AirWatch, IBM, JAMF, MobileIron launch AppConfig for easier enterprise app development
MWC AirWatch, IBM, JAMF Software and MobileIron have announced the launch of the AppConfig Community, a neutral organisation which aims to establish common goals for enterprise applications based on native OS standards.
The new body builds on the work of App Configuration for Enterprise (ACE), launched at last year’s Mobile World Congress, with all ACE members being rolled into AppConfig. The organisation’s mission is to provide tools, best practices and educational forums – think of it almost as a Stack Overflow but purely on enterprise app development – to simplify deployment and accelerate business app adoption. The organisation will first focus on iOS, before moving to Android and Windows later.
The key to AppConfig, compared with ACE, is that all the founding members are enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors. “We are really excited about this community,” said VMware senior business mobility director Mimi Spier. “We fundamentally believe that this will not affect our competitive edge, that our SDKs of each of ours was not a competitive differentiator. It was something we had to do.
“We think that this community, and the best practices we’ll share and the IT that we can share to the developers and to customers will significantly impact the adoption of mobile and the use of mobile in business,” Spier added.
The community is both EMM-neutral and open to software ISVs, mobile app developers, and other EMM vendors who “are committed to adding support for native OS frameworks”, as Anar Taori, senior director of product management at MaaS360 by IBM described it. This represents an interesting change from ACE. Spier admits other enterprise mobility vendors did not see it as EMM-agnostic enough for their tastes.
"The other EMMs had a strong feeling that ACE was very much affiliated with VMware and AirWatch"
“The other EMMs had a strong feeling that ACE was very much affiliated with VMware and AirWatch,” she said. “As much as we wanted it to be a neutral community…with AppConfig this is a brand that represents all of the EMMs, it’s completely neutral from the start. What’s nice about AppConfig is that we’ve [got] IT as the schema that we’re bringing forth that ACE didn’t have.”
As the founding AppConfig members see it, there are three pain points for enterprise app development today: an inconsistent user and IT experience out of the box; the headache of enterprise security requirements; and configuration with multiple EMM platforms. Providing a schema which incorporates native capabilities therefore makes sense.
“The idea of the schema is we’re trying to provide a framework for app developers to easily take advantage of the native app configuration capabilities that are included in iOS,” said Tad Johnson, marketing manager at JAMF Software. “Think of it almost as a guidepost. We’re providing some recommendations on how a developer can implement this. Importantly, we’re not introducing any new standards.”
The four EMM vendors are all part of the Apple Mobility Partner Program, and Apple’s support of this initiative has been available, said Johnson. “This is a real key for what they’re looking for – they have the same goals that we do, which is making that first user experience a great user experience,” he said. A governance body will also be set up among the founders to further enforce a vendor-neutral approach.
No timeframe was given on when AppConfig will look at Android and Windows, while Johnson said the organisation had been in contact with other EMM vendors who are likely to sign up “very soon” after launch.
You can find out more about AppConfig here.
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