Google Double-Dips with Two Significant Mobile Enterprise Security Announcements

By John Arkontaky
On Jun 13, 2014
Friday, June 13, 2014

It’s no secret that one of the biggest knocks on Google’s Android operating system (OS) is its lack of enterprise controls. But, Google’s back-to-back mobility management announcements buck that trend.

Recently, Google launched new IT features for Google Apps Mobile Management, giving administrators a few new toys to play with. Google Apps Mobile Management is the mobile management portion of Google Admin, an IT management platform for Google Apps for Business, Education or Government customers. Through Google Admin, administrators can enroll users, create user-based groups, enroll devices, and execute basic app and mobile device management functions such as monitor app usage, enforce policies, or perform remote device wipes. It supports iOS, Windows Phone 8, BlackBerry 10, and of course Android.

The newest additions to the management portal offers:

  • Detection and device locking for rooted devices
  • Detection and device locking for tinkering like custom ROM installations
  • Time-based device wipes (for instances where devices aren't synced to Android and/or Google Sync
  • Push certificate authority (CA) certifications for WiFi networks with EAP protocols

It’s important to note that these features are only for Android devices. Although it’s not a particularly robust tool, it’s encouraging to see Google investing and building out mobile enterprise security. This gives credence to the importance of mobility to businesses and underscores the necessity of keeping bring your own device (BYOD) and corporate-issued devices alike under compliance.

Google Apps Mobile Management isn’t an ideal solution for all organizations. Its app support is limited to apps in Google Marketplace and the platform generally lacks more granular security controls you find with the top players in the enterprise mobility management (EMM) space. However, companies leveraging Google apps looking to dip a toe in EMM would do well to start with Google’s platform--mainly because it’s free for companies enrolled in Google Apps for Business, Education or Government programs and Google boasts its Web-based management console to be fairly simplistic.   

In other, equally important news, the tech giant also purchased Divide, a company dedicated to cloud-based BYOD management. A snapshot of Divide’s key features include: a secure, separate container ecosystem for productivity apps; proprietary applications; FIPS 140-2 compliant, 256-bit encryption for data, and a secure data tunnel over existing WiFi network.

Divide announced that its current customers won’t see any changes to their service, but we have yet to hear exactly how Google plans to leverage the company’s BYOD expertise and assets. Google isn’t known for taking a backseat to competitors, but it has some catch-up work if it wants to pull even with companies like Good Technology, MobileIron, AirWatch, Citrix, Fiberlink, or SAP. Building out Google Admin’s EMM functionality and bringing Divide’s solutions under Google’s roof will go a long way to pulling closer to EMM leaders.

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