Finally, mobile management both IT and users can get behind

MobileIron's new Anyware shows a smarter way to enable mobile users, especially in companies with Salesforce.com

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Many mobile application management (MAM) tools today are limited to homegrown apps or to apps that use the management vendor's APIs, which basically means they focus on a locked-down, often trivial set of programs. By contrast, Anyware lets companies build app catalogs from the public Apple App Store, business Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and homegrown collections. Some might be company-licensed, some may be company-developed, and some may be recommended "regular" apps for users to buy. It doesn't matter which.

That expansive view of an app catalog is not unique to Anyware -- but Anyware's integration with Salesforce.com is. Anyware is available via Force.com, as well as a stand-alone service, and Salesforce administrators can use it to distribute content and apps. Given that businesspeople best know what content and tools they and their staff need, the Salesforce integration is sound. That's why so many organizations use tools like Salesforce in the first place: to let businesspeople get their jobs done themselves, without waiting for IT. The notion that IT must be the gatekeeper for all activities is untenable, and it's not a great use of IT's chops.

Anyware is a first-generation service, and it could go further. For example, it's designed for iOS and Android devices, but not for Windows PCs or Macs. That's not such a big deal for apps, but of course content doesn't -- and shouldn't -- care what device a person is using it on. Effective content distribution needs to be treat mobile devices and traditional computers equally and interchangeably. MobileIron says it plans to support OS X and Windows 8.1 in 2014, as well as Windows Phone.

Anyware does not not integrate its content distribution with Salesforce, so business admins will end up using both systems even for the same content. That might change in the future, whether due to the efforts of third parties or MobileIron itself will depend on user demand.

But the fundamental approach in Anyware to me reflects how the world does and should work: Businesspeople should be enabled to use the tools and documents they need, and they should have easy ways to distribute them -- except when they shouldn't.

This article, "Finally, mobile management both IT and users can get behind," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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