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Mocana joins iOS app management party

2011 was all about mobile device management (MDM), helping IT feel comfortable about all those iPhones, iPads, and the pending wave of Android devices on which their BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) tool couldn't enforce password, encryption, and other such policies. That's old hat now -- pratically a checklist technology to support mobile device heterogeneity. 2012 instead is shaping up to be about mobile application management (MAM), with a variety of vendors offering tools to control the apps themselves.

As most of the adoption has been of iOS devices, most of the vendor focus has been on iOS. The latest vendor to join the iOS MAM party is Mocana, which has released the iOS version of its Mobile App Protection (MAP) product that had previously been available only for Android apps. MAP is conceptually the same as technology offered by Nukona (which Symantec recently purchased) in that it adds a digital wrapper to existing apps. That wrapper can have policies applied to control the interapplication communication between the app and the rest of the mobile OS environment, including other apps. It's essentially a data loss prevention (DLP) wrapper for mobile apps. For example, MAP can be used to prevent file sharing, require a separate VPN tunnel, or limit an app's use to certain locations (based on GPS coordinates).

[ The InfoWorld special report: "Making sense of mobile device, application, and information management." | Apple's new iPad is complicating life for HTML5 developers. | Subscribe to InfoWorld's Mobilize newsletter for more perspectives on mobile computing. ]

Like Nukona's technology, Mocana's has the same limits imposed on it by Apple, which is that it cannot modify third-party apps available in the App Store. Thus, it can be used to wrap only homegrown apps and apps purchased through Apple's Business App Store for volume distribution to employees.

The DLP wrapper approach is one of several MAM approaches vendors are offering IT. The others:

Built-in content management hooks: AppCentral, Good Technology, and MobileIron all have SDKs that let IT add information management hooks within homegrown applications to control data access and sharing. Good and MobileIron have worked with a variety of commercial app developers to embed the controls in Business App Store versions of their apps, such as Quickoffice, giving IT semi-custom control of application management.

Secure app development environments: AppCentral, Good, MobileIron, SAP Sybase, Veracode, and Verivo all offer SDKs or -- in the case of AppCentral, Veracode, and Verivo -- full-fledged mobile programming environments with libraries for management and security functions for IT developers to use in homegrown apps.

Corporate distribution: AppCentral, Apperian, App47, and Partnerpedia all offer corporate app store services to provision and manage access to corporate apps. Apple's OS X Lion Server has a similar capability, as does the systems management server from Odyssey Software that Symantec recently acquired. MDM vendors Good, MobileIron, SAP Sybase, and Zenprise offer app distribution capabilities as well.

Secured app containers: Antenna Software, Cellrox, Enterproid, Fixmo, NitroDesk, and Citrix subsidiary Open Kernel Labs all offer technology that creates a separate workspace for corporate-managed and -provisioned apps. Although the apps themselves are unmanaged, IT can control the workspace, separating its apps from the personal apps and underlying OS functions such as the mail client.


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