Mobile management company Good Technology has been at the forefront of the evolution of mobile in the workplace, and its latest product is no exception.
The Good Secure Mobility Solution starts from an important realization about the way mobile professionals work on their smartphones and tablets: they're likely to use several different apps to accomplish a goal. This is different from the way many or us work on a desktop or laptop PCs, where most tasks happen in a single application. That may sound like a simple notion, but it isn't. If you're trying to impose app-based security on mobile devices, you can very easily break the connections between multiple apps on which users rely.
Building on previous products
At its heart, Good Secure Mobility Solution is an extension of many of solution products and components that Good has unveiled previously, and builds on Good's existing containerization technology and on the Good Dynamics platform that the company launched early last year.
Good Dynamics offers developers an SDK that they can use to integrate their products into Good's secure mobile environment. The SDK is available to enterprise developers creating in-house apps for their company or client as well as to mainstream developers that want to partner with Good. To date several business and productivity developers have partnered with Good, including Box, Good Reader, Office2, Smart Office, Accellion, and mobilEcho.
The company also offers an app-wrapping feature, so business or enterprise apps that aren't built with the Good Dynamics APIs can still be secured within Good containerization system.
With its new product, Good is taking the concept further than just containerizing, and thus securing, apps and app data.
The Secure Mobility Solution introduces a feature called AppKinetics, which offers encrypted app-to-app communication, allowing apps to exchange data securely. That, in turn, allows the creation of secure multi-app workflows. It's a step beyond the standard data leak protection (DLP) features offered by a range of app management solutions. Rather than just preventing users from from opening a sensitive document or copying and pasting sensitive content into an app outside the secure container, AppKinetics establishes a mechanism that allows users to transfer data between discreetly secured apps.
This allows IT staff, business managers, or individual users to develop sophisticated multi-app workflows without reducing the security policies in place for each app.
Monolithic apps don't work on mobile
This kind of interaction wasn't really necessary on desktop PCs because desktop apps -- particularly enterprise apps -- are often multi-purpose. The entire workflow to prepare a document, review an insurance claim, process an expense report, update an electronic health record, or document a help desk call often happens within a single application on the desktop.
But one of the primary lessons that many enterprise developers and IT departments are learning is that old-style monolithic apps don't tend to work well on mobile devices. Developing truly great mobile apps and mobile user experiences almost always requires breaking the business processes contained in a single desktop app into their constituent parts, and then developing smaller task-oriented apps for smartphones and tablets.
This process isn't limited to just enterprise apps. For example, if I want to crop, color correct, add a filter or texture, and add text to a photo on a PC or Mac, I can accomplish all of those tasks -- and quite a bit more -- in Photoshop.
To do the same thing on my iPhone, I typically use a handful of apps -- Camera, Photos, iPhoto, Photolettering, and Vintique being my personal choices, though there are plenty of other app combinations to do the same things. Because I'm just using my own personal photos in this example, I don't need to worry about restrictions designed to protect company data.
Good is simply providing a mechanism to allow knowledge workers to have that same flexibility while still keeping corporate information secure.
That's acknowledging that successful mobile initiatives need to take into account user workflows that span multiple apps. It also means that the focus isn't on managing the device and, to some extent, isn't really about managing a specific app. Instead the focus is on securing the data in a way that doesn't restrict how users can interact with that data. (In fact, one of the interesting points Good makes is that MDM isn't needed to take advantage of this technology -- though enterprise distribution and provisioning mechanisms like Good AppCentral are needed.)
As an added feature, the program offers app analytics so that IT can see who is using the secured apps, when, and how. It also adds new features to the Good Dynamics SDK for developers -- including an Android SDK, Adobe PhoneGap support, and the ability to link into other Good products like Connect (secure IM) and Share (document sharing via SharePoint and other file servers).
Overall, it's a solid addition to the lineup of one of the top mobile management vendors, and will keep competitors like AirWatch paying close attention.