Motorola's 3LM Secures Android Smartphones, Tablets

Motorola Mobility's 3LM Android enterprise device management software arm launched its enterprise server console to the market Oct. 10. It competes with software from Good, Zenprise, MobileIron and others.

Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) subsidiary 3LM Oct. 10 introduced its enterprise server console software to secure handsets and tablets based on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system.

The market is littered with dozens of enterprise device management (EDM) vendors, including Good Technology, MobileIron, Enterproid and Zenprise. Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) popularized the sector with BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which is the leading EDM software in the market, paired with the BlackBerry devices.

However, businesses are increasingly turning to Apple's iPhone or Android handsets from Samsung, HTC and Motorola as a BlackBerry replacement. Sometimes, it isn't by choice; employees have forced IT managers to procure EDM software by using their own iPhone and Android smartphones for business.

Of course, the Goods and Zenprises of this world already provide EDM for Android and iPhone (and even iPads, increasingly). While those vendors secure and manage Android at the application level, 3LM founders Tom Moss and Gaurav Mather decided to develop their EDM software from the operating system level, which ostensibly means better security and management.

It also helped that Moss and Mathur founded 3LM after working on the Android security team at Google. These cooks should know the right ingredients for their EDM recipes.

Moss also said he spoke to a lot of CEOs and CIOs to find out what security and management features they would like to see for Android devices.

"We took all of that feedback and realized that what was really necessary to meet the needs was not possible to deliver through a set of applications," Moss said. "They actually need certain functionality to be at the core operating system itself. We set out to build those ourselves."

Here is a list of some of 3LM's functionality:

  • Device encryption including full memory and SD card encryption as well as selective encryption of corporate applications only
  • Set of whitelist/blacklist applications and control applications' access to corporate resources
  • Strong password enforcement
  • Full and selective remote wipe for devices
  • Enables complete security and control of device, OS and applications
  • The ability to remotely install enterprise applications and make such applications irremovable on the device, and remotely uninstall/disable applications
  • Device location and breadcrumb tracking
  • Remote access to internal enterprise resources for selected domains
  • Remote device health and status checking
  • Each device is identified by a unique IP address for tracking as a network endpoint

Android is open source, so Moss, Mathur and their team used the Android kernel code to construct a software patch that they distributed to 12 OEM partners -- the handset makers, who put the patch on their devices. The handsets leave stores and get into end users' hands with the patches already installed; Moss said 3LM is quietly on tens of millions of handsets already.

Moss and company also constructed a management console for IT administrators to use, as well as server infrastructure for managing email and VPNs.

After beta testing this software with over 50 enterprise customers, the enterprise server console is the product 3LM released to general availability today, which means enterprises can purchase the software right from 3LM.

Moreover, to help get its software to the broader market, 3LM partnered with EDM provider BoxTone in a distribution deal to help secure Android devices locally and over the air.

The notion of former Googlers peeling off and creating their own little Android security ecosystem is refreshing, but it would be nice to know what Fortune 500 companies have procured the software in beta. Moss declined to cite any customer case studies, though he did tell eWEEK he sees a lot of traction in education, retail, health care and, of course, high tech.

Of course, the product launch isn't the only change Moss and his 3LM team may have to deal with. Google is in the process of acquiring Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, which would make the second time Moss worked for Google. Moss himself appreciated the irony.