AppSense announced today the acquisition of a mobile IT startup, RAPsphere. In a blog post, AppSense CTO Harry Labana describes the acquisition as "BYOApps & MIM" (mobile information management). There's not too much information about RAPsphere itself, but based on Harry's comments all signs point towards it being some sort of "app wrapping" product. App wrapping is a way to modify mobile applications without having to re-write code or use an SDK.
Here's a quick look at how AppSense/RAPsphere compares to other types of mobile application management (MAM) products, and why I think it does app wrapping:
“RAPsphere provides fine-grain policy and security controls of enterprise apps/data while preserving users' native device experience — all without requiring any customizations to apps or the underlying OS.”
This makes it clear that control of apps doesn't come through features that have to be built in at the time of development using an SDK. The complaint about SDK-related solutions is that at the end of the day, somebody still has to actually build all of these features into an app, and you’re trustung that the developer didn’t leave any security holes.
“Without modifying apps, without modifying OS's, without modifying devices, RAPsphere delivers applications securely, ensure their content and data is isolated, controlled and encrypted.”
So this is also consistent with how app-wrapping works. You take a complete app package, and put it inside a larger batch of code that includes encryption, pass phrases, remote-kill switched, and anything else you can imagine, depending on what features the app-wrapping technology supports—there are things like geo-fencing, time expiration, or preventing the app from reading resources that it would normally. Also, there probably aren't MDM configuration profiles involved:
“RAPsphere's technology does NOT require IT to take complete control of users' devices and invade users' personal space (e.g., Airwatch, MobileIron, Zenprise)”
I say "probably" because some MAM solutions do take advantage of the information that gets gathered when configuration profile on the device—it gives visibility into a few certain things that individual apps can't see. Even though the MDM profiles distributed by some MAM solutions may not be doing anything too management-heavy, having the configuration profile on the device at all isn't what many people would consider BYOD-friendly.
We can assume that there will be some sort of enterprise app store with all the usual administrative controls, but nothing seems to indicate whether or not it would be a native app. Overall, I think this type of mobile application management is pretty cool, because it makes it possible to include almost all of the security features you would get from managing an entire device in just an individual application, instead. It will be interesting to see how this new mobile app management gets integrated with DataNow (first announce by Harry on Brian and Gabe LIVE as Project Orca and recently released to beta). What do you think? Leave a comment or track me down at Synergy this week.