What is application management?

Application management is a vital part of effective device and security management in business. But how can it enhance productivity, security, and user satisfaction? And how does an Apple admin keep all of these cards in the air?

March 12 2024 by

Haddayr Copley-Woods

A magician keeps all his cards in the air: illustration of application management with Jamf.

Understanding application management

App management is a part of but distinct from device management. Device management is the process Apple admins use to enroll, provision, track and configure devices for organizations and their employees. Apps management focuses on the management of the applications themselves.

Just as with device lifecycle management, apps management follows an app lifecycle of sorts, on a micro-level:

Applications must be:

  • Researched and sourced
  • Hosted
  • Deployed
  • Patched and updated
  • Removed when compromised or no longer of use

There are several key components of proper application management:

  • App and OS deployment and installation
  • Maintenance and updates
  • Monitoring and performance optimization
  • Security and compliance enforcement

Why is application management important?

App management software, workflows and tactics can make or break an organization's security risk. According to ComputerWeekly.com, third-party breaches caused about 29% of all breaches in 2023. Some of the largest data breaches in history were blamed on third-party apps with lax security setups including Facebook / Cambridge Analytica, Home Depot, Equifax and many more.

In short: you need to stay on top of apps.

And the best way to do this is through automation: brought to you by application management software such as Jamf App Installers.

Why shouldn't enterprise apps be managed manually?

The enterprise consists of many different job responsibilities and departments, all needing their own specialized apps for productivity, communication, and building products. It isn't just Microsoft Office anymore. Now, it's Slack, Photoshop, Salesforce, Code Editor . . . the list goes into the hundreds if your organization is large enough.

Depending on checklists and contact from vendors to let you know when a product needs patching or updating can lead to:

  • Costly human error
  • Longer wait times for critical patches
  • Losing track of who has what app
  • Lax security measures

How does application management software work?

An application management app is a web-based tool that manages app inventory on Apple devices. It should integrate directly with a reputable Mobile Device Management (MDM) provider as well as with user accounts like Managed Apple IDs and with other Apple services.

First: Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager

Step one in using application management software is to start with either Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager, so that you can enroll devices into management directly from purchase. They are both simple web-based tools that manage Apple device inventory and that integrate with other Apple services, such as Managed Apple IDs.

Step two is to link your MDM with Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager with your managed Apple ID. Both of these can help you to manage app licensing as well as app deployment.

These services allow IT teams to automate and simplify app deployments for businesses and schools, and an app management provider such as Jamf takes it a step further by automating deployment, patching and more. See below for more details.

Mac app management

Users can find apps for Macs at the Mac App Store or as third-party software titles. Third-party software not in the Mac App Store can be a problem if they aren't fully vetted and tracked, and there isn't a simple way for users to download apps safely and for organizations to be sure that these apps will be continually updated and secured.

The Jamf App Catalog

The Jamf App Catalog contains a list of third-party macOS software titles that Jamf has already vetted for Jamf admins. This catalog can integrate with a patch management workflow or an App Installers workflow, which keeps the source of all apps in the same place and far more manageable.

App Installers

App Installers takes it even further with a curated collection of Jamf-managed and Jamf-provided installer packages that automate and streamline updating and deploying third-party apps. So apps are not only more secure when you deploy them, but they also remain secure and up-to-date without interrupting end users from doing their jobs.

Self Service

Self Service is a private online enterprise app catalog for authorized users to download in-house, third-party or App Store apps. This empowers users to find the tools they need and to quickly begin using them while also giving organizations the control they need over enterprise apps.

iOS/iPadOS app management

As work environments shift and adapt, mobile apps for work are gaining popularity. Many of these apps are indispensable in conducting day-to-day business, and to leave iOS/iPadOS out of app management would be a mistake.

iOS app management tools are similar to those for Mac app management: delivering iOS/iPadOS apps via Self Service and the Jamf Catalog.

An additional benefit to app management is that it best supports BYOD policies.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) practices allow employees to use the tools they already know and keep nearby to get work done while also protecting their own data and app use.

When BYOD devices are enrolled in work programs, iPhone devices keep work and personal uses and data in separate volumes. This allows staff to carry only one phone and to have all the tools they need at their fingertips. And it also prevents personal apps from being viewed, accessed or deleted.

What are the benefits of mobile application management tools?

Vetted, up-to-date software is the most secure software. That's why application management and security go hand-in-hand. A good app management tool gives Apple admins control over the apps that employees can access and use as well as oversight on app installations and updates.

App management tools remove the need to monitor, package, and update software manually, and helps to ensure that all devices are meeting compliance requirements for safety and privacy.

When end-users don't have to wait (or worse, risk organizational data security) for the productivity apps they need to get the job done, they remain more productive and save IT time— automation and Self Service capabilities can remove the need for IT tickets for routine tasks.

Things to consider when choosing mobile app management

Some organizations begin with a simple and generalized way to manage apps: Mobile App Management (MAM). It's a good idea to think this through, especially if you're an Apple-dominated organization.

MAM without an MDM:

  • Cannot configure WiFi and email or automatically install apps
  • Relies on users downloading their own apps, which can cause enormous security vulnerabilities
  • Can frustrate users with slow VPN connections or an awkward user experience
  • Can have limited app availability

The more specialized and robust solution would be to use an application management application in conjunction with an MDM such as Jamf Pro. This combination offers your organization and its employees with vetted and secure apps, packed up for deployment, that automatically update, patch and manage apps.

Getting by with an MAM is exactly that: getting by.

Using a fully integrated system for managing permissions, apps, compliance and security is a streamlined experience that allows Apple admins to focus on IT planning and support rather than spending their team's time exclusively on repetitive tasks.

That makes for happier IT and InfoSec departments, end-users and those in the company with their eye on the bottom linel

See how Jamf can help you manage, update and deploy apps— like the pro you are.