Enterprise app management tools evolve for mobile productivity

IT needs better application and data management tools to support the growing array of enterprise mobile productivity scenarios.

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As employees increase their reliance on mobile devices for work, administrators need tools to manage and secure corporate data. Exchange ActiveSync or Citrix XenApp simply aren't enough to support mobile productivity anymore.

At Chevron Federal Credit Union (CFCU), a financial institute based in Concord, Calif., approximately 70% of its mobile devices are corporate-owned iPhones or BlackBerrys. However, CFCU's mobile workforce has begun to move toward a bring-your-own-device scenario.

The organization needed more than just mobile device management (MDM) software to securely enable various devices and ownership scenarios, in part because few MDM tools are sufficient for protecting the highly regulated credit union, said Sachin Kundra, CFCU's CIO.

"I've got regulations up the wazoo," Kundra said. "Our IT department needs to have the ability to set rules and policies around the data and what applications can do with that data once it's on the device. It's about the data, no matter what device is being used."

That scenario is becoming the norm.

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Up to 60% of companies report that employees use personal mobile devices for work tasks beyond email. And slightly more than 70% of companies have changed at least one business process in the last year because of the shift towards mobile productivity, according to a January 2013 survey of 600 IT pros by Avanade Inc., an IT solutions provider based in Seattle.

"Last year, organizations recognized the potential for this shift by allowing a range of devices and ownership scenarios to enter the network," said Dan O'Hara, Avanade's vice president of mobility. "This year is about seeing the benefits of that shift."

As a result of the growing complex mobile environment, it's important for IT to have ways to securely manage apps and data without hindering the end-user experience, said Terry Cosgrove, a mobile analyst at Gartner Inc., a research firm based in Stamford, Conn.

Enterprise mobility options evolve

The enterprise mobility management (EMM) market has matured, with established vendors such as Good Technology, Boxtone, AirWatch, MobileIron, Maas360 and Zenprise (recently acquired by Citrix Systems Inc.), but there's room for innovation, and new options continue to pop up.

One such option comes from AppSense. Its new MobileNow platform, which recently came out of beta, is a Software as a Service enterprise mobile management suite based on technology AppSense acquired last May from RAPsphere.

MobileNow combines device and app management features, a secured email feature for both third-party and native email apps. It will eventually have better integration with DataNow, AppSense's enterprise file sync and storage product. There are also application analytics that allow IT to see which business applications employees use so admins can do a better job of offering the tools workers need for mobile productivity.

Those features appealed to CFCU. After testing several MDM options, the company chose AppSense's tool to manage its mobile workforce to securely manage its data.

AppSense's MobileNow is licensed at $5 per user per month for unlimited devices or $3.50 per device per month. There is an option to bundle DataNow and MobileNow together for $8 per user per month.

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