Mobile acronyms: How do they relate to each other?

By Etienne Noiret

In the IT industry, people who begin to gain knowledge in a specific domain often use technical acronyms that can be difficult for non-specialists to understand. There are a variety of mobile acronyms, such as MMS, EMM, MDM, MAM, MEAP, MADP and MBaaS, that relate to each other in many important ways.

Enterprise mobility management (EMM)

Enterprise mobility management (EMM) suites enable companies to manage and secure their mobile workers, thereby giving them the tools they need to be more productive. EMM is made up of other mobile acronyms (very meta), such as mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM), mobile expense management (MEM), mobile content management (MCM) and mobile identity management (MIM). Many EMM vendors were initially known as MDM vendors. They expanded their portfolios of solutions over time by adding new capabilities, such as secure mail, browsers and document sharing.

Mobile management solutions (MMS)

Mobile management solutions (MMS) is a group of services that maximize the potential of mobile devices while reducing security risk and easing the burden on IT departments. MMS allows for the secure, remote access of enterprise data through the cloud. Managed mobility services solutions also provide a method for increasing worker productivity while keeping costs down.

Mobile device management (MDM)

Mobile device management (MDM) commonly refers to a company’s ability to manage and secure its fleet of mobile devices. This management process includes enrolling mobile devices, diagnosing issues, locating devices, integrating devices with enterprise systems (such as emails and directory servers), centrally managing configurations (such as emails, VPN and certificates) and locking or wiping stolen or lost devices. In addition, MDM involves creating, distributing and enforcing enterprise policies to ensure that each device is compliant.

Mobile application management (MAM)

On the other end of the spectrum, mobile application management (MAM) is about controlling the lifecycle of the apps that are installed on a particular device. MAM is a domain that is referred to in EMM, but also in MADP/MEAP and MBaaS. As such, MAM provides different capabilities, depending on the solution through which it is implemented. The common capabilities include distributing apps through a private store, controlling which version of an app is allowed to run on a specific mobile operating system and pushing app updates on devices.

Download Gartner report on managed mobility services

In the context of EMM, it also includes white and blacklists of apps, in-app VPN (a virtual private network that is specific to the communications between the app and the enterprise) and an enterprise container. By wrapping an app, a company can enforce application security checks, like entering a PIN before launching an app, and restrict some operations, such as data sharing (copy/paste, data backup and exchanges with apps outside of the container).

Mobile expense management (MEM)

Mobile expense management (MEM) — a subset of Telecom Expense Management (TEM) — is a system that helps companies monitor and control the real-time usage and cost of data and voice for individual users, departments or the group as a whole in order to optimize their mobile spend.

Mobile content management (MCM)

Mobile content management (MCM) is the ability to provide access to corporate data from a mobile device. This process may include sharing files through various content providers. An MCM solution can provide an enterprise document catalog and manage the lifecycle and security of each document.

Mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP)

This platform has two mobile acronyms, as a mobile enterprise application (MEAP) is also referred to as a mobile application development platform, or MADP, by Gartner. The integrated suite helps developers build cross-platform mobile apps and execute them using a mobile middleware. During development, a MEAP can provide an integrated development environment (IDE) or a command line interface (CLI) to design, code, build and test mobile apps. Then, during execution, a MEAP implements an access-point server that provides a variety of optimized services for mobile devices. This server can manage the lifecycle of the apps (MAM), work offline and synchronize data, provide analytics data to understand the usage and the performance of the apps, and secure the access to the back office (by authenticating apps, devices and users).

A MEAP server also provides mobile services, such as a push notification engine, and location services. The integration between the mobile app and the server is done through a software development kit (SDK), which gives APIs to the developer to consume each of the provided capabilities.

Mobile backend as a service (MBaaS)

To simplify, mobile backend as as service (MBaaS) is like the runtime part of a MEAP, but it’s provided as a service and in the cloud. There is no IDE or CLI to help code and build the mobile apps, but there’s a SDK to consume the required services, such as a push notification service.

Written By

Etienne Noiret

Architect, IBM Security Software

Etienne has been working as a developer, architect and technical seller for various software editors during the last two decades. His point of focus include middleware, cloud computing, IoT, mobility and security.