The Power of Native: Launch of the AppConfig Community

Today we made an unprecedented announcement that will accelerate the adoption of transformative apps in the enterprise. MobileIron has joined forces with IBM, JAMF, and VMware to form the AppConfig Community. The mission of the AppConfig Community is to establish a common approach for enterprise app configuration and security based on OS-native standards in order to simplify app development and deployment. 

The birth of the modern enterprise app

April 3, 2010, the launch of the first iPad, signaled the birth of the modern enterprise app. Smartphones were already spreading through the enterprise, but their primary use case was still wireless email, not business apps. The iPad form factor opened the eyes of early adopters to the idea that apps running on a modern, touch-based operating system were not just “toys,” but could actually solve important business problems.

From 2010 to 2015, most enterprises started adopting iOS, deploying wireless email and the first generation of mobile business apps for document sharing, office productivity, and basic workflow. This allowed both developers and IT professionals to increase employee productivity and get up the learning curve as a new model of enterprise computing emerged.

But the full promise of mobile has always been business transformation, not just incremental efficiency. Transformation is difficult and time-consuming. It often requires the reengineering of core business processes to take advantage of ubiquitous computing. And the enabler of this transformation is the next generation of business apps. These apps will come from a broad selection of developers and ISVs, because business users demand best-of-breed experiences that a closed, single-vendor stack cannot provide.

This is why MobileIron, along with our fellow Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) providers, IBM, JAMF, and VMware, is working with Apple on a common approach for app configuration and security.

The role of the AppConfig Community

The AppConfig Community will provide tools, best practices, and community forums to help developers use OS-native configuration and security standards in a consistent manner across EMM providers. This will speed the development and adoption of business apps.  

At MobileIron, we believe native experience always wins in the end. Native is what users want, and our role is to enable that experience fully, while protecting enterprise data. Developers and IT should be focused on building and delivering great user experiences. EMM vendors and OS providers should be responsible for making app configuration and security consistent and reliable.

Using OS-native standards under EMM control expands the universe of secure apps available to the enterprise. The user can pick the best app for the task and speed the journey toward business transformation. 

The AppConfig Community enables choice, because it is app-neutral and EMM-neutral. CIOs can support the multi-vendor, best-of-breed app environment their users demand. 

The role of MobileIron AppConnect

MobileIron AppConnect is complementary to the AppConfig Community.

Historically, there was a gap between the security needs of the enterprise and the native security frameworks of modern operating systems. This is why we launched our MobileIron AppConnect program in 2012. Our AppConnect solution provided an SDK and app wrapper that developers could use to meet the security requirements of their customers.

Since then, Apple has expanded the native security frameworks embedded in iOS. Now, several functions no longer require EMM-specific SDK integration or app wrapping, for example:

  • Configuring apps through managed app config
  • Preventing data loss through managed open in
  • Connecting apps securely through per app VPN

However, many enterprises have additional security use cases, and so AppConnect continues to be an essential part of our app security solution. MobileIron AppConnect complements the AppConfig Community by filling the gap between what the OS does and what the enterprise needs. We work on an ongoing basis with Apple to narrow this gap. 

Launching our first developer tool: AppConfig XML schema

The AppConfig Community website has tools, best practices, and community forums for the enterprise developer. Over 60 ISVs have committed to leveraging the OS-native standards promoted by the Community.

The first developer tool released by the AppConfig Community is an open XML schema for use with the managed app config capability of iOS. The schema streamlines app deployment by making it easy for developers to define app configurations across all of their apps and for businesses to deploy them. Apps built using this new XML schema will work consistently across EMM providers in the AppConfig Community. 

Apple’s managed app config capability gives developers tremendous flexibility in configuring their apps using EMM. Using the new schema, they will be able to leverage this capability in a standardized way to give users a great out-of-the-box experience.

The value of OS-native standards

The single-vendor app stack is dead. Users demand best-of-breed experiences.

The AppConfig Community was founded on the belief that enterprise users should be able to choose the best apps for their jobs without sacrificing security or consistency. 

The use of OS-native standards with EMM simplifies the ability of:

  • Enterprises to adopt multi-vendor app portfolios
  • Developers to support multiple EMM solutions
  • EMM vendors to secure a broad universe of business apps

The true value of mobile is business transformation through apps. And the true value of OS-native standards and the AppConfig Community is faster development and deployment of these transformative apps for the enterprise.

Ojas Rege

Chief Strategy Officer

About the author

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Ojas Rege's perspective on enterprise mobility has been covered by Bloomberg, CIO Magazine, Financial Times, Forbes, and Reuters. He coined the term “Mobile First” on TechCrunch in 2007, one week after the launch of the first iPhone, to represent a new model of personal and business computing. He is co-inventor on six mobility patents, including the enterprise app store and BYOD privacy. Ojas is also a Fellow of the Ponemon Institute for information security policy. Ojas has a BS/MS in Computer Engineering from M.I.T. and an MBA from Stanford. Ojas is also Board Chair for Pact, a non-profit in Oakland, California that provides adoption services for children of color and their parents.