Centrify bolsters mobile security policy via Active Directory

Cloud service lets customers push group policies set in Microsoft's Active Directory to employees' mobile devices

Centrify, which sells software for managing Apple Macs and Windows PCs through Microsoft Active Directory, has launched a cloud service that provides similar capabilities for smartphones and tablets running Google's Android and Apple's iOS mobile operating systems.

Centrify introduced Tuesday a paid and free version of its new product, DirectControl for Mobile and Express for Mobile. The cloud service lets customers push group policies set in Active Directory to employees' mobile devices.

Device management can be handled directly from Active Directory. IT managers also have the option of performing the same tasks through a web browser by logging in to Centrify's cloud service.

Examples of group policies that can be pushed to smartphones and tablets include requiring a password to unlock the device, automatically locking an idle device after a minute and wiping a device clean of data after a pre-set number of password attempts.

Universal Melody Services, which sells and rents musical instruments through a total of a half dozen stores in Dallas and Houston, is using Centrify's Express for Mobile. Kevin Martin, chief technology officer for the company, went with the free version after executives rejected as too expensive his first choice, AirWatch's mobile device management product. "It was too pricey for a company of our size," he said.

Nevertheless, Martin was determined to find an MDM product after one of Universal Melody Services 18 salespeople started working for a competitor, taking his smartphone and the corporate email it contained. "There was always the potential that price listings and different things like that from a sensitive sales nature could be in the hands of our competitor," Martin said.

Express for Mobile removed that threat and has performed as advertised. "We're very happy with it," Martin said. As a result, Universal Melody Services has bought Centrify's Active Directory software for managing the handful of Macs in the company's design department.

Centrify provides a collection of on-premise Windows management tools that are installed on the Active Directory server. The package includes a proxy server that handles communications over HTTPS between Active Direct and the Centrify cloud service.

An optional mobile application for Apple and Android devices can detect rooted or jail-broken devices and provide an automated, enrollment process for registering a device into an Active Directory domain.

Companies that want 24-hour support can buy DirectControl for Mobile for an annual subscription fee of $36 per device. Centrify plans to introduce premium services in the fall to attract more paying customers. Those features will include reporting, application management and the ability to tie into an authentication infrastructure for single sign-on to other web services.

Centrify's chief executive, Tom Kemp, said the 250-employee company has 4,000 customers, including 20 of the Fortune 50 companies.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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