MobileSpaces: Secure, full Google App support to iOS and Android

Running an app is one thing. Running it securely is another.

One of the challenges of allowing mobile workers to utilize their personal mobile devices is that while many apps can be run, the platform can make them insecure. MobileSpaces has just released the newest version of its container-based workspace that allows users to run apps such as Google Apps in a safe and secure environment, which can be managed centrally via browser.

A primary function of many mobile device management (MDM) solutions is designating what apps are safe to be run. Many MDM solutions, according to MobileSpaces CEO David Goldschlag don't actually allow users to run the full Google Apps suite. They substitute their own versions of email or calendar, for instance, which may be secure, but dot not offer the same functionally as the actual Google apps.

In an email exchange I had with MobileSpaces CTO Yoav Weiss after speaking with Goldschlag, he explained that while the MobileSpaces container is not quite the same as a "Docker" kind of container in Linux, it is somewhat similar. It is a virtual environment but not a hypervisor or separate OS.  But Android and iOS present some unique challeges which Weiss and his team have overcome with their workspace.

Actually the MobileSpaces workspace is not just for Google Apps. It is an application-agnostic workspace where just about any app can be run in a secure, managed environment. Goldschlag said there really isn't a limit to what you can run in a workspace, it really is just up to what tool an administrator needs to give workers.

While BYOD is widely used, for the most part organizations have not caught up with how to both empower employees to use these mobile devices and maintain control and security over the apps they are running for work-related activity. Solutions like MobileSpaces bridge that gap and should facilitate even more BYOD adoption while allowing corporate administrators to rest easy.

Another topic I spoke to MobileSpaces about was the difference between securing apps in Android versus iOS. While most of the attention about mobile security is centered on the Android platform, Apple's mobile platform is not impenetrable. In fact Goldschlag thinks most all mobile platforms can be compromised. However, that being said, there are definitely challenges in making the MobileSpaces solution work in both Apple and Android.

The MobileSpaces workspace solution could spell the end of MDM vendors offering their own versions of email and calendar programs, which in my own experience are frankly lacking compared to commercial apps. Back in the day I remember using GoodMail, for instance, for mobile apps. I never thought it gave me the same experience I was getting with generally available applications. Being able to use the "real" applications should make for happier users.

Of course, some users may still rebel against the idea of big brother still managing the apps they use for work on their own devices. But I think that is a fair trade off for getting corporate approval to use your device and for the security it provides.

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