Trellia to add Android support for policy control

Android has become the fastest growing mobile operating system, but a number of enterprises don’t think it’s secure enough for them.

However, an executive of a Montreal-based mobile policy management software company Trellia Networks said Tuesday the firm will soon extend its application to oversee devices running the open source OS making it safe enough “for hospitals or corporations to deploy.”

Raffi Tchakmakjian, vice-president of product management of Trellia Networks, said in an interview that an Android module for the company’s hosted service and on-premise security and cost control software will be released in June.

 That will join modules for devices running Apple Inc.’s iOS operating system and for Research in Motion’s BlackBerrys.

The modules put an agent on devices for enforcing corporate policies, ranging from which networks subscribers are authorized to use and data plan management to wiping the device remotely.

In Toronto for an Apple training conference for support staff, Tchakmakjian said that through its carrier partners, the company has been going after customers with iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry deployments because the devices are the most popular smart phones. However, he sees a surge in Android device growth coming in the second half of the year and Trellia wants to be ready.

The Android module will be similar to the iOS plug in to Trellia’s MPM Baseline application, including the ability to remotely wipe a device, remotely reset passwords and control access to email.

It will also have granular application control so administrators can set what apps cannot be installed.

[They differ from the BlackBerry module, which sits atop BlackBerry Enterprise Server and only offers cost management capabilities rather than replicate BES’s security functions.]

Pricing is expected to be the same as other modules: For the hosted version, $3 a month per user a year plus an annual server access fee that varies on the number of devices. Access fees start at $299 per organization for up to 300 devices, and increase for 1,000 devices and up. The on-premise version has a one-time $48 a year per device licence fee plus an annual maintenance charge.

The privately-held company started operations in 2004 targeting laptops and only got into smart phones last fall. Three years ago it launched a cloud-based version which has proved popular with its target base of small and medium-sized businesses.

“We have a solution that easily caters to that market,” Tchakmakjian said. “It has an easy entry point, delivers points specific to the nature of those types of companies who require fast delivery and don’t want to sped a lot of time putting in infrastructure.”

Today some 65 per cent of Trellia’s business comes from the hosted side.

Partners here are BCE Inc.’s Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp.

Tchakmakjian said his competition includes software from fellow pure-play companies such as MobileIron and AirWatch.

Some industry analysts categorize them as mobile device management companies because their capabilities go wider than policy management to include overseeing operating system updates and provisioning.

However, two telecommunications consultants who offer some similar management capabilities as Trellia’s, say many Canadian companies aren’t looking for a software solution of any type.

“A lot of clients we work with say they don’t want to get into the learning curves [of applications],” said Kirk Glaze, president of Total Telecommunications Management Services (TTMS) of Kitchener, Ont. Instead, he said, they want mobile management completely in the hands of someone else. His company manages the mobile accounts of some 150 companies, and says his cost management services, combined with the portal-based policy management capabilities that carriers offer are enough for customers he deals with.

Similarly, Emily Nielsen of Nielsen IT Consulting of London, Ont., says her enterprise customers, some of whom have up to 800 mobile phones, don’t want mobile management apps.

On the other hand, IDC mobile enterprise analyst Stacy Crook noted in a recent report that demand for mobile device management apps is likely to rise with the increase in popularity of smart phones.

In an interview Crook added that demand will go up also because enterprises are increasingly allowing staff to bring their own mobile devices to work, thus increasing the number of operating systems they have to deal with.

While SMBs may lean towards outsourcing or cloud solutions, she said, enterprises will prefer on-premise software.

Among the bigger competitors enterprises may favor are Sybase Inc., Microsoft Corp. (for its Windows Phone and WinMobile devices), IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Symantec.
Mark Tauschek, research director at Info-Tech Research, also notes that wireless telecom expense management companies such as Tangoe, Rivermind, Invoice Insight and Mississauga, Ont.’s Avotus are in the mix.
Trellia “is in a tough, competitive market,” he said. There are some, he agreed, who want to completely outsource wireless management particularly because of the mix of handsets staff are bringing in.
What will be interesting, he said, is rumours are true that Research In Motion will make BES open to other operating systems. If so, that will cut into sales of other mobile management software companies.
Meanwhile Trellia recently expanded into the U.S., where rather than find a carrier partner it has allied with Sayers Group, a Chicago-area systems integrator.



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