Mobility Technologies and the Acronym Jungle: Making Sense of It All

Understanding the various types of mobility technologies available.

Mobility technologies have made great advances over the last few years, but the sum of those advances often looks like an impenetrable jungle of TLAs. That's “three-letter acronyms,” and it illustrates the problem a lot of people have when looking at the field of mobility technologies. How do you tell MMS from MDM from EMM and from any other TLA that steps into your POV (point of view)? Sometimes it would be helpful just to have a simple field guide to the various acronyms out there, and, with that, a better understanding of just what does what.

Understanding Mobility Technologies by the Acronym

Getting a handle on mobility technologies starts by making the acronyms meaningful and cutting through the jargon to see the value each offers.


MMS, or managed mobility services, is the collective term for a slate of mobility services offered by a central service provider.

Start-to-Finish Support. MMS offers a range of options that's intended to cover just about every phase of the mobile device's life cycle. It starts with the basic setup but then proceeds to provide regular monitoring to generate actionable insights about how well the devices are working. This also includes some capacity to determine what changes, if any, should be made in mobile service operations.

Help Desk Support is Vital. One of the key draws in MMS operations is help desk support. This function not only takes the weight of mobile support off the likely already-overloaded IT department but also helps keep the devices up, running, and using mobility services.

Patches Kept Up. MMS functions also ensure that patches are routinely applied. It's one of the biggest potential failure points as far as any device goes, mobile or otherwise, and MMS helps to address it. Keeping up with security patches helps ensure that widely known security vulnerabilities can't be exploited, which secures one potential path to trouble.

End-of-Life Support. MMS functions even go so far, in some cases, as to address end-of-life issues. Complete factory resets to purge devices of usable data and even recycling programs are on-hand as part of MMS in some fields.


Mobile device management (MDM) is similar to MMS, but is a bit more narrowly focused.

Focuses Mainly on Devices. MDM is generally a breed of software that's focused on the device. While the servers that supply MDM are controlled by administrators, the software not only stays on, but it addresses key functions of the device itself.

Offers Some Unique Functions. MDM will actually offer some features and benefits that MMS doesn't. For instance, MDM can offer identity and access management tools — points that MMS commonly doesn't. It can allow for establishing partitions on devices — great for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments that need a way to switch from business to personal rapidly — and other functions like secure file sharing.

Extremely Specific Control. Since MDM focuses on the individual device, it allows network administrators granular control over those devices and, by extension, their users. It allows for easy stratification of access, allowing certain users access to certain systems and certain information from there. It's an excellent way to control access to key data and provides a note of added security as well by reducing the pool of sources from which an insider attack can even take place.


Enterprise mobility management (EMM) tends to get even more focused than MDM.

Focused on Security. EMM is commonly device-focused as well, but it focuses even further, generally limiting itself to securing devices and the data contained therein. This focus can take on several forms, including specific processes that target data security, processes that need to integrate with wider IT options, and services that seek to protect specifically intellectual property.

Starting to Expand. While security is vital in any business application, EMM is starting to learn it can't live by protection alone. Now, EMM is adding a broader definition of mobile to its operations, covering not just mobile devices but also some operating systems including MacOS and even Windows 10.

Offerings are Often Limited. EMM can cover a broad range of operations, but EMM providers will tend to focus on a comparative handful of applications. That's the word from a Gartner study, which noted that EMM is starting to move to cover “unified endpoint management,” but that move is only in its early stages.


Mobile application management (MAM) is perhaps the most specialized field of all in the mobility technologies subsector.

Exclusively for Apps. The name makes it clear: MAM handles applications and mostly just applications. While there are several points within applications that are worth addressing, don't expect MAM to address functions of the device itself.

Useful for Security. Since MAM has an application focus, look for it to work well with other technologies to control potential attack vectors from hackers. With MAM, it's a lot easier to defend against malware in apps as MAM specifically controls application functions.

Useful for App-related Housekeeping. For those who have a lot of apps with licenses, and with payments accordingly, MAM can be a great way to protect against potential pitfalls. For those who dread true-up times, for example, MAM can be a help here as it can work with app licensing, helping to keep the right number of licenses in play at all times. It's also useful in BYOD settings, since it can be used to selectively isolate and remove apps where needed, along with any data that might be connected to that app.

What to Do When You Need More Help With Mobility Technologies

Understanding all of the various mobility technologies is difficult even for specialists. Turning to a managed mobility services provider can be a great way to get a better handle on what's available and what will work best for your business. Start by getting in touch with us at Acuity. We not only have a slate of managed mobility services, but we can also offer telecom managed services as well as voice and data services to keep your devices working to their fullest whether mobile or otherwise. Just reach out to us when you need a guide through the mobility technologies jungle.

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