Top 3 Issues for the Enterprise Android App Store

I wrote about Google’s first steps toward providing an Android app store for enterprises last week. Yesterday, a random tweet highlighting the post triggered a multi-hour Twitter discussion about the suitability of Android for enterprises and some specific issues for the enterprise Android app store.This topic is particularly important as mobile usage rises and tablets start to replace and augment desktops for a certain class of corporate user.

Simon Crosby, co-founder and CTO of Bromium, a security startup, kicked things off in typical (inflammatory) style:

Mark Thiele responded:

Brian Katz, the head of mobility engineering for a large pharma company, commented on Simon’s original tweet, and I suggested that leveraging scalable infrastructure was a good thing:

Things went pear-shaped quickly thereafter with multiple criticisms being thrown out. The summary of concerns is:

  1. Security — Simon thinks Android security is severely lacking, to the point that he said he thinks Windows is a more secure platform. This wasn’t so much a criticism of the enterprise Android app store as it was a criticism of the platform itself. Essentially, an enterprise should worry about enterprise apps accessing secure data sitting next to insecure consumer apps on the same device. Simon provided an interesting interview with Georgie Weidman that surfaces the issues.
  2. Control — Brian went on to say that he wouldn’t use something like the current enterprise Android app store features because of control issues. The current features offered by Google are a start, but they don’t provide the hardcore features offered by other enterprise mobility management (EMM) products. In a subsequent conversation, Brian specifically mentioned the ability to delete all enterprise apps and data when the EMM solution detects a device has been “rooted” or otherwise lost, suspected compromised, etc. Brian currently uses other EMM solutions with these features to provide an enterprise app store for multiple platforms (iOS, Android, etc.).
  3. Ownership — Brian was also concerned with ownership of the bits that make up the app once you upload it to Google. At that point, you’ve given Google some control over the app. Are you comfortable with that? Most of the time, I think the mobile app itself will be pretty mundane, just UI code that retrieves data from a secure source  behind the firewall and splats it to the mobile device screen for display and limited interaction. I would not expect the mobile app to have much “interesting” code that contains proprietary algorithms or such.

What are your thoughts about Android as an enterprise mobile platform and the new Google enterprise app store features? Post a comment and let us know.

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