SAP to offer containment software for smartphone and tablet security

SAP's concept similar to BlackBerry Balance but for Android, iOS and Windows 8

SAN DIEGO -- In three to six months, SAP plans to ship software designed to separate business data from users' personal information on smartphones and tablets, the head of the enterprise software maker's mobility unit said on Wednesday.

Software for separating the two classes of data -- a process commonly called containerization -- is offered by a number of vendors of mobile device management systems as a means of tightening security at a time when more and more people are using their personal devices on the job as part of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement.

In a separate effort, Research In Motion also plans to provide containerization capability in its upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system. To be known as BlackBerry Balance, RIM's containerization offering will be designed to prevent a user's apps from accessing work information, so it won't be possible to copy and paste work information into personal apps or email messages.

An IT manager can use a container approach to guard sensitive corporate data on smartphones or tablets. With a containerized setup, it's easy for IT to, for example, delete corporate data from a former employee's personal device without affecting the individual's personal data.

SAP is building software similar to Blackberry Balance that will also work on other platforms, including Android, iOS and Windows 8, said Sanjay Poonen, president of global solutions and head of mobility for SAP, in an interview with Computerworld at the CTIA MobileCon trade show here.

SAP's software will be called Mobile Application Management and will likely be provided as an addition to SAP's Afaria mobile management system, Poonen said. While SAP's tool is being designed internally, the vendor might also incorporate functionality from containerization software offered by third-party vendors, Poonen said.

He said Afaria customers will hear more about the SAP product and related mobile device management tools at upcoming conferences in November, either Sapphire Now or SAP Tech ED, both of which will take place Nov. 13-16 in Madrid, Spain. Poonen also blogged about some of SAP's plans this week. Poonen said that BlackBerry Balance could prove useful to many types of organizations, especially those in regulated industries such as securities and banking.

"We will partner with RIM on [Balance], but that won't run on other platforms," Poonen said. "We have no issues with Balance. The security challenge just isn't BlackBerry alone."

Poonen said the containerization feature from SAP might not add to the cost of Afaria -- though he didn't offer further details. "Stay tuned," he said.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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