Note: This article has been updated since it was published. Scroll all the way down for more information.
Last week endpoint backup vendor Druva announced a partnership with MobileIron to bring backup capabilities to apps that use MobileIron’s MAM platform. This is interesting for companies concerned about e-discovery because it gives more visibility into mobile devices than was previously possible.
Endpoint backup and mobility
At first it seems like traditional endpoint backup doesn’t really apply to mobile devices. (Brian even wrote about this last fall.) Most of the data on mobile devices is already synced to back end systems, mobile apps are easy to provision, and devices are easy to configure, anyway.
Mobile backups do exist, but with some caveats. For iOS they’re limited to proprietary systems like iTunes, iCloud, and the Apple Configurator. All that a third party can do is simply use an agent app to back up data the limited data that iOS makes available through shared frameworks, like contacts and photos. On Android there’s more that can be accessed, but again, it’s not everything. (You can do more if the device is rooted, though.)
All this means that for backup vendors, mobile is somewhat of a mixed bag because they can’t treat a phone or a tablet the same as a laptop. Instead, the alternative approach has been for vendors to build products that take captured from laptop backups and make it available on mobile devices, in effect creating enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) apps.
More mobile visibility
With last week’s announcement, Druva has figured out a new way to get deeper into mobile devices.
Why is this interesting? Like I said earlier, a lot of people think that there’s less of a need to back up mobile devices in the traditional sense. However, there is another major reason to be concerned about backup: e-discovery and data governance.
To get deeper into mobile devices, Druva has partnered with MobileIron so they can have visibility into any MobileIron AppConnect app. (AppConnect is MobileIron’s MAM platform, so that means that any app that’s wrapped, built with the the SDK, or comes from a partner ISV will also work with Druva.)
In theory, the backups that Druva pulls out of these corporate apps—when combined with the appropriate metadata—can be used in e-discovery situations, decreasing the likelihood of users having to hand over their devices when something goes down and the lawyers come around. (Not to mention that this is much faster and easier than pulling data out manually.)
Of course since this is a brand new approach, Druva mentioned that it hasn’t been tested in any court cases yet. (Though using endpoint backup technology for laptops has been.)
Druva is calling this InSync for MobileIron. It’s available for iOS now and according to the press release an Android version will “follow shortly.”
I like that this exists to provide more visibility for companies that want it. But there are some contingencies and unanswered questions—You have to be both a MobileIron and a Druva customer; you have to be at the point where you’re actually thinking about mobile apps; and this is still somewhat uncharted territory. On the other hand, if this could help ease some companies’ fears about getting deeper into mobility, then that’s a good thing.
So I’m curious, what do you think? Would this have any impact at your company or on your policies? Could this ease compliance fears with mobility? Or is it still too soon? Let us know in the comments.
Friday, September 2, 2014, 5:00pm PST
While I was originally told by Druva that their partnership with MobileIron would allow them to back up any MobileIron AppConnect-enabled app, there was an error and that wasn't exactly right. MobileIron reached out with a clarification to say that this is not the case, saying:
"In reality, Druva’s inSync app is now AppConnect-enabled, meaning Druva provides visibility for files within inSync, and MobileIron provides management parameters and encryption for those files. Druva can’t see data from any AppConnect-enabled apps except inSync."
Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 2:00pm PST
Druva also reached out with a clarification, saying:
"Today, the inSync mobile app is only able to backup and provide full governance capabilities on the data that passes through it. IT is able to configure which data to give inSync access to, although the types of data allowable are in some cases limited by the device’s OS. The inSync app does interact with other AppConnect apps in the ecosystem, and this allows for the logging of audit trails and other basic governance abilities, as well as passing content between apps as allowed. inSync does not have access to the unique data in other AppConnect apps at this time. [...] The future intent is to extend greater governance capabilities across the entire MobileIron AppConnect ecosystem. This would include comprehensive audit trails, the ability to track the movement of data, the ability to search across data in all apps, and the ability to provide backup functionality where needed. We are seeing an increasing need for unified governance in organizations, and the ability to do this broadly across end user laptops and smart devices will become a critical need, and we see solutions like MobileIron as an important step in achieving this goal."