Mobile management firm MobileIron is extending its support for Android devices, adding an enterprise app store, anti-malware capabilities and the ability for administrators to exercise control over which applications users can install.
Coming later this month, the updates to MobileIron's Virtual Smartphone Platform are designed to help businesses address the growing trend of employee-owned devices being used for work, and also reflect growing enterprise interest in Android.
"Android is now starting to pick up speed in the enterprise, and we're seeing the same growth we saw for Apple's iOS during 2010," said MobileIron chief executive Bob Tinker.
To address this growth, the company is adding features to help workers find the applications they need to do their job, while keeping rogue apps and malware off devices, according to Tinker.
The Enterprise App Storefront enables the IT department to flag up approved applications, for example. This capability was introduced for iOS devices earlier this year, but is now being supported on Android.
A key feature is that it provides a way to distribute internal turnkey applications as well as linking to external public apps stores.
"Many firms don't want to post their internally developed applications to third-party app stores, so they need their own store," Tinker said.
However, staff using their own smartphones for work opens up a potential threat to corporate data from rogue applications, especially in light of malware-infected consumer apps appearing on Android Market.
"The lost device problem has already been solved through remote lock and wipe. The issue now is compromised devices that might be carrying malware or an application that is doing something it shouldn't," Tinker said.
MobileIron's App Control addresses this by detecting application installations and taking action according to policies set by the company.
If an unauthorised application is detected, it can trigger a warning message, cut off access to corporate resources from that handset, or even wipe any enterprise data from the device.
"It's the flip side of the consumerisation of IT, which we call the IT-isation of the consumer. It's about letting workers know that, with greater device freedom, they have to behave in a more responsible way," Tinker said.
A further feature, App Data Access, provides the ability to control which data on Android devices can be accessed by third-party applications, according to MobileIron.
"Android is fairly transparent in letting you see exactly what data applications are accessing, such as the contacts list, and we use that to define a policy saying whether it can be allowed or not," explained Tinker.
The update to MobileIron's Virtual Smartphone Platform is due by the end of June. Licensing starts at an annual £35 per device for the first 100 devices, including maintenance and support, while perpetual licences start at £60 per device.
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