Google has added remote management controls to the Google Apps platform to give IT administrators greater control over their smartphone fleets. With the changes introduced Thursday, Google Apps Premier and Education Edition clients will be able to enforce corporate policies across a range of mobile devices from Apple, Nokia, Research In Motion, and Windows Mobile handset vendors.
"These policies will let employees access their data from their phones while helping IT administrators easily control access to corporate data on mobile devices," Google software engineer Bryan Mawhinney wrote in a blog.
Remote Lock and Wipe
Among other things, the new controls will let IT administrators require a password on each phone and set minimum lengths for secure passwords, Mawhinney wrote. Moreover, administrators will be able to automatically lock down idle devices following a specified period of inactivity.
And once a user starts syncing devices with Google Apps, the domain administrator "will be able to remotely wipe device data -- right from the user-settings page," Mawhinney explained. All these features "will be accessible from the 'Mobile' tab under 'Service Settings' in the Google Apps control panel," he wrote.
Thursday's rollout to IT administrators represents the latest step in making Google Apps readily accessible from mobile devices, the company said. In the past 12 months, Google has launched the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server and announced new web versions of Gmail and Google Calendar for Android-powered phones.
What's more, Google Apps Premier Edition and Education Edition clients have more options now offered by Google Sync -- a new utility for Apple's iPhone, BlackBerrys, Nokia E-series devices, and Windows Mobile handsets.
"Sync is a two-way service, which means you can add, delete or change calendar events or contact information on your desktop or on your phone," Google said. "Whenever you do this, your other device updates wirelessly."
Featuring push technology, Google's beta release of Google Sync synchronizes e-mail, calendar and contacts through the Google cloud. "Stay tuned for similar features for Android devices like the Nexus One and Droid," Mawhinney advised.
To enable Google Sync, which uses the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol on most mobile devices, administrators will need to set it up for their domains. Click the Mobile Link in the services settings section of the dashboard, select the checkbox next to Enable Google Sync and then click Save changes. Alternatively, administrators can select Restrict Google Sync to ensure that the technology only applies to devices that support the enterprise's internal security settings.
On the downside, Google Sync's ability to synchronize the user's Gmail, contacts and calendar doesn't apply equally to all smartphone models, with Windows Mobile devices and Apple's iPhone the only handsets on which all the capabilities are currently available. By contrast, Gmail sync is unavailable on handsets from Nokia or Research In Motion, nor is push support currently offered for BlackBerry smartphones.
Google cautioned IT administrators to do a backup before setting up a new Exchange ActiveSync account on any mobile device because existing data may be removed from the phone. Google Sync also may cause increased battery use on mobile devices like any service using push technology, the company said.
Posted: 2010-04-12 @ 11:40am PT
Either Android 2.1 doesn't respect the policy requirements, while it does respect Exchange Server policy requirements, or Google Sync doesn't enforce policies for Android devices.