Soti extends MobiControl for multi-vendor mobile deployments

Soti extends MobiControl for multi-vendor mobile deployments

Soti is about to go live with an expanded version of its MobiControl mobility management software. Version 11 offers full support for Samsung KNOX Android security, a user-based licensing option, new self-service features for bring-your-own-device end users, and support for iOS 7, Windows Phone 8.1 and other platforms.

MobiControl version 11 is Soti's latest step in creating a software application that lets enterprise IT groups get a grip on rapidly changing, heterogeneous mobile deployments. Like many other vendors in this market, Soti is broadening its focus from device management to "mobility management" diverse operating systems, thousands of devices, mobile security including data security, and policy-based management actions.

Samsung's KNOX is a container-based set of features and APIs that are specifically designed to improve Android security on Samsung devices. KNOX is implemented through third-party device management applications, such as MobiControl. Soti worked closely with Samsung and the new MobiControl version will work smoothly with the KNOX's container for Android apps and data.

Enterprise customers now have a user-based licensing option. In the past, MobiControl offered per-device licensing. Now, a company can add users, each with up to four separate devices, for a set monthly fee per user. For existing customers, "their [license] prices will go down" if they select the new option, says Ronn Hassanwala, chief operating officer for Soti. For some customers, costs could start as low as $60 per employee yearly, according to a Soti statement.

The previous MobiControl version introduced the Manage Your Own Device (MYOD) self-service portal for employees to enroll their devices and handle a range of other management tasks such as resetting passwords, wiping data on a lost or stolen device, and so on. The new version lets employees un-enroll their devices.

Version 11 will have full support for the radically redesigned iOS 7. "It's the biggest thing that's ever happened to iOS," says Hassanwala. "We looked at the iOS 7 mobile device management stack and there's more functionality by far."

One key change is Apple's creation of a secure container at the operating system level. "It revolutionizes the way we think about containers," Hassanwala says. Until now, he says, actually getting apps into a third-party container, and getting software developers to wrap apps that are not allowed in the container, has been a "complex process."

That changes with iOS 7: an enterprise app can only exchange data with another managed app, for example. Corporate files can't be uploaded to DropBox because "DropBox isn't on the approved list," he says. With MobiControl 11, users can simply download files, which are automatically placed in the iOS 7 container.

Other changes in the upcoming release include automated device configuration and application provisioning, with little or no end user actions needed; and "geo-aware content access" MobiControl can identify a device's location and then apply access restrictions for corporate data.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.Twitter:

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