Mobile device, security and mobile app management player MobileIron, continues to add interesting new functionality to its MDM, MAM and security platform. Having moved well beyond pure mobile device management by adding significant mobile app and mobile content security and management capabilities, MobileIron has done a good job of raising the mobile technology bar, and has done so fairly frequently over the last year.
To be sure, competitors in the space such as independent vendor AirWatch, Zenprise (now owned by Citrix) and the giant SAP (News - Alert) (through its Afaria platform) more or less move right along with MobileIron. But the company continues to be the one in the pack that most often moves the needle first. Now, it has taken an entirely new direction in an effort to deliver a secure HTML5 Web content and Web app platform.
To do so, MobileIron has launched its entirely new MobileIron Web@Work, a standalone, secure mobile browser that specifically targets the enterprise and the enterprise workforce. The initial release targets iOS - meaning iPhones and iPads. Web@Work essentially extends MobileIron's security and management platform for native mobile apps to Web content and Web apps, and in particular targets those apps built on HTML5.
The interesting twist in the new product is that the mobile device management provider has considered the end-user's experience in designing the browser - that is, the company has looked to maintain the user friendliness and retain the familiarity of Safari for users. Web@Work specifically looks to preserve the native iOS web-browsing experience while adding a deep layer of security to all enterprise business conducted through the browser.
To make this happen Web@Work secures data-at-rest through the containerization of local web data and enforcement of Data Loss Prevention (DLP) controls. Web@Work secures data-in-motion through identity-based tunneling and access control. For end-users, Web@Work delivers an experience like the native browser that accurately renders pages just as the user would expect. These foundational capabilities are all part of the larger MobileIron platform, as its customers will quickly recognize.
We caught up with Ojas Rege, MobileIron's VP of strategy to talk about the new browser.
Ojas, what exactly was the primary goal in building yet another mobile browser?
"Well, I don't know if I would call it 'yet another mobile browser,' though technically that is accurate. But the security we've added makes it anything but that. Users don't think about Web content and apps they need the same way IT thinks about it. Whether or not the content or apps are inside or outside of the firewall is, in a sense, a strange concept for them - they just want to use the apps and data they need to do their jobs. Through Web@Work, any authorized user can now do exactly that - and whether it is a legacy Web resource or a new mobile HTML 5 app doesn't matter. Enterprise IT gets its enterprise-grade security on the back-end, and the mobile user enjoys a native user experience on the front-end. Our goal is to deliver a great native user experience with secure data.
OK, it's not just another mobile browser. But is it Safari? Do users tap on the Safari icon to bring up Web@Work once it is deployed to their iPhones or iPads?
"Well no, there is still a Safari icon that allows users to go visit all of their personal sites - nothing changes there. Web@Work is an entirely new application that is made up of the following four components:
- Web Viewer
- Data Controls
- ·Policy Management
We use the native Web viewer in iOS - so it does absolutely look and feel like Safari, and we integrate it with our MobileIron security stack. It is an entirely separate code stack, and it uses its own separate icon. So the user taps that different icon to start things up but otherwise it’s entirely transparent. It feels like Safari - only it is inherently secure."
Easy enough then for any user to deal with. Can you connect the platform and browser dots for us?
"Sure thing. The first thing we do to secure data-in-motion - that is, the data the user is accessing on his or her device, is to create a tunnel for traffic from the enterprise to Web@Work - but without the need for a VPN. Now the user can easily get to all the legacy Web apps behind the firewall. This will sound familiar to MobileIron IT customers.
"Next, we containerize data-at-rest by adding data loss prevention (DLP) controls to encrypt and wipe persistent data when necessary, and restrict 'open in' and cut/copy/paste functions. This is especially important for HTML 5 apps which have persistent data.
"Finally - and this is critical - we tie the browsing experience to the MobileIron policy engine, so that users, roles, and permissions already set in MobileIron are used to configure Web@Work - for example, pre-configuring bookmarks, and compliance policies - such as wiping cached data from a device that is jail broken - can easily be enforced."
We can assume of course that iOS is the most prevalent mobile OS amongst your customers. Do you have plans to deliver an Android and Windows Phone (News - Alert) version?
"Yep. The first release is for iOS for the reason you note, but we will be launching Android and Windows Phone versions as well in the future and the architectural model will be the same."
Is Web@Work available immediately?
“Yes it is.We just launched it and customers can now purchase and start using the product. We’ve had a great deal of interest within our customer base - as you might imagine enterprise IT is anxious to provide users a native iOS browsing experience with full data security.”
Edited by Jamie Epstein