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SAP's new Afaria features easier mobile device management and a ‘beautiful’ enterprise app store

by David Needle

December 18 2012

With Afaria enterprises can customize their own app store for mobile devices.
With Afaria enterprises can customize their own app store for mobile devices.

SAP has announced a major update to Afaria, its mobile device management software for the enterprise.

Key features include deeper integration with directories and enterprise systems and simplified user set up (SAP calls it “zero touch”) designed so administrators can create and securely deploy apps without users needing to enter most app setup information such as server address, domain or, user name.

Other new features include a simpler interface for new users to “onboard” or get their devices in the system as well as manage them. The new Afaria also lets organizations build their own custom interface.

SAP says Afaria is already the most widely deployed enterprise mobile management solution, but the new release also seems to be a recognition that the highly competitive industry is changing.

“If I’ve learned one thing it’s the importance of the user interface,” Bryan Whitmarsh, Senior Product Manager for Afaria, told TabTimes. Now we are presenting a beautiful interface to an enterprise app store.”

With Afaria, enterprises can set up their own internal app store that, along with custom internally-developed apps, can also include approved apps from public commercial stores like Apple’s App Store and Google Play.This latest release adds support more Android devices and also Windows 8. 

Whitmarsh explains that Afaria scrapes the install screen of the commercial app store so it’s the same user experience, but all the user can do is download the specific, approved app, not poke around for other non-approved apps to download as well.

“The screen shots are scraped, you aren’t going to the actual Apple App Store,” he said.

Faster onboarding

The new onboarding feature is meant to speed the time a new user can add their device, even if it’s their own in a BYOD scenario, to the system. 

“You can take a new iPad mini out of the box and in a few clicks have that device enabled,” said Whitmarsh. “This greatly reduces the workload for IT because the user can also manage the device.”

For example, he says if a user left their device somewhere, they can remotely lock it themselves “or take more aggressive action” using Afaria without contacting IT, he added.

Another key enhancement to Afaria for companies where the iPad and iPhone are deployed is increased jailbreak detection which is a bigger problem in some regions of the world than others.

Users sometimes “jailbreak” their device so they can download apps not available via the App Store. But the device that’s been jailbroken won’t get Apple’s software updates and may be more vulnerable to viruses.

SAP said it’s also planning to add increased iOS configuration and application management capabilities. 

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