TSA Launches Long-Awaited Mobile Application Management Solution

Two years ago, a relatively small Boston-based company focused exclusively on delivering enterprise mobile app management (MAM), and mobile app and data security through private app store deployments, formally convinced the US Transportation Security Agency (TSA) of its app store platform approach to mobile app security, and first sold TSA an Apperian platform license.

The rest, as they say, is history...

Or, more accurately, history then took over, and the usual and seemingly never-ending process of gaining US federal government certification to actually deploy the Apperian platform began. Two years later, after numerous painstaking and detailed government reviews, Apperian announced today that it has emerged with its prize - a very difficult-to-obtain Authority to Operate (ATO) certification, which in effect means that TSA can now finally launch its Apperian-driven mobile app store.

This is in fact a very big deal for Apperian, a company that I believe is doing some cutting-edge enterprise mobile security work. TSA has about 50,000 employees and contractors, all of whom TSA is planning to quickly bring into the 21st century by granting them in-the-field (at the airport) mobile app capabilities on BYOD devices.

It may be surprising to hear that TSA employees do not yet live in the mobile world. Imagine, if you will, the prehistoric notion of a single secured TSA laptop, available for shared use by every TSA employee in any given location. But until today, this has been the reality.

In fact, the TSA is now proving itself to be fully engaging in, and rapidly moving ahead of, the mobility curve. During an extensive chat I had with Harvey Morrison, SVP Global Public Sector and Corporate Accounts at Apperian, Harvey was quick to note: "The TSA is a trailblazer in mobility, and as the public sector continues to look for ways to more efficiently deliver information to their workers in BYOD settings, we expect many more agencies and organisations to follow suit. This ATO, which was an incredibly detailed and comprehensive process, should open up many new doors for us in this sector, which is full of use cases that our application-centric approach excels in delivering on."

What is of further interest as it regards TSA (and for that matter, its parent, the US Department of Homeland Security) is that the Apperian MAM platform will be delivered as a SaaS offering that will not be hosted within the government itself.

Rather, the Apperian-driven TSA mobile app store will be hosted through IBM's SmartCloud for Government service. SmartCloud for Government is among the first external cloud-based hosting services to receive Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) certification, and Apperian's app store will be among the first to be offered on such a platform.

IBM and Apperian joined forces early on in the process, and the two have established a precedent-setting offering here. We are watching the federal government move into a truly modern and sophisticated mobile world, and we have significant federal government certification (and trust) to go along with it. My hat gets tipped to both IBM, and especially to Apperian, for pulling it off.

It's not my goal in this blog post to outline the numerous workforce productivity benefits TSA stands to gain here; at this point in our enterprise mobile lives, these are self-evident. TSA's workforce (which includes its independent contractors) gains immediate access to training programs, internal communications, regulation updates, safety procedures, and other timely and important information. TSA gains significant cost savings and workforce efficiencies. You know that mobile story.

An Enterprise Game-Changer

TSA's 50,000 employee workforce is substantial, and will provide Apperian with plenty of licensing opportunities and potential revenue generation. But let's now consider that its parent, the Department of Homeland Security, has over 240,000 employees. That is one very nice pipeline of potential Apperian users. Aside from size, however, the reality is that for Apperian to gain access to these users (and users within other agencies outside of Homeland Security), it must provide a comprehensive mobile security capability.

With its new ATO in hand, it's clear to me that Apperian offers a level of mobile security that meets - and in the majority of cases, will exceed - the security needs of most non-government enterprises. This includes the security needs of businesses operating in verticals such as healthcare that must meet government-mandated security and privacy protocols and regulations.

The traditional avenue to ensuring mobile security has been to go through one of the enterprise mobile management (EMM) vendors. The EMM vendors begin with mobile device management (MDM) services, and then layer on various MAM services. In just about all cases, none of the EMM vendors offer a native MAM capability, by which I mean a MAM platform that has been built from the ground up, to deliver rich MAM and data security services through a simple app store. This is what Apperian has achieved.

Now, I don't want anyone to be fooled by the word 'simple.' What is simple is what the enterprise itself sees from both the IT and end user side. For users, they gain a high level of security in a completely frictionless way. They go to the Apperian-driven app store and grab their apps.

Enterprise IT, for the most part, simply has to manage the relevant mobile app policies for all of its users. IT can do this at both larger group levels and at very fine individual/granular levels. Any changes made to these policies are simply propagated in real-time to users and groups behind the scenes.

What isn't simple is the great deal of behind-the-scenes technical complexity that Apperian has mastered to deliver on the public-facing simplicity. Nor are Apperian's app stores simple in the sense of being low-function - they provide a great deal of sophisticated functionality and provide views that are exactly the same as - depending on the app - one sees from the Apple App Store and Google Play (Windows is coming very soon). That, however, is all a discussion for another day.

An enterprise does not need to utilise MDM/MAM and an app store that has been cobbled together around them. Rather, an enterprise can instead move directly to implementing Apperian's hyper-modern and robust app store that handles all mobile app and data security needs.

In today's enterprise world, mobility is no longer necessarily a competitive advantage, but merely table stakes to stay in business. This means a huge increase in the number of mobile workers, and if a business can provide those workers with a simple and seamless means to securely access enterprise apps and data, as Apperian's app store approach does, a business can ensure it remains both viable and competitive.

The TSA deal and Apperian's new ATO are a game-changer in this regard. If a highly security-conscious TSA can easily get a 50,000 person workforce mobile-ready, an enterprise can certainly do so as well. The federal ATO underlines that just because Apperian has managed to make mobile app security simple it hasn't made it less rigorous.

To learn more about Mobile Application Management and enterprise app stores, read the Definitive Guide to Mobile Application Management. Download your complimentary copy today.

This article was written by Tony Rizzo, Entrepreneur in Residence, Mobile, IoT & Wearable Enterprise Research for Blue Hill Research.