Google announced a mobile management

Posted by Zotta Rendevouz

Google yesterday announced a mobile management tool for its Google Apps cloud suite that not only lets IT manage Android devices but also BlackBerry, Apple iOS, and Windows Mobile ones, too. That's a big deal coming from a provider of a mobile OS -- Android -- whose native security and management capabilities are poor. As Google pushes for businesses and governments to get rid of Microsoft Exchange and Office in favor of the cloud-hosted Google Apps, it needs to take mobile management and security seriously, given how prevalent mobile access has become.
But what Google is actually doing is repackaging existing technology -- ironically, the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol (EAS) that already lets corporate Gmail manage EAS-savvy devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and Windows Mobile devices. Oh, and some Android 2.2 devices, if they have EAS-savvy clients such as NitroDesk's Touchdown or Motorola's Corporate Email app installed. (Gmail also uses such a client on BlackBerry devices, rather than work through Research in Motion's BlackBerry Enterprise Server.)

The EAS-savvy client problem still exists in Android in the sense that it's not available out of the box on every device, as is the case with iOS, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7, and corporate-oriented Nokia Symbian devices. Google's fix is to have a downloadable client app, the Google Apps Device Policy app, that gives something for EAS to work through.
It's a good first step, but no different than what mobile device management tools such as those from Good Technology and MobileIron already do. The only difference is that if you use corporate Google Apps, you now can manage these policies directly from Google Apps. It also means you have one fewer reason to be tied to a physical server, which Good and MobileIron require.
What Google really needs to do, of course, is what its main competitors -- Apple, Microsoft, and RIM -- have already done: Bake security and management into the OS itself. Until then, all these clients are just patches -- welcome patches, but still just patches.