Enterprise collaboration firm Accellion has unveiled a secure productivity tool for mobile devices such as Apple's iPad, combining the capabilities of an office suite with a secure container for documents and cloud-based file storage.
Available from March, Accellion Mobile Productivity Suite provides a secure alternative to services that workers may already be using on an ad hoc basis, such as Dropbox and productivity tools like Quickoffice, combined into a single application.
Initially available only for Apple iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad, the suite enables users to view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files inside a secure, encrypted space which is linked to a cloud-based repository for collaboration with colleagues.
However, the most significant feature is that it will enable enterprise customers to keep control over sensitive information in company documents while enabling their staff to work on the move using tablets or smartphones.
Mobile Productivity Suite actually builds on existing Accellion technology used for sharing files on mobile devices, but takes it to the logical next step with integrated editing tools to close the security gap, Accellion's EMEA marketing director Jes Breslaw told V3.
"Until now, users might be working with an enterprise collaboration solution like Accellion, but they would have to open that document in another application," he explained.
"The instant you do that you've lost the encryption, you've lost the security and safeguards, and you also no longer know where the document is being stored, because it could be saved somewhere else."
Accellion Mobile Productivity Suite creates a secure encrypted container on the user's mobile device to hold company documents, and also uses a secure link to talk to the cloud repository, the latter serving as a kind of Sharepoint for mobile users.
When used in conjunction with a separate Accellion product called Kitepoint, users can also securely access their Sharepoint portal itself without the need for a VPN, the firm said.
The app itself does not support every feature seen in full-blown suites such as Microsoft Office, but does include key features for business users such as the ability to track changes, paragraph formatting and tables in Word documents, cell formatting options and functions in Excel spreadsheets, and the ability to edit PowerPoint slides.
However, Accellion does allow the IT department to specify a whitelist of trusted apps that users will be able to open documents with outside of Mobile Productivity Suite.
Administrators can also enforce a PIN to access the app, and specify an idle time-out after which the PIN will be required to unlock it again.
While Accellion Mobile Productivity Suite initially supports only the iPad and iPhone, this will be expanded in future to cover BlackBerry and Android devices, the firm said.
Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.