Yesterday the Citrix Ready Worx App Gallery—Citrix’s mobile app management partner showroom—went live. However, with iOS 7 on its way, the mobile app management terrain will soon be different from what it was when Citrix first announced their partner program last year.
What is the Worx App Gallery?
If you’ve been following the enterprise mobility management space, you know that that many vendors have been working to find a way to apply granular management policies to corporate mobile apps without affecting users’ personal apps. This is something that mobile device management (MDM) traditionally hasn’t been very good at, so for the last year or two vendors have been working to build management features directly into mobile apps themselves (creating MAM). With this technique, apps have to be specifically built or modified to work with a particular vendor’s management platform. There are several different ways to get these apps, such as gathering an ecosystem of partner ISVs. This is what Citrix has done to create the Worx App Gallery. Citrix is doing well on this front—their partner app ecosystem is significantly larger than that of any other vendor.
How does the Worx App Gallery work?
Here’s how the Worx App Gallery works: Citrix’s ISV partners incorporate the Citrix mobile app management SDK into their apps, and then submit their apps to the Apple App Store or Google Play. These are just like any other app app—the MAM functionality lies dormant until needed. (This is different from other MAM vendors’ partner programs—some of them will have ISVs create a separate edition of their ap. On one hand this can make them partner apps easier to find, but on the other hand it can be confusing for users, and the “MAM-edition” of an app might not get updated at the same time as the normal version.)
The Worx App Gallery is essentially a list of all of the apps that are built with Citrix’s MAM SDK. XenMobile admins can use the gallery to find apps and provision links to them to their users, who then use the Worx Home app to browse to these apps (which remember are really just links provided by IT). When they select an app and tap on the icon, the links send them to the Apple App Store or Google Play. The app is then installed just like any other user-installed app, except of course these apps also have functionality that allows them to be managed by XenMobile.
Now of course since these apps are in public app stores, users can always go and find them on their own, and really so can anybody else. But again a random person downloading the app isn’t going to notice any of the XenMobile functionality. One more thing—if IT is using XenMobile MDM to manage the device, they can also push required apps (both public apps and private, enterprise-signed apps) to the device.
What about iOS 7?
Here’s where things get interesting. iOS 7 is going to take some of the mobile app management features that currently have to be implemented directly in apps (such as all those Worx apps) and make them available through the operating system.
This changes the mobile app management terrain quite a bit. In fact, your first reaction might be, “Whoa, so we don’t need to mess around with all these special partner apps anymore?” But while it’s true that iOS 7 will provide many of the same management features that are currently only available in specially-created apps (i.e. Citrix Worx App Gallery Apps), we have to remember that there are also inherent differences between OS-enabled MAM and third-party MAM that’s built into apps. There will a place for both technologies moving forwards. This is just one of several new issues that come up with iOS 7, and I’m going to dig into this more in tomorrow’s article.
Yesterday’s announcement from Citrix didn’t mention iOS 7, but considering the relevance of the topic, I asked them what they could share for right now. Many of the details of iOS 7 are still under NDA, so they couldn’t give us any specifics. (Here’s what we know for now.) However, they emphasized that their mobile app management capabilities will complement what iOS 7 will provide, and they still see plenty of use cases for third-party MAM that does not rely on the iOS MAM capabilities.