Moka5 working on a 'next-generation container' that brings EMM-like features to Windows and Mac OS.

Update, February 24, 2015: A preview version of Project SkyNet is now available for Windows.

Update, February 24, 2015: A preview version of Project SkyNet is now available for Windows. (The Mac preview is coming soon.)

Moka5 is known for their bare metal and type-2 client hypervisors, Windows layering technology, and their file syncing and remote access app for iOS. Now they’re planning to add to that with an Android version of their mobile app and—most interesting—a containerized file syncing and remote access application for Windows and Mac OS X called Project SkyNet.

You can think of Project SkyNet as a lighter version of Moka5’s type-2 hypervisor (since it doesn’t include a Windows virtual machine) or you can think of it as their iOS app scaled up for desktop OSes—but either way it’s in a perfect spot for today’s needs.

Last week I caught up with John Whaley, the founder and CTO of Moka5, and Naveed Makhani, VP of product management, to learn more about their plans.

The “next-generation container”

Right now they’re still in the development stages and referring to Project SkyNet as a “next-generation container.” Even though it will be a desktop app for Windows or Mac, it will work the way that many enterprise mobile apps do today:

  • Secure connectivity will be built-in, so there’ll be no need for a users to get a VPN agent up and running every time they need to work. (For now it will simply connects to Moka5’s mobile gateway, but VPN integration is on the roadmap.)
  • There will be a built-in browser to provide secure and managed access to internal web apps, intranet sites, and SaaS apps.
  • It will support SSO and multi-factor authentication.
  • Since all the browser traffic goes through the gateway, it’ll be possible to reroute, monitor, or add any desired policies.
  • The apps will access and browse files and various content repositories, acting as an enterprise file sync and share solution.
  • There will be light document editing features (OEMed from a partner). Obviously Office 365 or Google Docs would be a good combination with this, too.
  • All the local storage (both for file syncing and the browser) will be encrypted and can be remote-wiped.
  • IT will have control over data sharing (cut and paste, drag and drop, printing, etc.).
  • Finally, since this is intended to run on unmanaged endpoints, it will have the intelligence to ensure the integrity of the host via malware scans, keylogger detection, etc., just like they’ve been doing with their type-2 hypervisor.
Additional information as of February 24, 2015: The SkyNet container will be based on a modified version of Chromium. Essentially, MokaFive took a lot of the technology used to manage and secure their Type-2 hypervisor product (LivePC) and married it with Chromium. The document editing functionality will come from LibreOffice.

Why this is cool

It’s easy to see a lot of use cases for Project SkyNet. Think of the times where you might want a type-2 hypervisor but don’t actually need a full Windows environment. It could be used to wrap security around SaaS and web apps, or it could even be used to take the hassle out of remote access for corporate laptops.

But most of all, I see Moka5’s forthcoming collection of desktop containers and mobile apps as a good fit for the many companies that haven’t done much to deal with the “new world” of end user computing yet—i.e. dealing with Macs, BYOPC, BYOD, growing numbers of SaaS apps, and EMM and mobility in general. The apps just solve so many different pressing issues, all at once, on all platforms and devices.

Going forward, Moka5 is also talking about adding MDM capabilities. This would make it possible to enabling secure sharing between Moka5’s apps and other apps using the OS-enabled MAM frameworks in iOS and the next version of Android. I’ve been wondering if Moka5 would get into MDM and MAM for a few years now. They have additional expertise with the team of former BigFix folks that came over last year, so this is certainly a good entry point for them.

Moka5 is planning to preview Project SkyNet early next year and have general availability in Q2. The MDM components are targeted for the second half of the year.

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