Feb 11 2014

Mobile Security Is Evolving into Application Management

Companies find that once they bring devices under control, applications are the next logical step.

The deeper the IT staff at GA Communication Group gets into mobility, the more it focuses on managing applications as opposed to devices.

Jason Dittmer, director of technology for the healthcare advertising and marketing firm, says with roughly 100 employees dispersed in its San Diego and Chicago offices, the company relies on the cloud-based platform from AirWatch to manage and secure devices as well as put documents, applications and videos into employees’ hands when they need them.

Dittmer says once device management was under control with AirWatch MDM, the company began using the App Catalog Web Clip feature to load apps and allow users to add internally developed apps to their devices. It also uses the AirWatch Secure Content Locker to lock down documents and make them available to the staff when they need to make presentations.

“When our people are making presentations to clients, they can bring up bios on the management team right on their smartphones or tablets, as well as examples of our work,” Dittmer explains. “Our people also communicate a lot via Google Hangout, so having the documents readily available when they are doing video conferences is also a big help.”

AirWatch also lets GA Communication Group develop an app store for use by employees and clients that is available once the user enrolls with AirWatch, says Dittmer. “People can download internal apps within minutes, the way they would on the Apple App Store,” adds Kurt Miller, the company’s senior IT manager. “It’s an amazing timesaver and efficiency tool because I would be overwhelmed if I had to load up applications on each device by hand.”

Dittmer says GA Communication Group also takes advantage of the iTunes Volume Purchase Program, which lets users download company-sponsored apps by using their personal Apple ID and then keep the app if they ever leave the company. “We look at it as an added incentive to use the app; plus, it’s convenient not to have another password to remember,” he says.

John Jackson, research vice president for IDC, says GA Communication Group’s experience with AirWatch dovetails nicely with what he sees happening at many IT organizations.

“IT managers now understand that they need to manage applications in a granular way and through the lifecycle of the application,” Jackson says.

“It’s no longer sufficient to just provision a mobile app and let it out. The app has to be updated, maintained, secured and then disposed off at the end of its lifecycle,” he says.

Making the Transition to MDM

For Mike Clancy, vice president of information technology services for SIHO Insurance Services in Columbus, Ind., subscribing to Fiberlink MaaS360 about three years ago made a great deal of sense economically.


The percentage of IT managers surveyed who say that their organizations are developing mobile applications for the enterprise

SOURCE: “The Enterprise Mobility Guide for IT Management and CIOs” (iPass/MobileIron, February 2013)

“We estimate that we have saved close to $10,000 in hardware and licensing fees associated with the Maas360 solution implementation,” Clancy says of using a managed service. “In addition, we were able to bring the solution into production with less than 40 hours of staff time — less than half of what we expected to spend in time and resources on comparable solutions.”

And that was just for starters. Clancy says mobile application management at SIHO is an ongoing effort that just started in earnest last December. He intends to use the MAM features in MaaS360 to block certain applications, and push out policies and other, approved applications.

“We’re also looking at using the MAM features to handle version control on applications remotely,” Clancy says. “We looked at MAM as a small, added feature when we first started, but that’s going to change in the next 16 to 18 months as more mobile devices and applications proliferate.”