Sybase has announced a new release of its Afaria mobile management and security suite, offering improved enterprise control of Apple's iPhone and bringing the popular device more in line with Afaria's support for other platforms.
Available from mid-November, Afaria 6.5 adds a number of new features, including the ability for administrators to remotely configure and enforce policy on iPhone devices used in the enterprise.
Other new features provide support for encryption on Nokia handsets, and the ability to specify which applications are allowed to run on Windows Mobile devices.
On the iPhone side, many of the new capabilities were made possible by the recent iPhone OS 3.1 update from Apple, according to Mark Jordan, Afaria senior product manager at Sybase iAnywhere.
"We have been working on iPhone support for some time, but with 3.1 Apple opened up new capabilities such as the ability to lock down settings on the device, so we support that through the Afaria console," he said.
Afaria 6.5 can also apply password policy and configure the device remotely, and set restrictions on applications, such as blocking iTunes.
This brings the iPhone closer to the level of control that is already possible with other platforms supported by Afaria, such as Windows Mobile and Symbian, and could make the iPhone more attractive as an enterprise device.
However, the Afaria client must still be downloaded from the Apple App Store by the user, rather than being provisioned centrally as other platforms can.
Sybase said that it hopes Apple will open up the device to further remote management in the future.
"There are a lot of things we would like to add, such as encryption and mobile provisioning, but this is a great step forward for the iPhone," said Jordan.
"You can lock it down and apply policies without the need for an Exchange server. We hope this shows commitment from Apple for the iPhone in the enterprise."
In a related announcement, Sybase's SQL Anywhere now supports the iPhone, providing a client-side database and synchronisation technology for mobile applications across multiple mobile platforms.
Afaria 6.5 also adds encryption support on Nokia handsets for file, folder and personal information management data, a feature that the Windows Mobile version of the client has offered for several years.
"It enables the enterprise to feel secure about putting enterprise data on these devices," said Jordan.
Meanwhile, Afaria administrators can now control what applications are allowed to run on Window Mobile handsets, with a whitelist applied to apps installed in RAM and a blacklist for pre-installed executables in ROM.
"You can say: 'I only want users to be able to install and run our field service app', and you can turn off unwanted built-in software," Jordan said.
The other major enhancement in Afaria 6.5 is multi-tenancy support, which allows service providers, carriers or enterprises to support multiple tenants or company divisions from a single server farm, with complete data separation between them.
Sybase subsidiary Sybase 365 also announced the availability of a mobile banking iPhone application through the Sybase mBanking 365 platform.
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