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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

"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.