Zenprise cloud service manages corporate mobile device surge

Zenprise this week unveiled a cloud-based mobile device management service, aimed at corralling the surge of personally owned handheld devices in small- to medium-size companies.

The new service, dubbed Zencloud, essentially puts the Zenprise MobileManager application on the Citrix XenServer platform running in third-party data centers, where it can be accessed by IT or business managers via a Web browser. Zencloud provides all of the features found in the server-based Zenprise product, which until now has been deployed behind a company firewall.

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But some high-end security features will require the recently introduced Zenprise Secure Mobile Gateway, deployed inside the enterprise. Currently in beta test, Zencloud is due to be available in July; service pricing won't be announced until then.

"To IT administrators, Zencloud looks exactly the same [as the server product]," says Ahmed Datoo, chief marketing officer for the Redwood City, Calif.-based Zenprise.

Administrators use a browser to log into Zencloud's administrative console. They can see the managed devices, their hardware and software inventory information, provision devices and applications, and set and enforce a range of security policies on handheld devices running RIM's BlackBerry OS, Apple's iOS, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows Mobile (but not yet Windows Phone 7) operating systems. The appropriate Zenprise client or agent is downloaded and installed on each device.

Zenprise touts its ability to give IT mangers visibility and control of a complete mobile service, from the end user's device and applications, through the carrier's cellular network, to the company's data center or servers.

The Zenprise Secure Mobile Gateway application on the corporate network adds additional features. SMG talks with the Zenprise client and monitors the state of the device. As a result, the application can detect malware or infected devices and block them from connecting to the corporate network. And administrators can set up application whitelists, for authorized applications, or blacklists, for blocking unwanted apps, for devices. The gateway can also detect unauthorized personal devices and block them from corporate network access.

For Zencloud, the vendor is offering what it calls "100 percent Service Level Agreement." According to Datoo, this means that in the case of a Zencloud outage, the company will grant service credits to the affected customers. "The moment the outage occurs, we start paying those credits," he says. The size of the credit will depend on the customer's monthly payment for the Zencloud service. In addition, the credits increase as the outage continues: doubling after a certain point, then tripling.

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww

Email: john_cox@nww.com

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