Serve and Protect: Three Mobile Management Offerings


With new startups competing alongside established providers, the enterprise smartphone management space is growing and changing at an extremely rapid pace. What follows are three recent product launches or enhancements that provide a glimpse of what’s happening out there – with many similar announcements from competitors on the horizon.


Integrator Enterprise Mobile recently introduced a hosted version of MobileIron’s Virtual Smartphone Platform for device management, giving enterprises a SaaS option for in-depth management of iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian devices, with alerting on usage trends, activity spikes, out of network activity and other statistics.


The key aim of MobileIron’s offering, according to company vice president of products and marketing Ojas Rege, is to address the unique challenges inherent in smartphone management. “It’s really about the data,” he said. “And data management, and the broader smartphone management that entails, is different and frankly much more sophisticated than the traditional device management approaches that existed before.”


That means providing an extremely detailed view into the devices themselves. “We see all the settings, we see all the apps, all the content – and we also have a very good view into all the activity and the service quality of the phone, so we know when people are dropping calls, we know when the VP of sales is having terrible coverage so IT better get on the ball… those kinds of things,” Rege said.


Beyond traditional device management functionality such as wiping a device, enforcing password policies, or pushing an application to the device, Rege said MobileIron adds advanced features like selectively wiping only certain files or file types from the phone, setting a boundary between personal and professional data, or determining who’s roaming and whether or not they have a roaming plan in place.


The platform also provides real time awareness of all mobile activity. “I can get a sense of my most active users in terms of minutes or SMS or data traffic, I can see who’s roaming right now, if those roamers are spending a lot of money… and I can look at a carrier comparison to understand who’s performing better or worse from a quality of service perspective,” Rege said.


A central aspect of the offering, Rege says, is that users also have access to all of their usage data, from overages to dropped calls, including any appropriate alerts. “Just like I have all that data and I expose it to IT, I also expose it to the end user… the notion is that if you move this data out to the edge, out to the user, 95 percent of the time the user’s going to be better equipped to take the right action,” he said.


On the same day that Enteprise Mobile announced its new hosted offering, Keynote Systems announced the launch of version 4.0 of its Keynote Mobile Device Perspective device monitoring and troubleshooting solution. Key to the new release is the addition of Mobile Device Perspective interactive (MDPi), which offers remote access to smartphones worldwide for troubleshooting and diagnosing issues.


The company maintains a global test and measurement network of over 3,000 computers and mobile devices connected to local carriers in more than 240 locations. “One of the things that makes Keynote unique is the fact that we can monitor performance of applications and services from more locations than anyone else,” said company mobile product manager Nisheeth Mohan.


Keynote Mobile Device Perspective then uses that network of devices to monitor application performance in real time. “We write a script that actually controls the device, and forces the device to perform [a given set of] steps over and over again – and when we do that, not only do we execute those same steps on that actual device, but we also take a screenshot of the LCD screen in real time,” Mohan said.


What MDPi adds to the offering is the ability to interact remotely with the devices as needed for testing and troubleshooting. “We constantly monitor applications and services on real devices with MDP, and when the application or the service starts failing, we notify customers through real-time alerts – and a lot of times, customers want to troubleshoot the application at the time they receive an alert,” Mohan said.


Customers can now do so, with devices located anywhere on the company’s test and measurement network. “Once you receive your alert… no matter where you are, you can connect to any MDPi device in any location and then interactively troubleshoot what might be happening with your application,” Mohan said. “Anything that you can do with the device in your own hands, you can do on that MDP interactive device.”


That includes everything from manipulation of a touchscreen device to rotating an device or loading an application – and while doing so, screenshots and video can be recorded, shared in a common repository, or emailed as needed. “It really enhances our ability to monitor and troubleshoot performance of mobile applications and content,” Mohan said.


With a more specific focus on mobile email security, Mobile Active Defense recently launched a new cloud-based offering targeting consumers, carriers, and the enterprise. The solution is designed to block spam, phishing attacks and malware before they’re delivered to the mobile device – it’s currently available for iPhone and Windows Mobile devices, with Symbian and Android planned for the near future.


Company chairman Winn Schwartau said the idea is keep all of the processing off the phone itself, in order to avoid slowing the device down. Instead, a small client app is deployed on the device, which connects to the Mobile Active Defense cloud over a secure channel. “The only thing that Mobile Active Defense does at the phone itself is offer configuration,” he said.


That ensures that the phone’s performance isn’t affected. “I want to be able to configure my environment the way that I want to do it, but why should I take all the overhead, the CPU, the RAM,” said Schwartau. “In the initial consumer release, all of the email filtering, all of the email rules… all of the stuff that we traditionally do at the laptop and desktop, is now done in the cloud.”


And the solution itself is updated 100 times a day in order to ensure that malware, phishing attacks and spam are kept in the cloud and away from the phone. “It effectively provides each phone with its own complete security shell, its own halo if you will, sitting up there in the cloud – and the user doesn’t have to do a damn thing after its initial configuration,” Schwartau said.

For carriers, who Schwartau says have already responded enthusiastically to the offering, that can mean an enormous decrease in data usage thanks to the elimination of spam delivered over the network. And for the company itself, it’s a point of pride that they’ve managed to bring email security to the iPhone. “We have solved the problems that they said were unsolvable,” Schwartau said.


mobile, smartphone, mobile device, mobile security, mobile management