Is Google Eyeing the Mobile Enterprise with New Management Tools?By Leah Gabriel Nurik | Print
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Google's new administrative tools are designed to securely manage e-mail and applications across mobile devices. And while Google maintains Android is currently a consumer device, a spokesperson tells Channel Insider that future versions will offer more functionality for IT managers.
Google has strengthened its Google Apps enterprise IT management
capabilities by unveiling new administrative tools designed to securely manage
e-mail and applications across a wide range of mobile devices, including
iPhone, Nokia E Series and Windows Mobile devices.
The new tools allow Google Apps Premier and Education Edition administrators to manage enterprise smartphones directly from the Google Apps control panel, without having to deploy additional third-party mobile device management software offered by vendors like Sybase iAnywhere and Good Technology (formerly Visto).
IT administrators can lock down and remotely wipe data from lost or stolen mobile devices and establish more complex password administration protocols. Google Apps Premier business customers pay $50 per user per year, while educational institutions receive the service free.
Google Apps supports almost every device on the market today, including RIM BlackBerry with the introduction last year of its Connector for Blackberry Enterprise Servers. However, interestingly, Google has yet to produce enhanced security and mobile management support for RIM BlackBerry or even its own Android phones like the Droid and its recently unveiled Nexus One.
When it comes to entering the enterprise, Google’s moves, so far, appear deliberate and calculated. Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported Google plans on launching an online business software store packed with third-party applications that seamlessly integrate with Google Apps, which may replace today’s Google Solutions Marketplace. Google would not confirm the plans, saying only, "We're constantly working with our partners to deliver more solutions to businesses, but we have nothing to announce at this time."
The company also remains mum on when it will commit fully to an enterprise Android strategy. A Google spokesperson told Channel Insider, "To date, Android-powered phones have been targeted toward consumers. Future versions of Android will introduce more functionality for IT managers to deploy enterprise devices, which will be of particular interest to our Google Apps customers."
Google’s silence is not stopping some business-to-business software developers and VARs from supporting Android, however. DataViz, the creator of Documents to Go and RoadSync, is experiencing substantial success in the Android Market, telling Channel Insider that it is close to reaching 500,000 downloads of its introductory version in the Android Marketplace. The company’s software also comes preloaded on RIM BlackBerrys, and supports Symbian-powered phones and iPhone. DataViz also offers an enterprise version of its software, complete with volume licensing. The company has a variety of resellers like CDW and Insight.
Good Technology, a provider of enterprise mobile security and device management software as well as mobile e-mail and collaboration software, recently announced its support for Android. Good faces an uphill battle as its offerings are slowly being challenged with the release of the ActiveSync protocol and bundled versions of mobile device management and security offerings by Microsoft and Google.
Enterprise mobile application and platform provider Antenna Software supports Android as well, and sees the growing pervasiveness of Android in the enterprise as key to its business.
"Overall, we believe very much that device diversity is a wonderful thing—people love choice, and the fact that Google is creating choice is great for the market. We see a good amount of interest and pull for Android from our customers," says Jim Somers, Antenna’s chief marketing and strategy officer.
The mobile OS wars continue to provide sport and plenty of blood-letting for those interested, and the fun is only beginning. Apple and Microsoft are facing a massive threat with the increased adoption of Android and Google Apps. Apple CEO Steve Jobs thinks he knows what Google wants, telling employees recently, "Make no mistake, they want to kill the iPhone." Jobs continued, using an expletive to describe Google’s "Don’t Be Evil mantra," which the search giant quietly dropped last spring.
Time will tell, but if Google’s early 2010 moves are any indication, the mobile enterprise is set clearly in the company’s sights.