Today, your organization likely relies on enterprise mobility as part of unified endpoint management (UEM) to help manage and secure all your enterprise endpoints like mobile phones, desktops, laptops and even wearables. So why not just extend your Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution to manage your Internet of Things (IoT) use cases? Aren’t connected things just different kinds of end points anyway?

The core functionality of UEM is directly applicable to many IoT device management scenarios, specifically for mobile printers, enterprise sleds, and wearables. However, you’d be surprised to know that connected things are basically new IT infrastructure at the edges of your business, and UEM does not meet the unique requirements for many IoT use cases.

At VMware, as we dived deeper into enterprise IoT over the last two years, we’ve seen the need for a separate, dedicated IoT management solution which is specifically tailored to these challenges and requirements.

Recently, we had the opportunity to share our thoughts with Jack Madden from who brought it all together very nicely in an article titled “EMM-managed IoT versus 3-tier IoT” .  (Note: I loved the terminology he used in the article, so I’ll use the same for this blog series).


What Are the Differences?

Diagram showing differences between EMM IoT and 3-tier IoT.


  • Devices Type and Volume – EMM usually manages devices where there is a user at the end to accept updates, follow instructions, etc. This includes devices like smartphones, laptops, rugged devices, and wearables. However, 99 percent of IoT devices are usually unmanned and in remote locations – for example – sensors in oil wells, jet engines, cranes, etc., which may have intermittent network access. Also, typical EMM use cases may reach tens of thousands of devices – or maybe hundreds of thousands of devices for some of the largest organizations. However, as enterprises add gateways and IoT use cases, the number of devices increases exponentially and can easily reach into the millions.
  • Architecture – In EMM, usually a device maps onto a user or many users map onto many devices. Either way, the connection is direct. However, for IoT architectures, it’s best practice to have a 3-tier architecture wherein things connect to a gateway/edge system which then in turn connects to the cloud/data center. This child/parent relationship (simple device > gateway) is something current EMM solutions typically cannot address.
  • Goal – EMM solutions, because they include an end-user, focus on providing management and security with an emphasis on user experience. With IoT, there is the added requirement of continuous, real-time monitoring to make sure devices are working correctly.


In the next post, we’ll delve into what questions to ask to qualify your IoT use cases and help choose a management solution accordingly.