Good Technology CTO Nicko van Someren says BlackBerry can’t match its data-centric approach to MDM
Businesses cannot risk basing their entire mobility strategy on one, beleaguered, supplier and should prepare for a post-BlackBerry world, says Good Technology CTO Nicko van Someren, who hopes to capitalise on the Canadian phone maker’s misfortune.
Speaking to TechWeekEurope, van Someren claims Good’s products are better suited to a cross-platform BYOD environment and describes continuing to use BlackBerry as “risky.”
“From an enterprise standpoint, a lot of enterprises are just uncomfortable with predicating their entire mobility strategy from a company that appears to be on a downward trajectory,” he says.
No weak links
Good is one of a number of vultures circling BlackBerry with a replacement for BlackBerry’s software and service offerings, but van Someron says Good’s product is actually superior because it manages data, not devices, on Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
Van Someren acknowledges there will always be a need to manage corporate smartphones and tablets, but says IT departments have no right to remotely wipe the personal data or limit functionality on a personal device.
However admins must be able to control the flow of information across a range of applications, such as email, office suites and in-house software, with a consistent policy that ensures there are no weak links that can see corporate information leak to Facebook or Twitter.
Mobile data management
“Historically, there’s been a bunch of companies trying to sell what they call mobile device management (MDM), and I’ve always said the problem with most MDM vendors is that they have the wrong ‘D’. We need to think about mobile data management.
“BlackBerry have produced excellent products for getting email, calendar and scheduling meetings, but if I get an email that has an attachment, I want to open that attachment, edit it and take the data from it and put it into a custom app, generate a PDF report, edit the PDF and maybe capture a physical signature from a customer on that PDF.
“The tools that people are building to do that sort of stuff are not being built on BlackBerry, they’re being built on iOS and Android. It’s absolutely vital to do this in a cross-platform way.”
Cross platform approach
This data-centric approach across a number of platforms is Good’s main selling point, but is it that much better than BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10), which has the ability to separate personal and corporate data on Android and iOS devices through Secure Work Space? Van Someren concedes that there are some similarities but denies its great rival is offering the same thing.
“It does device management, it doesn’t do data management,” he declares resolutely. “There are many similarities in the capabilities of our products and some of BlackBerry’s. This isn’t terribly surprising given they actually license some of our patents. They use technology that is quite similar to ours in many respects. What we do is let people to do it on the devices they actually want to use – iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
“[BES 10] solves some pieces of the puzzle, but I think it’s fair to say we are currently the only people who can offer a cohesive solution that doesn’t just cover device management and some sort of transport security, but also provides framework to build applications”
“You need to have a whole ecosystem of applications working in conjunction. Over a thousand apps have already been written on the Good Dynamics platform. They cover the whole range of the enterprise app space, so we’ve got a lot of traction across the key players”
But with BlackBerry turning its attention to the enterprise as a way of emerging from its current malaise, is van Someren not worried it could dedicate more resources to its management offerings?
“They’ve had a very limited mindset in terms of where they’ve developed their technology in the past and we’ve yet to see evidence they are expanding this out to be more supportive of a much more open ecosystem.”
“They lag a very long way behind what we have because we’ve been doing it on those devices for an awful lot longer than they have.
“We are a long way ahead. We have a lot of key intellectual property we’ve developed over the years. That’s given us a significant head start but could someone follow in our footsteps? Sure. We have competition coming along all the time. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
Another company looking to increase its share of the enterprise market is Samsung, which has told TechWeekEurope it plans a major push next year centred on Knox MDM platform. Samsung says that because Knox is hardware-based, it offers more protection than application level rivals, but van Someren says it is not a threat because Good is actually working with Samsung and other manufacturers.
“We’ve been working very closely with them for well over a year now to develop high-security storage and authentication capabilities as well as more innovative things down the line to run on that hardware platform.”
“That TrustZone capability is not just a Samsung-specific capability, it’s in HTC handsets and a number other handsets that are coming along. We know it’s in the next generation of Sony mobiles and we absolutely have intention to make use of that sort of technology.”
“We’re very excited with what’s happening with TrustZone and we are looking forward to it being on more handsets. This is absolutely not a threat, it’s an opportunity that we relish.”
BlackBerry has had a bumpy year! Try our 2013 BlackBerry quiz!