Google has added more mobile device management features to its Google Apps suite, promising to enhance security and manageability for administrators.
Key additions include the ability to activate data encryption, ensure that old passwords are not reused, and allow data to be automatically wiped from a device after a specified number of failed password attempts.
New options let administrators disable a phone's camera, and require passwords to be changed after a specified time. Data synchronisation can now be disabled to reduce wireless charges when roaming.
The new features will support iPhone, Nokia and Windows Mobile devices, and will help administrators keep corporate data more secure, according to Google.
"These policies will be available to all Google Apps Premier and Education customers. They can be accessed from the 'Mobile' tab under 'Service Settings' in the Google Apps control panel," the firm said in a blog post.
"It's our mission to provide users with seamless access to their data while allowing enterprise administrators to centrally manage a diverse range of mobile devices."
The security features add to enterprise options rolled out earlier this year giving administrators the options to remotely wipe all data from lost or stolen devices and lock idle devices after a period of inactivity.
The options are accessible without the need to deploy additional software or manage dedicated enterprise mobile servers, Google added.
The company will also enhance device management options and expand the list of supported devices, including Android, later this year.
Google still has some way to go to rival BlackBerry, which is very much the standard in mobile management and security when it comes to encryption, policy enforcement, monitoring and compliance, according to Nick McQuire, EMEA research director for enterprise mobility at IDC.
"Google Apps is growing in popularity, especially in small businesses which are highly mobile," he said.
"Building more mobility management control and security capabilities into its platform to give it more credibility with businesses was inevitable. I would expect improvements possibly in the areas of policy support, data backup and monitoring in time."
McQuire explained that the web application consumption model is in its infancy in the enterprise market, but that Google is at the front of an accelerating adoption curve.
The benefits of ease of use, pricing and scalability are powerful, he said, and Google is right to bring the mobility piece into its strategy.
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