Of the solutions covered in this series so far, Apperian EASE is the lightest: it only does application management, with no device management capabilities at all. While Apperian presents a strong story around not managing devices (scroll down to the illustrations on the bottom of their home page—they’re definitely making a statement), that’s really more of an ancillary benefit that comes from managing applications.
Apperian was started in 2009 out as an iPhone app development company, but as Cimarron Buser, VP of Business Development told me, among there reasons for creating their current product was that they found existing mobile enterprise application platforms like SyBase to be too heavy and complex. The resulting product, Apperian EASE (Enterprise App Services Environment), was launched in 2010.
EASE is a customizable enterprise app catalogue, available as a native app for originally for iOS and for Android starting last November. Organizations upload app packages to a web-based interface, and user identity can be tied to Active Directory credentials, or be handled through EASE itself. Administrators have the ability to push apps to users, as well as take inventory of what types of devices are using which apps, and analyse app usage. EASE also has provisions for delivering video and PDF content through the native app.
For iOS apps, Apperian provides an SDK that enables a few more deeply-integrated management capabilities:
- The Authentication feature verifies users’ credentials, and provides a temporary token that the other functions use to identify the user. The authentication can be through EASE to Active directory via LDAP, or through whatever proprietary authentication means happen to be built into an app.
- The Authorize feature takes the identity token and then checks to see if a user has permission to run a particular app. If there permission is denied, then the app can be rendered unusable.
- A version checking feature can ensure apps are up to date, and either require or suggest upgrading.
It’s not necessary for apps to use the SDK, though, and currently it’s only available for iOS.
The idea is that using the authentication and version features of the SDK, an ecosystem of third party companies can create applications that incorporate EASE’s idnetity federation features. Apperian announced several partners last year.
In addition to the SDK, EASE is also intended to be used by developers as they manage testing and rollout of new apps, and app templates are in the works.
Where does this fit in with BYOD?
Any mobile application management solution brings the potential to leave devices unmanaged, making for an excellent BYOD solution. Secure access to corporate resources can be built into applications, which can be safely managed on personal devices. However, a MAM solution assumes there are applications to distribute, which is one of the more difficult hurdles that would more likely be faced later on in the process of figuring out BYOD. So while technically Apperian EASE could create a split-personality environment on personal devices, it’s unlikely that it will be the first product a company reaches for when addressing BYOD.
This feature overview will be updated from time to time. If you notice any inaccuracies, please comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are a lot of vendors and features to keep track of, and I want to be sure and keep everything straight.
- Platform iOS, Android (native) iOS, Android, and Blackberry (HTML5)
- Architecture mobile application management with SDK for integrating authentication of iOS apps
- Security authentication can be through app catalogue; otherwise dependent on whatever features are built into individual apps
- App sources internally developed, with optional SDK
- How external apps are brought in packages are uploaded to management system
- App stores yes
- Split plans/phone numbers not applicable
- Management interface web-based
- On-site requirements none
- MDM capabilities can distribute iOS configuration profiles