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Pulse Secure puts VPN, MAM in harmony for mobile security

Will IT bite at a new EMM option that combines secure VPN and MAM for mobile security?

When it comes to securing sensitive data on mobile devices and in transit, IT may have a new option that brings VPNs and endpoint management together.

Pulse Secure, a San Jose, Calif., vendor with Juniper Networks roots, combines the virtual private network (VPN) and network access control gateway capabilities of Junos Pulse with newly acquired mobile application management (MAM) from MobileSpaces. The combination could give IT a unique security option unlike anything else on the market, analysts said.

"Mobile security is mostly centered on the device and the applications, but there's also a play to be had around securing the network," said Jack Gold, analyst and principal at J. Gold Associates LLC in Northborough, Mass.

Juniper Networks Inc. sold off Junos Pulse to private equity firm Siris Capital Group LLC for $250 million in July. Pulse Secure Ltd., the resulting new company, last week acquired MobileSpaces, a Silver Spring, Md. vendor specializing in dual-persona application security and an up-and-comer in the MAM market.

MobileSpaces virtualizes an application and creates separate personal and enterprise versions that exist on the same device. It's a different spin on dual-persona management for bring your own device (BYOD) and corporate-owned devices, utilizing a proprietary function specifically for virtualizing Google Android applications.

It uses Apple iOS's mobile device management framework for MAM on iOS devices. It's difficult for any company that does MAM to be differentiated on Apple's iOS because its APIs aren't as open as Android, said Chris Hazelton, research director for mobile and wireless at 451 Research LLC, based in New York City.

Pulse Secure could work for organizations that want a mobile security option that starts from the network and moves in towards the device, said Gold.

"It makes sense especially if you already have [Pulse Secure's] VPN installed," Gold said.

The combination of what Pulse Secure offers on data in transit through its secure sockets layer VPN, network access control and role-based access policies products, and MobileSpaces' focus of securing data on the device was a natural fit, Hazelton said.

Vendors in the enterprise mobility management (EMM) market offer connectivity products, like VMware and Citrix, with their Mobile Access Gateway and Citrix NetScaler offerings. But the combination of Pulse Secure's VPN and MobileSpaces' ability to manage virtualized Android in apps in particular makes it a differentiator, Hazelton said.

"Pulse Secure will define its future on Android, rather than a few other EMM vendors that do MAM but will probably have to more heavily leverage the native capabilities of Android," he said.

IT's struggle to virtualize apps

Users and buyers need to be sure the experience is similar enough to native.
Chris Hazeltonresearch director for mobile and wireless, 451 Research

Virtualizing corporate-hosted applications can also present challenges for IT. Scaling to large numbers of users won't be an issue, but if the virtualized app's user experience isn't comparable to that of the native app, workers won't accept it, Hazelton said.

The MobileSpaces approach is more about creating a sandbox where the enterprise version of an application can exist without changing the application itself, Gold said.

"That makes it easier and more straightforward to manage," he said.

Pulse Secure's CEO will be Andy Monshaw, a 30-year IBM veteran who was most recently with Siris Capital. MobileSpaces CEO David Goldschlag will become vice president of strategy for Pulse Secure.

Part of the market is looking to take its existing secure remote access network and attach it to mobile devices, Goldschlag said.

Pulse Secure will look to add support for more endpoints, including Windows smartphones and tablets, and for employee-owned Macs and PCs (on top of existing support for corporate-owned desktops). It also plans to deliver unified, cloud-based policies service for all endpoints, Goldschlag said.

Existing customers of Pulse Secure and MobileSpaces should expect no change in their service aside from some rebranding, the company said. MobileSpaces customers can elect not to utilize the Pulse Secure VPN if they choose, Goldschlag said. 

List pricing for the Pulse Workspace, which combines Pulse Secure’s VPN and the MobileSpaces Workspace, is $60 per user per year and is available immediately. 

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Would you consider connecting your mobile devices through your company's VPN?
No, I never use it on my mobile.

I wouldn't mind, but they'd probably rake me over the coals, ha! Using a personal device to connect to the company's VPN means practically signing your life away, here. You've got to agree that the company has a right to anything on your device, and if you leave the company, you must allow them to wipe it completely clean. I guess that it's because they haven't really got a good solution for security on personal devices in place.