MWC 2015: New ACE Standard Agreed For Enterprise Apps

A number of technology firms have agreed a new open standard to simplify the development of business-oriented apps.

Known as the ACE (App Configuration for Enterprise) standard, it was agreed and launched by AirWatch, Box, Cisco, Workday and Xamarin at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.

Automated Setup

So what is the ACE standard all about then? In a nutshell it seeks to tackle the common security and usability challenges that businesses typically face when deploying apps.

Indeed, the consortium says it seeks to standardise how apps are ‘configured, secured and containerised with enterprise mobility management solutions.’

First up it looks to automate the user setup process. Indeed, ACE is designed to make the end-user experience of logging into an enterprise app just as simple as logging into a consumer application.

At the moment, when a user logs into a social networking account such as Facebook or LinkedIn, everything (email, preferences etc) tends to be automatically setup and configured for them. The ACE standard likewise will require very little user input when using an enterprise app for the first time. The automated setup will simply select the most suitable social network or back-end enterprise system in order to login into the new app.

“With ACE the best network is already selected and you just click the app and your enterprise credentials and configurations are already set up and you’re in the app,” said the consortium. There is also no need for separate user login requirements for each app, as the standard also covers single sign-on.

Besides automating the first-time setup experience for the end user, the ACE standard also looks to the security side, by securing app connectivity to corporate networks with a per-app tunnel. It also only allows access to native apps on secure, compliant devices with access control.

Additionally, there are a set of security policies including open in and copy/paste controls, to help eliminate the risk of data leaks. And corporate data can be wiped remotely from lost or stolen devices.

“By providing standardised app configurations and policies that will interoperate with all EMM solutions, ACE is the first solution of its kind, providing a new approach to securing apps with EMM-specific solutions,” said the consortium. “ACE leverages the latest APIs available through leading operating system platforms such as Apple iOS and Google Android, and it provides a framework that requires minimal effort for both app developers and EMM platforms to integrate, while maintaining a positive end user experience.”

“Enterprise-ready app development has traditionally been fragmented, and ACE is the first industry-wide solution that can alleviate this problem regardless of application or EMM provider,” said Eric Klein, senior mobility analyst at VDC Research. “Applications are what make mobility programs successful, and ACE is a strong step forward in enabling even more organisations with the updated, enterprise-ready apps they need regardless of their deployment structure.”

For the developer community, ACE is being touted as a way to reduce cost and time to build enterprise ready applications. ACE benefits include no proprietary SDK or app wrapping, vendor neutral applications, a single app build for enterprises and no coding required for certain security settings.

“ACE enables us to work with the leading brands in mobile to deliver better experiences for our customers,” said John Marshall, senior VP and general manager, AirWatch by VMware. “With ACE, organisations benefit from seamless and secure application delivery to their workforce and end users benefit from a more initiative business app experience.”

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

View Comments

  • Very interesting and informative article! The launch of ACE will certainly help enterprise mobile app developers save a lot of time by avoiding unnecessary coding and will give a boost to the enterprise app development industry too. It would also encourage enterprises to get apps built as ACE reduces the time and cost needed to build enterprise apps.

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