MDM and MAM: What is the Main Difference?



In the dynamic landscape of enterprise mobility, organizations face the critical task of implementing effective strategies to manage and secure mobile devices and applications. Two key frameworks that play pivotal roles in this endeavor are Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM). While both are essential components of mobile security, they differ significantly in their focus and approach. This article aims to unravel the distinctions between MDM and MAM, providing clarity on their respective roles and applications in the realm of enterprise mobility.


What Is MDM?

Mobile Device Management (MDM) is a crucial component in the realm of enterprise mobility, offering organizations a robust solution to manage and secure mobile devices. In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, where smartphones and tablets play an integral role in business operations, MDM serves as a centralized system for overseeing and controlling these devices.

At its core, MDM provides administrators with the tools and capabilities necessary to monitor, configure, and safeguard mobile devices across an enterprise. This includes devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other endpoints that employees use to access corporate resources. The primary objectives of MDM are to ensure the security of corporate data, streamline device configuration and updates, and enforce compliance with organizational policies.

Advantages of MDM Disadvantages of MDM
1. Centralized Control: MDM provides centralized control over device configurations, ensuring uniformity and adherence to organizational policies. 1. Device Ownership Concerns: MDM may face resistance from employees who are concerned about their employers having extensive control over personal devices used for work.
2. Enhanced Security: MDM enhances the security of mobile devices by enforcing policies such as passcodes, encryption, and remote wipe capabilities in case of loss or theft. 2. Privacy Issues: The level of control MDM exerts over devices can raise privacy concerns, especially when it comes to employee's personal data. Striking a balance between security and privacy is crucial.
3. Efficient Updates: MDM allows for seamless over-the-air updates, ensuring that all devices are running the latest and most secure software versions. 3. Compatibility Challenges: Some MDM solutions may face challenges in managing devices running different operating systems, especially in heterogeneous environments.
4. Application Management: MDM enables administrators to manage the installation, updates, and removal of applications on mobile devices, ensuring only approved and secure apps are used. 4. Resource Intensive: Implementing and maintaining an MDM solution can be resource-intensive, requiring both time and financial investments.
5. Real-time Monitoring: MDM provides real-time monitoring and reporting capabilities, allowing administrators to track device usage and identify potential security risks. 5. Initial Setup Complexity: The initial setup of an MDM system may be complex, requiring careful planning and configuration to align with organizational needs.


What Is MAM?

Mobile device management (MDM) focuses on the devices themselves. Common functions include:   

  • Enforcing device policies
  • Pushing applications to devices
  • Securing corporate emails and other documents
  • Segregating corporate data
  • Managing smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices
  • Wiping or locking lost or stolen devices

The main benefit of MDM software is its power. It can provide high-level control over the entire device and therefore exceptional security. However, some users may push back due to privacy concerns, particularly if you want to install an MDM solution on a BYOD device.  

Advantages of MAM Disadvantages of MAM
Granular control over applications: MAM provides detailed management of individual applications, allowing for specific security configurations. Limited device-level control: MAM primarily focuses on applications and may lack control over certain device-level functionalities.
User privacy: MAM enables the management of corporate applications without accessing or interacting with personal data on the device, addressing privacy concerns. Challenges in full device oversight: Organizations requiring comprehensive control over devices may find MAM less suitable compared to broader device-centric solutions like MDM.
Flexibility in BYOD environments: Well-suited for Bring-Your-Own-Device scenarios, MAM strikes a balance between corporate security and user freedom on personal devices. Complexity in hybrid environments: Managing a combination of MAM and other solutions in hybrid environments may introduce complexities in administration and user experience.
Application lifecycle management: MAM facilitates end-to-end management of the application lifecycle, ensuring that business-critical apps are up-to-date and secure. Application compatibility: Some MAM solutions may face challenges in managing applications across different operating systems or ensuring compatibility with various app stores.
Lighter resource footprint: MAM solutions are often more lightweight, making them easier to implement and requiring fewer system resources. Security concerns in application-centric breaches: While focusing on securing individual applications, a breach within a specific app could pose security risks, necessitating additional measures.


The Differences Between MDM and MAM

As evident from the definitions, the fundamental distinction between Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM) lies in the scope of control: MDM focuses on the overall management of devices, including tablets and smartphones, while MAM hones in on the control of specific corporate applications and their associated data.

In essence, MAM can be viewed as a subset or specialized field within the broader spectrum of MDM. Going beyond this basic difference, several nuanced characteristics and distinct features further differentiate MDM from MAM:

Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM) serve distinct purposes in the realm of enterprise mobility. MDM empowers administrators with comprehensive control over devices, enabling them to monitor, manage, and control various aspects of the device itself. In contrast, MAM is tailored for app-centric control, allowing administrators to modify specific features within applications without delving into device-level management.

The beauty of MAM lies in its ability to circumvent the need for overseeing the entire device, honing in solely on elements crucial to business operations. Notably, unlike MDM, MAM ensures that IT administrators remain oblivious to personal data and applications, maintaining a focus solely on the business-relevant facets of the mobile environment.

