Photo: Associated Press
Yesterday, Google took another small step into the enterprise: Google Apps can now be used to manage Android phones.When employees buy a new phone, they focus on things like design, apps, and wireless coverage. But the preventers in corporate IT have their own concerns–they want to be sure that lost phones don’t open a door to corporate e-mail and other data. Features like strict password requirements, automatic locking of idle phones, and the nuclear “remote wipe” option which eliminates all data on a stray phone, are standard requests.
Research In Motion and Microsoft have made this kind of manageability a priority for years, and there are plenty of third-party products from security vendors like McAfee and networking companies like Juniper that do the same for a wide variety of handsets. But it’s a lot easier for administrators if they can manage mobile handsets from the e-mail system that users are accessing. (That’s how Microsoft’s Exchange Server works.)
Google is hoping to turn Apps into a serious revenue-generating business, and mobile access is an obvious selling point. To please IT managers, Google Apps integrates with BlackBerry’s management tools, and it’s let companies manage iPhones, Nokia smartphones, and even Windows Mobile phones since February. But weirdly, it didn’t have support for managing Android devices.
With that gap closed, Google can now make the sales pitch for Apps without the embarrassing admission that it can’t manage its own smartphone platform.