Enterprise IT departments wrestle with how much mobile power to put in the hands of employees. Those that empower their mobile workforce find many load the devices with personal apps and communications. Those that don't find their employees load their personal devices with business apps and access the network through side doors and back doors.
A mobile networking startup, Enterproid, is claiming to have a solution - Divide, a mobile platform that allows users to maintain two separate personal and professional profiles on a single device, which, for right now, is only available to Android users.
According to Enterproid's announcement of Divide:
- The professional profile on a Divide device has all the attributes companies have come to expect in an enterprise mobile platform, including deep security, access control, and a set of enterprise-grade versions of applications like email, a web browser, instant messaging, and SMS.
- The personal side is as open and as powerful as any other consumer device on the market, and is kept completely private to the user.
- Users can switch back and forth between their professional and personal profiles with a touch of a button, but no data can cross the division -- so no matter what happens on the personal side, nothing on the professional side can be compromised.
Divide employs a completely separate enterprise section on Android phones with e-mail, calendar, contacts, messaging and browser apps based on Android's tools, but with "business-class extensions," Andrew Toy, CEO and co-founder of Enterproid, told CIO's Nancy Gohring. All data on the enterprise side is encrypted.
User's can toggle between profiles and the enterprise section can be configured to require a password and to prohibit sharing information between the profiles.
Android is notable for already allowing users to create multiple user profiles, but Divide is an upgrade because of its management capabilities and the control it puts in the hands of the IT department, Gohring writes.
IT administrators can also set policies from a management console, including screen lock and password requirements and which applications are permitted in the corporate profile. They can also set a customized skin, or background, for the enterprise profile and prohibit downloading applications from the Android Market to that profile.
They can also set more sophisticated rules. For example, if an IT manager worries about potential security issues with a particular app, the manager can forbid the user from accessing any corporate data while that application is running.
Divide is a shot across the bow of BlackBerry, which drew a line in the sand to claim enterprise-grade management and security set it apart from the consumer devices and platforms creeping into corporate environments. CNET's Jessica Dolcourt says Enterproid's Divide comes close to giving Google's Android the right to make the same claim.
Besting BlackBerry-maker RIM's market claim of comprehensive security is Enterproid's ultimate goal for Android--and in the future, for Windows Phone 7, iPhone, and other iOS devices. Enterproid's CEO Andrew Toy told us that the company is working on its own version of BlackBerry Messenger, an instant chat app for free communications with any other BlackBerry user.... Chances are good that if Enterproid can sell Divide to companies with large, smartphone-toting workforces, or get it preloaded onto Android handsets, the arguments propping up BlackBerry's most prized and yet unmatched security niche will become increasingly more fragile.
The differentiator here is management and the policies that can be built around Divide. IT managers know network control is only as secure as the means by which it is used. The ability to toggle between easily and efficiently should encourage proper use of each environment and the ability to secure and police users on the corporate side could be an enterprise advantage.