application content or shared “published” Windows desktops, while virtual desktop solutions such as VMware Horizon or Citrix XenDesktop have the option to stream individually owned persistent Windows desktops.

Virtualization is a great solution for various scenarios:

  • Providing access to Windows desktop applications:

    Users can run them on nearly any device and operating system, such as thin clients, Chromebooks and tablets – with the same look to the environment.

  • Delivering applications that need computing horsepower:

    Running apps on a server enables an organization to support them with the necessary processing and storage power for a more satisfying user experience.

  • Switching between many applications to get work done:

    CDW sales staff often works with as many as 15 applications at a time. With virtualization, they can do so smoothly.

  • Education and healthcare environments:

    Applications that handle highly sensitive data, such as student or medical information, are governed by strict regulations, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. In a virtual environment, this data is stored not on a mobile device but rather at a secure data center, where IT staff can ensure regulatory compliance.

  • Temporary field work, such as a disaster response situation

Deciding which solution to use requires careful consideration of organizational goals, security needs, performance demands, compliance requirements and user preferences. CDW can help assess these goals and provide the solution and expertise to optimize the environment.

To dig deeper into the various approaches to mobility management, contact a CDW solution architect or read our white papers: Managing Mobility for the Enterprise and The Power of Client Virtualization.