MDM software offers a broad spectrum of authority, permitting administrators to implement sweeping changes across users' devices. Conversely, MAM's influence is confined to the realm of applications directly pertinent to the business's operational landscape. This limitation positions MAM as a more tailored solution, emphasizing precision over the comprehensive control wielded by MDM.

The finer granularity of control inherent in MAM proves especially advantageous in the context of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) scenarios. In such environments, MAM shines by facilitating nuanced modifications without encroaching on personal data or applications. This nuanced control not only aligns with the preferences of users in BYOD settings but also contributes to a more seamless integration of business applications into personal devices.

In essence, the choice between MDM and MAM hinges on the organization's priorities. MDM offers a holistic approach to device management, while MAM provides a more refined, app-centric control, particularly well-suited for BYOD environments where preserving the privacy of personal data is paramount.


The Similarities Between MDM and MAM

Despite these basic differences there are also some similarities between MDM and MAM.

For example:

  • Both MAM and MDM are usually included in EMM or UEM product suites. They are often sold together as part of a comprehensive strategy to control mobile management and security.
  • Both MAM and MDM provide app wrapping and containerization features that IT administrators can use to control and update apps on managed devices.
  • Both MAM and MDM contain user and group authentication and authorization. Equally, access management and access for third-party product integrations are common capabilities across both MAM and MDM.
  • Both can be used to effectively manage, monitor and improve the way employees interact with the digital sphere of your business.


MDM Vs. MAM: A Head-to-Head Comparison

Common use case Corporate or personal device Personal device
Level of possible control Entire device Apps
Device compliance Allows security policy enforcement Only enforceable through managed app settings
Security options Full device security Work app security, corporate data security


What Other Forms of Mobile Device Management Exist?

Multiple approaches all fall under the EMM banner, making matters more confusing. In addition to MDM and MAM, other strategies also exist.  

Mobile content management (MCM): This content-focused strategy allows businesses to share business data, set access controls, and more.  

Mobile information management (MIM): Regardless of the managed device, MIM focuses on encrypting data and only granting access to approved apps.  

Mobile security management (MSM): MSM focuses on mobile app, device, and data security. This can include blocking access to certain websites, configuring authentication policies, managing permissions, and more.

Mobile expense management (MEM): MEM allows you to track data usage and mobile expenses.  

Unified endpoint management (UEM):This approach encompasses all endpoints, including desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, wearables, and IoT devices.


How Do You Decide Which Type of Management Is Best for Your Business?

Deciding between Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM) for your business involves a careful consideration of various factors. The choice depends on the specific needs, goals, and characteristics of your organization. Here are key considerations to help you determine which type of management is best for your business:

Business Objectives:

Consider your business goals and objectives. If the primary concern is securing and managing the entire mobile device ecosystem, including settings and configurations, MDM may be more suitable. If the focus is on securing and controlling specific applications and their data, MAM might align better with your objectives.

Device Ownership Model:

Evaluate the ownership model of the devices in your organization. If your business provides company-owned devices to employees, MDM may offer the necessary control over the entire device. In contrast, if your organization embraces a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) approach, where employees use personal devices, MAM's application-centric control may be more appropriate.

Privacy Considerations:

Assess the privacy concerns of your employees. MDM, with its device-level control, may raise privacy issues on personal devices. If maintaining a clear separation between personal and work-related data is crucial, especially in BYOD scenarios, MAM's application-focused approach helps address these privacy concerns.

Application-Centric Needs:

Analyze the importance of specific applications to your business operations. If the critical focus is on securing and managing individual applications, especially in scenarios where employees use a variety of personal devices, MAM's granular control over applications may be more beneficial.

User Experience:

Consider the impact on the user experience. MDM, with its comprehensive control over devices, may have a more noticeable impact on the user's personal device usage. MAM, being application-centric, often provides a more seamless and non-intrusive experience for users.

Compliance Requirements:

Assess industry regulations and compliance requirements. Depending on your industry, there may be specific regulations governing the security and privacy of corporate data. Choose the management solution that aligns with these compliance standards.

Resource Constraints:

Consider resource constraints, including budget and IT infrastructure. MAM solutions, focusing on applications, may be more lightweight and easier to implement, making them suitable for organizations with limited resources.

Hybrid Approach:

Evaluate the possibility of implementing a hybrid approach. Some organizations find value in combining both MDM and MAM strategies to create a comprehensive mobile security framework. This allows for a balanced approach, addressing both device-level and application-specific management needs.


Consider the scalability of the chosen solution. Evaluate whether the management solution can scale to meet the evolving needs of your business as it grows and as the mobile landscape continues to evolve.



The differences between mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) are critical to developing a comprehensive mobile security strategy. Whether an organisation prioritises control of the entire device or seeks a more nuanced approach focused on specific applications, it is critical to understand the unique characteristics and capabilities of MDM and MAM. By making informed choices that align with organisational goals and mobile deployment models, businesses can confidently and efficiently navigate the ever-changing enterprise mobility landscape. Your organisation that is considering mobile security and management, unsure of the costs? Then contact CPDEVICE to help you!

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