While most of the managed services market tries to figure out mobile device management (MDM), I'm paying more and more attention to mobile application management (MAM). Manage your customers' applications -- especially mobile apps -- and you'll have a customer for life, I believe. Here's why.

I've already stated my belief that stand-alone mobile device management platforms are are doomed. MSPs don't want yet another management dashboard. Instead, they want MDM plugged directly into their RMM (remote monitoring and management) dashboards. But that's not all: MSP software providers will need to increasingly focus on mobile applications management. There may even be an opportunity for MSPs to build and manage customers' private app stores -- especially in the mid-market.

So what's the difference between MDM and MAM?

Mobile Device Management: Gartner's Definition

On the one hand, Gartner describes MDM as:
  1. Software Distribution — The ability to manage and support mobile application including deploy, install, update, delete or block.
  2. Policy Management — Development, control and operations of enterprise mobile policy.
  3. Inventory Management — Beyond basic inventory management, this includes provisioning and support.
  4. Security Management — The enforcement of standard device security, authentication and encryption.
  5. Service Management — Rating of telecom services.

Mobile Application Management: Wikipedia's Spin

On the other hand, WikiPedia says MAM addresses:
  • App delivery
  • App security
  • App updating
  • User authentication
  • User authorization
  • Version checking
  • Push services
  • Reporting and tracking

Know Your (Potential) Options

Clearly, those two definitions and capability lists contain some overlapping thoughts and capabilities.

MSPs that are curious about the MAM and MDM markets should keep close tabs on such vendors as:
  • AirWatch, an MDM and MAM specialist that helped Lowes deploy and manage 42,000 iPhones
  • App47, which offers a platform that allows enterprises to deploy their own App stores (hot opportunity alert)
  • AppBlade, which supports application deployments and management across iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and Android platforms.
  • AppCentral, which also helps enterprises to develop app stores
  • Apperian, which promotes an EASE platform; it helps developers to write and distribute secure enterprise apps. Side note: Apperian outlines the differences between MDM and MAM here.
  • Better MDM, which appears to be beta testing MDM, MAM, and mobile security solutions as of May 2012.
  • Kony, which has a platform that allows partners to build enterprise app stores for customers.
  • MobileIron, focused heavily on MDM
  • Nukona, another provider of enterprise app store technology
  • Partnerpedia, the former builder of channel partner communities; now focused on private labeled app stores.
  • WorkLight, now owned by IBM; focused on mobile development tools, middleware, and management
  • Terria Mobile, which offers a platform for app management.

MAM, MDM, Mergers, Acquisitions

I'm not endorsing the vendors above. But I am suggesting that MSPs need to get their arms around the MAM and MDM markets. Consolidation is coming. I bet one-third to half of the companies on the list above get acquired in the next 18 to 24 months.

On the flip side, RMM software providers will need to decide how to handle mobile application management. Really soon. Managing devices is an important first step for MSPs. But manage customer applications and you'll have that customer for life, because applications -- and the need to reliably access them -- ultimately drive all IT sales.