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Aruba battles BlackBerry to protect biz from staffers' nasty iPhone apps

This time with network support too

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Aruba Networks has joined the mobile container fray with WorkSpace, providing enterprises with a secure BYOD platform which can be distributed to untrusted devices - and taking on BlackBerry and Samsung in the process.

Aruba's container integrates with its existing authentication system, ClearPass, and can make use of the company's priority-by-app Wi-Fi technology, allowing geographical and network restrictions as well as the usual remote management and data security, which keeps the corporate BOFH away from personal stuff - as well as the reverse.

Containers are all the rage these days, with Samsung KNOX taking on BlackBerry's Secure Work Spaces to push the idea of creating schizophrenic devices capable of running highly secured corporate apps alongside - but separated from - Temple Run, Tweetbot and Facebook.

Aruba argues that its network integration increases the security level, automatically creating VPNs when connected to an untrusted network (such as a mobile operator's infrastructure) and with the ability to restrict applications by network connection so they'll only run, or refuse to run, within a specific location.

That functionality is limited by the platform obviously; Apple won't let Workspace shut down the iPhone camera when one enters a sensitive area, and to make use of the secured networking application developers will have to adopt Aruba's WorkSpace API, available from newly launched WorkSpace Partner Programme. That kicked off yesterday, with 40 members including Box, SugarSync and IM Sametime (though the latter only though Xime).

None of the containers on offer is half as slick as BlackBerry's Balance, which (for example) has separate calendars for work and home but knows appointments shouldn't overlap, but Balance only works on BlackBerry's latest devices and the company's other platform offering isn't nearly as elegant.

Samsung will, no doubt, claim its KNOX platform is more secure. Samsung reckons you can't layer security on top of software, so its container is restricted to the Galaxy S4 and Note 10.1, which have the requisite hardware embedded. There's a lot of truth to that argument, though enterprises will have to decide when something is "secure enough", and employee use of iPhones is an irreversible end.

Containers themselves aren't even a trend yet, but the arguments in favour are compelling: being able to distribute a software container to personal, or departmental, devices makes for much easier administration, and Aruba's entry signals growing acceptance of the idea. What we don't know is how these containers will stand up in the real world, and how secure they'll turn out to be, which will be critical to the success of the idea, and the companies backing it. ®

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