Nukona Manages Mobile App by App

Startup Nukona is taking a different tack from mobile virtualization advocates when it comes to securing and managing apps, introducing a "wrapper" for individual apps in which enterprises can apply a specific set of policies for each one.

This week, the enterprise mobile management vendor made generally available Version 2 of its iOS and Android software, which adds application policy management to Nukona's existing tools for device management and building customized enterprise app stores. For now, IT departments can choose from among a set of policies, such as requiring user authentication to use the app, encryption of all data the app stores on the device, and whether the app can be used offline. In the future, Nukona could give IT departments the ability to write their own policies, said Brad Murdoch, Nukona's chief marketing officer.

As IT departments watch more consumers bringing their own phones and tablets into work, and seek to allow this with "bring your own device" policies, carriers and software vendors are trying to help them protect the enterprise. Data security, virus protection and regulatory compliance are among the issues that have to be addressed when personal and business software coexist on a single device. This week, AT&T announced its Toggle software for setting up separate "sandboxes" for each aspect of a device, and Verizon Wireless is on the verge of doing the same with VMware virtualization.

These "dual-persona" architectures may limit enterprises' flexibility by imposing the same policies on all business apps, and they can force developers to modify apps in order to make them work within the sandbox, Murdoch said. Nukona's application policy management wrappers leave apps alone and allow for the right set of policies to be applied to each app, he said.

The consumer-oriented apps and features that may also reside on the devices don't affect the critical enterprise apps because of controls in the wrapper that are activated when employees begin to use an enterprise app, Murdoch said. For example, one policy Nukona is now developing would use new device control tools in iOS 5 to block an employee from using the camera while running a particular application. At any other time, that user would be free to take photos.

Nukona's enterprise app store software is designed to let companies set up stores of internally developed and third-party apps that are hand-picked by the IT department for appropriateness to all employees or certain departments or job descriptions. Employees with new devices can email the IT department to request a link to the password-protected store, Murdoch said. The new application policy "wrappers" can be used to impose controls on the apps in that store.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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