Google Apps for Android Gets Enterprise Security, Management

Google brings enterprise security support for Google Apps on its Android 2.2 mobile platform. The move comes as more Android phone owners are using their handsets for business.

Google Oct. 28 added enterprise management and sync support for Google Apps on its Android 2.2 mobile platform, which will prove useful for IT managers as more Android smartphones are used for business.

Android devices, such as the entire Droid line from Verizon Wireless, already sport native Google Apps such as Gmail, Google Talk and Google Calendar apps, with mobile access to Google Docs.

Running in handsets such as the Motorola Droid, Droid X and Droid 2, Android 2.2 is the first version of the open-source OS with extensive enterprise support.

The build includes policy management APIs that enable remote wipe, and features to manage Microsoft Exchange on smartphones. However, until now, Google Apps had not been tuned to support such data security features.

Google said that IT administrators will now be able to: remotely wipe all data from lost or stolen mobile devices; lock idle devices after a period of inactivity; require a device password on each phone; set minimum lengths to boost password security; and require alphanumeric passwords.

Moreover, the administrator can shield corporate information from employees who leave a company.

This is a big deal. Good Technology has found in its installations that many employees are using their own Android or iPhone handsets--that is, not corporate-issue--for work communications.

Google noted that these policies can be enforced through a Web browser on devices that have installed the Google Apps Device Policy application, which will be available from Android Market in the next few days.

The app will be available free to all Google Apps Premier and Education Edition customers, accessible from the Mobile tab under Service Settings in the Google Apps control panel.

Interestingly, Google already offers most of the aforementioned security policy capabilities for other major platforms.

Google began supporting Research In Motion's BlackBerry Enterprise Server in August 2009, and covered Apple's iPhone, Nokia S60 and Windows Mobile last February.

With more than 200,000 Android devices activated each day, some of which are being used by corporate employees for business communications, it was high time for Google to do the same for its own platform.