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Apperian eyes mobile application security after Arxan acquisition

MAM provider Apperian looks to take advantage of a larger support staff and new mobile application security technology following its acquisition by Arxan.

Apperian plans to boost its mobile application management product with security technology from its new parent company.

Arxan Technologies, a mobile application security firm, in January bought Apperian, a stand-alone mobile application management (MAM) vendor. Apperian will continue to operate as a stand-alone company for the time being but use the support staff, technicians and other personnel from Arxan. In addition, Apperian will soon begin to integrate Arxan Technologies into its MAM product, the company said. 

Apperian first released its MAM technology in 2010, pioneering a new way to control and secure corporate data without enrolling users' smartphones and tablets in mobile device management (MDM) software. CEO Brian Day left the company when the deal closed, and chief marketing and products officer Mark Lorion took the helm as president and general manager.

Here, Lorion explains how and why the deal came about and what mobile application security enhancements are coming for customers.

What should Apperian customers expect from the acquisition?

Mark Lorion, Apperian Mark Lorion

Mark Lorion: A larger field organization with closer geographic proximity to our customers, so we're more responsive. This includes services people, technicians and support people. Now that we've trained up the Arxan support [team] ... my field organization increased by a magnitude of more than four times.

We are starting to integrate some of the Arxan security policies into the Apperian platform. Very soon admins will be able to apply a JavaScript protection policy. If you have a JavaScript-based app on your phone and ... protect it with the Arxan JavaScript protection policy, it would look like it was written in a foreign language. [An attacker] wouldn't be able to follow it.

Will Apperian and Arxan integrate more technologies in the future?

Lorion: They bring a deeper security portfolio, and we can start picking off some of those things and making them available for enterprise apps. And we are bringing to Arxan the management mechanism that they have not had before.

Apperian is a separate company in the short term, but what about the long term? What will be different?

We didn't want our customers to suffer.
Mark Lorionpresident and general manager, Apperian

Lorion: So many companies get acquired and smash together on day one, and then you lose everybody and you lose momentum. On the other hand, you've got another group of companies that get bought and they run independently forever, and you never really tap into any of the synergies. [Arxan CEO Joe Sander] and I promised each other and the board that we wouldn't let either one of those extremes happen. You've got to be deliberate. The field organization was the first place where we tried to blend the teams right out of the gate. We didn't want our customers to suffer.

Why did Apperian put itself up for sale, and why was Arxan the chosen buyer instead of an EMM vendor?

Lorion: I didn't think it was going to end in an acquisition. We were talking with a number of people in the security space about potential partnerships, and a number of them, Arxan included, began expressing interest in an acquisition.

The thing that we will not do with our platform is go into the MDM space. They're all commoditized for the most part, because what they can offer is governed by the MDM profile the operating system exposes. Some have bigger support organizations, but at the end of the day, the set of features you get from them are relatively similar.

What's important for me is getting security capabilities, because if I can offer more and more security around an app itself without forcing the device to come under management, that makes my platform more of a viable option.

Will MAM be an add-on feature or stand-alone product in the future?

Lorion: It is a component of an enterprise deployment. It will be forever. Different vendors may offer them in different flavors. That's when the category can get a little confusing with product names. There are a number of people who offer MAM, but MAM means different things. Some vendors talk about having MAM, but what they mean is they have an app store.

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