The consumerization of IT has changed the way the enterprise functions. With more employees bringing their own smartphones and tablets to work, the rise of mobile device management (MDM) services has proliferated to the point that IT departments do not know which one best fits their needs or is different from any other on the market. One startup is taking a different approach. Instead of tackling the problem from the outside-in, it is looking at device functionality from inside-out, through apps.
App47 does not do MDM. Its approach is mobile application management (MAM). It dives straight into the functionality of how employees interact with their devices from an application-side perspective, providing security, management and analytics. App47 is unique in the marketplace and looks like the natural progression of mobile management in the enterprise.
App47 CEO and co-founder Chris Schroeder has nearly two decades in enterprise application management. He worked at UUNet before starting RealOps, which was sold to BMC Software in 2007. He and his co-founder, Sean McDermott looked to get into the consumer mobile space before starting App47 and realized that it was a whole different world with a different set of problems (customer acquisition being prime among them). So, they turned back to enterprise mobility and found that application management was lacking in the new era of smartphones in the workplace.
The MAM approach looks at employee's work applications from a life-cycle perspective.
"We are facilitating the app store experience," Schroeder said in an interview with ReadWriteWeb. "We do not use MDM protocols but we do work with the MDM services. We focus on user interface in terms of how its applications are obtained and maintained."
App47 helps enterprises set up self-service application marketplaces. The types of applications they have seen thus far range from point of sale management, inventory management, internal processing and demonstration apps and more. For instance, an airline would like to move its functions off of dedicated hardware and move to a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) smartphone solution with Android and iOS. App47 then helps manage and analyze the performance of the employees and applications being used on those devices.
Application management is done through the cloud. App47 uses Heroku and MongoHQ for its cloud infrastructure and its code is written using Ruby on Rails.
"We use an inside-out approach," Schroeder said. "We are inside the application. We can provide a more fine-grained view of the application than an MDM could have."
App47 has been in beta since January. It has a variety of clients, but at this point in the company's life cycle it is looking for its first paying customer.