SAP to offer containment software for smartphone and tablet security

SAP's concept similar to BlackBerry Balance but for Android, iOS and Windows 8

Enterprise software maker, SAP, plans to ship software in three to six months that separates business data from personal information on a user's smartphone or tablet to improve security, the head of SAP's mobility unit said.

Such software for separating the two classes of data, commonly called containerization, is offered by a number of mobile device management vendors as a tool to help control security as more consumer devices are used in workplaces as part of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend.

Research In Motion is also providing containerization within its upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system, although RIM's technology is separate from SAP's initiative. RIM calls its approach BlackBerry Balance, with the intent to prevent a user's apps from accessing work information, and so work information can't be copied or pasted into personal apps or email messages.

An IT manager can use a container approach to guard sensitive corporate data on a smartphone or tablet, so that if the device is purchased by a worker, the IT manager can delete all corporate data without affecting the personal data in the event the worker leaves the company.

SAP is building software similar to Balance that will also work on other platforms, including Android, iOS and Windows 8, said Sanjay Poonen, president of global solutions and head of mobility for SAP in an interview with Computerworld at the CTIA MobileCon trade show here.

SAP's software will be called Mobile Application Management and will likely be provided as an addition to SAP's Afaria mobile management software, Poonen said. While SAP's approach is being designed internally to work on all three non-BlackBerry platforms, it might also rely on software from third-party vendors offering containerization, Poonen said.

He said Afaria customers will hear more about the SAP product and related mobile device management tools at upcoming conferences in November, either Sapphire Now or SAP Tech ED, both being held in Madrid, Spain, Nov. 13-16. Poonen also blogged this week on some of SAP's plans. Poonen said that BlackBerry Balance holds promise for many organizations, especially those in regulated industries such as securities and banking.

"We will partner with RIM on [Balance], but that won't run on other platforms," Poonen said. "We have no issues with Balance. The security challenge just isn't BlackBerry alone."

Poonen said the containerization feature from SAP might not add to the cost of Afaria, without offering specifics. "Stay tuned," he said.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile device management in Computerworld's Mobile Device Management Topic Center.

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