Focusing on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) management and security can be a lesson in scalability for larger enterprises. I’ve been following a company called Riparian Data for a while, and they’ve developed a cloud-based email management solution called Gander. This solution is still in beta, but it points to a future for large enterprise management of email on BYOD for security administrators.
The concept behind Gander comes from Riparian Data’s work with the open source Timberwolf email management application that pulls data from Microsoft Exchange into Hbase. Once the email server data is in HBase, Timberwolf enables you to analyze the data using common query languages. When a New York City investment bank saw Timberwolf, they encouraged the company to commercialize the product, which led to the company developing what is now Gander.
Gander isn’t an end user email solution. Riparian Data is targeting large enterprises with this solution, so we are talking thousands to tens of thousands of email accounts and the mobile users who want to access their accounts from mobile devices.
Getting started with Gander
Riparian Data gave me access to the private beta of Gander. I used an iPhone 5 and had it filter my Gmail. When you login to the Gander beta, it asks permissions for the following:
- View and manage your email
- View basic information about your account
- View your email address
- Perform these operations when I’m not using the application
Ultimately, when it launches, Gander will also support Microsoft Exchange email because of its dominance inside corporate enterprises. Figure A shows the current Gander login screen:
Gander login screen.
The Gander setup is easy. While I’m sure a large company using Gander would automate setup as part of a BYOD onboarding process, the setup is easy enough for a tech savvy user and even less savvy users with some phone support or training.
Manage mobile email with Gander
Using Gander for BYOD email means using a mobile web browser. This can be a risky move in terms of usability and sometimes performance, based on my experience with similar browser-based services on mobile devices. However, Gander has a streamlined HTML 5 interface that shouldn’t require much, if any, user training. Figure B shows an inbox as seen through Gander:
Email as seen in the Gander inbox.
When I sent my Gmail account through Gander, I also did a good job of picking up the categories from my account. Figure C shows the categories Gander brought over from my Gmail account:
Email categories as seen in Gander.
Gander also has some user features for customizing the Gander experience. Figure D shows some of the available Gander features:
There’s no need for user intervention to make this mail processing happen. However, if Gander miscategorizes an email, a user can drag and drop the email in its proper place. Gander offers a minimalist email user experience, and its simplicity lends itself better to interacting with email on a mobile device. In fact, I think this approach could help some users get a better handle over their email inbox.
Gander keeps email handling simple with only two sections:
- Main, which consists of email from people that you know and email that seems important
- Skim, which includes email from strangers and robots
The processing and analytics takes place in the cloud, so mobile users don’t have access to any of the information, but they do benefit from tighter email inbox management. Using Gander as an email standard for BYOD users should also benefit the help desk by providing a consistent email user experience instead of dealing with multiple email apps. Likewise, keeping email off BYOD devices is a boon to security, and being able to shut down email access is easier when a device is lost, stolen, or the employee leaves the company.
Is it a goose or Gander for BYOD email?
Riparian Data has the potential to bring some original ideas to BYOD email management, and I rank them as a company and Gander as a product to watch for when it launches.
Gander’s cloud approach to managing corporate email access from mobile devices could be a timesaver when devices come onboard. This method also has storage on its side to aid in faster processing and analytics vs. an iPhone app that needs to phone home to a server to process email.
TechRepublic and ZDNet delve deeper into this topic in a special report page: BYOD and the Consumerization of IT.