New XenMobile version speeds user access, actions

Citrix improves scaling, setup for mobile management product

Citrix has added several features to its mobility management software to make it easier for mobile users to authenticate and jump into online meetings, and easier for IT groups to set up large-scale device deployments.

In XenMobile 8.6, Citrix is exploiting its integration with companion products like GoToMeeting, Citrix ShareFile, and GoToAssist, to make it easier for mobile users to work and work together.

A good example, recounted by Ahmed Datoo, vice president of Citrix’s mobile platforms group, is that of another Citrix executive dialing into an online meeting while in a car. To complete the meeting connection, he had fallen back to the common shortcut of writing out the participant code number on a yellow sticky note and pasted it to his tablet. When prompted by the meeting software, he entered that number manually.

The new XenMobile release now does this for you, for both GoToMeeting and for Cisco’s rival WebEx software. You launch the meeting from your calendar by pressing the “Join Meeting” button, and your device dials the number and then auto-enters the participant code. “It’s a small but crucially important user experience detail,” Datoo says. “Instead of remembering and doing yet one more thing, your device takes care of it for you.”

A similar idea is behind XenMobile’s introduction of a simple PIN, instead of a more complex traditional password, to connect to work applications or even to make a phone call. At first, the new option seems almost counter-intuitive: four or five digits instead of a hard-to-guess jumble of letters, numbers and characters, with the corporate Active Directory as the basis for authentication.

But the ATM-like PIN is used in conjunction with a digital certificate installed on the device, based on identity information from Active Directory. The certificate provides the basis of authentication; the simple PIN becomes, in effect, a second factor to confirm it, and allow access to corporate data and services. If the device is lost or stolen, XenMobile lets an IT administrator delete the certificate, either manually or via an enforced policy. Even if someone guesses the PIN, the absence of the certificate will be detected and access blocked, says Datoo.

As mobile deployments grow larger, there is a growing demand for simplifying configuration, setup and rollout. XenMobile 8.6 includes changes so that both end users and IT groups can make the enrollment and configuration process easier, and do so for several locations at once. The new release creates a “one-step” enrollment process for users, and lets them auto-configure their email settings. A new set of wizards guides them through various setup steps. At the same time, changes to the console user interface let IT groups both aggregate and segment mobile users and devices at far-flung offices.

The new release also supports a new crop of APIs in the latest platform releases from Amazon, Apple (iOS 7) and in Samsung’s KNOX Android security software.

Other “enterprise mobility management” vendors include AirWatch, BoxTone, Fiberlink, Good Technology, MobileIron, SAP (its Sybase Afaria software), Sophos, SOTI, and Symantec.

XenMobile 8.6 will be available for download in November, with a choice of subscription license or permanent license on a per-user or per-device basis.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnwwjohn_cox@nww.com

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