The firm that entered our lives as "The Document Company" must reinvent itself again if it is to thrive in a world where paper is used less and less as the agent of transferring information. Taking a cue yesterday from Research In Motion, which last November set up a safety net for itself as a mobile document device management (MDM) company, Xerox is now headed the same direction.

Now, the former "Document Company" has announced it's setting itself up as a managed service provider for SMBs and enterprises to provision secure mobile devices, effectively reselling an MDM platform from Boxtone. If you think you're experiencing déjà vu, there may be a less-than-supernatural reason: Verizon has entered into a similar agreement with Boxtone, for similar services, on the exact same day.

Boxtone's MDM platform is geared around a policy management tool that extends the policy framework of Active Directory. The goal is to enable employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) into the workplace, including Android and iOS, and enable them to be provisioned, enrolled into the network, and secured. This places Boxtone in direct contention with Centrify, which last week announced a similar BYOD platform using Active Directory, available to some customers for free.

Xerox's ACS division will be offering Boxtone MDM service on its own cloud, with what it promises to be competitive fees, calculated per-device. ("Free" will be difficult to compete against, but we'll see how Xerox manages the quality issue.) Administrators will assign mobile policies to existing employees in AD, and will then be able to provision devices over-the-air. A white paper released by ACS yesterday (PDF available here) states the provisioning tool will work with iOS, Android, Windows Mobile (other sources list Windows Phone), and BlackBerry OS devices.

Boxtone's MDM monitoring dashboard [shown: Boxtone branding]


Boxtone's compliance management tool offers end-to-end compliance monitoring, with automated alerting of IT to potential violations, and background auditing and reporting.

According to ACS, Apple iOS users will need to acquire what's called an Apple Push Notification Service (APNs) certificate separately. It's an SSL certificate required for the signing of secured transactions, including e-mail - and with the Apple ecosystem, there's only one way to get it. Luckily someone outside of Apple thought it might be a good idea to document this process (PDF available here).

Xerox closed its acquisition of ACS in February 2010.

In the wake of its recent release of all new Droid devices including Droid 4 with a revised QWERTY keyboard, the thinner Droid RAZR, and the new Xyboard tablet, Verizon Wireless announced yesterday it will also be reselling Boxtone MDM tools to enterprise customers. For now, VZW will be concentrating on the healthcare segment, in hopes that health providers moving off the BlackBerry platform will consider Droid.