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AppSense combines mobile app and device management with MobileNow

The cloud-based product can control Android and iOS-based devices, and Windows Phone will soon be added

AppSense has released MobileNow, a cloud-based service that combines device and application administration features, as it hopes to take a bite out of the growing mobile management market.

As the BYOD (bring-your-own-device) trend grows, IT departments are seeking to maintain control while letting employees use their own smartphones or tablets for work. MobileNow joins a host of management tools that are being developed to help address that challenge.

The cloud-based MobileNow combines mobile device management and mobile application management with native encrypted email using a number of different clients, allowing IT to manage mobile devices using single platform with no required infrastructure.

"The challenge around BYOD isn't just the devices, but also the applications on those devices and the data stored on them," said Michael Mills, director of product management for data products at AppSense.

MobileNow works with Android and iOS-based tablets and smartphones, and AppSense is working on adding Windows Phone 8.

A key capability of MobileNow is its ability to wrap an application without having to make any changes to the code, according to Mills. Once an application has been wrapped it can be separated using encryption and policies from a user's personal applications, he said.

For example, an administrator can put in place a policy that prevents users from copying data between a wrapped app and a personal one or add an extra layer of security by forcing users to enter a password when accessing sensitive applications. Apps that have been approved for enterprise use gain a small badge on the icon.

The company has also ensured that wrapped applications are still compatible with Apple's development and distribution policies.

"A lot of vendors have made the mistake of not paying close enough attention to that," said Mills.

Policies can be applied to an application, groups of applications or groups of users.

On the device side, MobileNow lets IT staff control access to the camera, access to features such as iCloud and the ability to take screen captures. Also, being cloud-based allows AppSense to add new policies quicker, according to Mills.

The product isn't just focused on the IT department. There are also features that allow end-users to provision applications, and wipe enterprise data or lock enterprise applications on their smartphone or tablet. But for that to work the IT department has to allow it, Mills said.

MobileNow costs either US$3.50 per device monthly or $5 per user per month. Enterprises can also sign up for a trial on the company's new mobile site, and launch their own instance.

AppSense competitors include Mobile Iron, Airwatch and OpenPeak, according to Leif-Olof Wallin, research vice president at Gartner.

AppSense already offers management tools for desktops, and the company's long-term the goal is to marry that with the management of smartphones and tablets, allowing the IT department to decide on just one set of policies for applications and data across all devices.

"Complete integration is still a couple of years away, but that is the vision," said David Roussain, vice president for product marketing and strategic alliances at AppSense.

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