IBM Expands Mobility Management, Security

By Alison Diana  |  Print this article Print

IBM has unveiled a solution to mitigate the risk that comes with a bring your own device (BYOD) mobility strategy, offering end-point protection that secures and can wipe most mobile devices including Apple iOS and Android.

IBM has unveiled software designed to help organizations secure and manage mobile devices, and give solution providers an opportunity to extend their reach and mobile business. 

In addition to this new software, IBM announced its acquisition of Worklight, a privately held Israeli-based provider of mobile software for smartphones and tablets. Financial terms were not disclosed. The move was part of IBM’s initiative to help organizations leverage the explosion of mobile devices and the resulting security concerns that arise from the mix of personally- and corporate-owned products.

"What’s different this year is so far, we’ve seen a lot of point solutions this year. What I think people are really looking for now is a much more comprehensive solution," said Bob Sutor, vice president, IBM Mobile Platform, in an interview.

IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices gives organizations one solution to secure and manage smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop PCs, and servers. The software manages Apple iOS, Google Android, Nokia Symbian, Microsoft Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone devices.

On the security side, IBM’s software extends security intelligence to cope with the growing number and type of threats created by the "Bring Your Own Device" trend, in which employees use their own smartphones, tablets, or notebooks to access corporate data. Corporate IT can install Endpoint Manager, and remotely set policies; identify potential data compromises, and wipe data off devices if they are lost or stolen. In addition, the software helps IT professionals configure and enforce password policies, encryption, and virtual private network (VPN) settings.

"It’s one thing if I’m playing Angry Birds; it’s another thing if I’m accessing the latest sales figures," said Sutor.

The Worklight acquisition will provide IBM with an open platform that helps speed the delivery of existing and new mobile applications to multiple devices. It also helps enable secure connections between smartphone and tablet applications with enterprise IT systems. With Worklight, IBM is now able to deliver ubiquitous connectivity by allowing organizations to build and connect mobile applications; manage and secure mobile devices, and extend existing capabilities and capitalize on new business opportunities.

"In the last year, we have seen surging demand from enterprises for mobility solutions that will support the unique set of challenges introduced by new smartphone and tablet platforms," said Shahar Kaminitz, CEO and founder of Worklight in a statement. "Building on our existing partnership with IBM, the acquisition of Worklight further enhances IBM's broad mobile portfolio. Now it will be easier than ever for our clients to offer secure and connected applications to their customers, business partners and employees."

Although formal programs are only in the beginning stages, there are many opportunities for the channel, Sutor said. IBM partners can build mobile applications that talk to legacy systems or that reside on the server, for example, said Sutor. Or partners could use their vertical-market expertise to create business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-enterprise (B2E) applications, he noted.

"[Partners should] think about what they’ve done before with the IBM infrastructure. What they’re doing in their business that’s special and how to, on the one hand, how do I mobile enable this. How do I take what I have now and extend the opportunity because of mobile?" said Sutor. "In one sense we want them to visualize great new mobile apps and say, what is their role? How can they enable those things? It’ll be a joint partnership in those ways too."

Solution providers should free-up their imaginations beyond vertical-markets—such as healthcare and finance—that have already embraced mobile, he said.

"How will mobile change the factory floor. What will it mean for mining?" Sutor asked.

In addition, business partners should reap opportunity by leveraging Worklight for geolocation solutions that integrate entire areas, such as an airport, he said.