"Compared to Airwatch and XenMobile, the MobileIron platform was the clear leader when it came to Android compatibility."Karsten van Bergerem, Department manager IT operations, TX Logistik
For many years, the railway logistics company TX Logistik AG ran its mobile IT on BlackBerry. But the introduction of BlackBerry's BES10 platform led it to switch to Samsung Knox and a multi-OS platform provided by MobileIron, renowned for its Android know-how.
In logistics, it's all about mobility. For TX Logistik, a pan-European company based in Bad Honnef, Germany, mobile IT has long been a high priority. In 2005, locomotive engineers and wagon technicians were equipped with BlackBerry mobile devices to exchange secure emails. In 2008/09, the company developed and launched an app to administer the shift schedules of nearly 150 railroad engineers on the central BlackBerry management server (BES5), explains Karsten van Bergerem, department manager IT operations.
In 2013, the company had to switch course: “To keep pace with its competitors, BlackBerry released a completely new management system, BES10, and we would have needed to rewrite our app to run on it. We took this as an opportunity to consider alternatives to BlackBerry, especially since they were going through some very rough times financially, and it wasn’t even certain whether they would survive in the long run. As a pan-European logistics company, we simply can’t afford any instabilities in our IT, especially not our mobile IT.”
Original BlackBerry features lose their significance
Together with its longtime partner, Bonn-based ORBIT Gesellschaft für Applikations - und Informationssysteme mbH, TX Logistik started looking for alternatives to its BlackBerry systems under BES5. It was definitely not going to use BES10, says van Bergerem. "Mobile IT has changed significantly since 2010. Many original BlackBerry features like the proprietary email push protocol, the specific network operation center and the mobile data service ceased to be of much use when developments like the ActiveSync Push Protocol, highly improved cellular networks and app-specific VPN solutions came up. More attractive alternatives have become available."
Van Bergerem points out that mobile operating systems like Android and iOS are inherently user friendly because they were developed for consumers, but they are also highly suitable for businesses. Android is particularly attractive due to developments like Samsung Knox and MobileIron for Android, and TX Logistik chose Samsung because of SAFE-API and the high level of security offered by Samsung Knox.
MobileIron was the clear leader and not just because of its Android know-how
Next, Van Bergerem’s ad-hoc mobile IT team started looking for the best enterprise mobility management (EMM) system. They considered Matrix24 (Airwatch), Zenprise (now Citrix XenMobile) and MobileIron, and after a six-week evaluation period, MobileIron became the platform of choice because of its Android compatibility; other EMM systems were very focused on iOS/iPhone devices.
MobileIron was a good fit with several operating systems, but especially Android, and has long included encryption solutions. At a later stage, AppConnect containerizing technology made apps more secure on Android, and now the close integration with Samsung Knox covers virtually all areas of mobile technology – from email and personal information management to document, browser and app security – in one cordon. The order processing app for service providers and TX Logistik personnel, designed by Catkin GmbH which is managed by the MobileIron platform and Samsung Knox also delivered everything that TX Logistik was looking for.
"These features become even more important when the devices are used privately," says Van Bergerem. “TX Logistik uses only company devices, but these may be used for personal purposes in certain circumstances. And security is not the only part we liked about MobileIron."
The team also appreciated MobileIron’s easy-to-understand management console, simple, delegated administration, scalability, and overall look and feel. Another useful feature was support for remote access to mobile devices, providing administrators with valuable insight into how individual employees use their devices.
"Users' experiences help us to improve the support we provide,” Van Bergerem says. “Right now we're still using TeamViewer, but the new Help@Work feature is also very attractive."