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Apple is taking a whole new approach to getting secured iOS apps into enterprises.
One year after showing commitment to enterprise customers with its IBM mobile apps partnership, Apple has partnered with two major enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors to deploy mobile apps for business.
VMware will roll out new iOS app configuration templates for the enterprise over the course of 2015. "Single touch" apps for specific verticals including healthcare, education and airlines will be part of the initiative through VMware's EMM platform, AirWatch.
These configuration templates don't yet have a name, and VMware didn't release much information when it also introduced its Identity Manager this week.
Related to this is VMware's App Configuration for Enterprise (ACE) initiative, a standard approach to deploy and secure iOS and Android mobile apps for business without software developers' kits or app wrapping. Dropbox, Box, DocuSign and MicroStrategy are among the over two dozen apps included in ACE.
One of VMware's top EMM competitors, MobileIron Inc., recently introduced MobileIron OneTouch, a platform to deploy and secure enterprise iOS apps "out of the box," the company said.
With OneTouch, MobileIron customers can deploy and secure apps as a bundle instead of individually. App configuration, authentication and provisioning are automated by the OneTouch platform.
MobileIron is working with more than two dozen independent software vendors (ISVs) on OneTouch, including Box, DocuSign, MicroStrategy and ProntoForms. The company hasn't said when OneTouch will be available.
Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at these enterprise partnerships during Apple's Q2 2015 earnings call in April, when he said Apple was working with several of the above ISVs to bring a broad range of mobile products to more customers, specifically on iPads.
Apple's partnerships with two of the most prominent EMM vendors could be a response to Google's Android for Work enterprise app framework, industry watchers said. Android for Work is based on work profiles for devices running Android Lollipop. AirWatch, MobileIron, Citrix's XenMobile and BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12 are among the EMM products that can build management technologies on top of Android for Work.
"There is a little competitive positioning on Apple here because they see Google charging hard," said Chris Hazelton, research director for enterprise mobility at 451 Research in New York. "It's more about maintaining [enterprise market] share than expanding it."
Apple's new EMM partnerships could also be a precursor to a true "enterprise app store" within Apple's App Store, Hazelton said. Apple could allow any app in the store to be managed, expanding mobile application management reach into public apps, he said.
"There's a business list now, but any developer can put something in there and it's hard to find what you need [as a business]," Hazelton said.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
Apple-EMM deals offer new avenue for old apps
While IBM and Apple promised 100 enterprise iOS apps for specific vertical industries to much fanfare last year, fewer than 25 have been released.
Apple's new approach has much broader appeal to organizations, said Maribel Lopez, mobile analyst and founder of Lopez Research in San Francisco. While the custom IBM/Apple apps are tailored to industries such as financial, governmental and travel, these EMM-secured iOS apps should work for any company, she said.
Maribel Lopezfounder, Lopez Research
"This gives you something right out of the gate if you don't have any custom apps," she said. "The world needs easier ways to get started going mobile securely, and this is how you do it."
Easier access to enterprise mobile apps could start to become a serious concern to IT and users alike. By the end of 2017, market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than IT's ability to deliver them, according to Gartner Inc., a research firm in Stamford, Conn.
It's unclear if other EMM vendors will launch similar iOS initiatives to those of AirWatch and MobileIron.
EMM vendor Good Technology Inc. did not address whether it will have such an initiative, but a spokesperson said it has been "supporting secured iOS apps with the Good Dynamics Secure Mobility Platform for years" and more than 1,900 apps across iOS, Android and Windows have been brought to market within the Good container.
Citrix did not respond to a request for comment on whether XenMobile will be part of a future iOS initiative.