One of the most significant announcements to come out of this years Mobile World Congress is the collaboration of some of the top enterprise mobility management providers into a community called AppConfig. This community made up of AirWatch, IBM MaaS360, JAMF and MobileIron serves enterprises and enterprise app developers in order to establish a common approach for enterprise app configuration and security based on OS native standards.
This essentially means that these companies want to work together to make a standardized version of enterprise app configuration, operation and maintenance. They will be doing this by using the enterprise capabilities and frameworks already built into the OS. They are making one type of mobile app management (MAM) and sticking to it. This is great for both the EMM industry and enterprises who implement EMM solutions because the AppConfig community will teach developers how to use the MAM features that are already available and give them all a common ground to stand on so they can work on developing better enterprise apps.
If this sounds a bit familiar to you, you’re not far off. Last year at Mobile World Congress AirWatch announced the formation of their group ACE (App Configuration for Enterprise) which had very similar goals, but was run just by AirWatch. AppConfig is owned and run by all the vendors mentioned above and all previous members of ACE are all now members of AppConfig.
“The AppConfig Community will educate developers on best practices to take advantage of these MAM features, says Jack Madden. “The idea is to help developers avoid proprietary MAM SDKs or app wrapping tools, and that apps built to the AppConfig Community guidelines will be more attractive to the enterprise. Right now the AppConfig Community is focusing on iOS, with Android and Windows 10 coming next. (You can still read about Android features on the old ACE website, though.)”
“The AppConfig Community addresses a critical need that will allow developers to streamline their integration with EMMs, and will help offer customers a more consistent experience across mobile apps,” says Mimi Spier, senior director of marketing and strategy, Business Mobility and IoT at VMware. “With standards and best practices for business apps that work across EMMs, we believe AppConfig Community will help organizations simplify mobile and ultimately innovate through new business transformation.”
AppConfig Community best practices are supported by Apple’s mobility partners. More than 60 companies have committed to AppConfig Community tools and best practices, including leading software vendors Box, Cisco, Oracle, Salesforce and Workday.
The AppConfig Community also announced an open XML schema for iOS enterprise app configurations. The schema streamlines app deployment by making it easy for developers to define app configurations across all of their apps and for businesses to consistently deploy these app configurations. Apps built using native frameworks in iOS and this new AppConfig XML schema will work consistently across participating EMM providers. The AppConfig Community also provides best practices for enterprise developers based on OS-native features such as single sign-on, per-app VPN, security policies and access controls.