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Manage corporate data on your BYOD iPad with MokaFive

Will Kelly reviews MokaFive for iOS, a mobile device management (MDM) solution for iOS devices.

Mobile device management (MDM) solutions for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs have always been sensitive territory, because this is where personal and corporate technology intersects. I recently spent some time trying MokaFive for iOS, and I found it to be a flexible MDM solution that can adapt to the changing requirements of a BYOD program.

MokaFive for iOS creates a secure container on an iPad or iPhone called a LiveData container. This is ideal for BYOD, because the end user maintains control over their Angry Birds, music, and personal email, while corporate data, network access, and apps sit securely in an encrypted container.

Using the MokaFive app

The MokaFive app is a free download from the App Store. Using it on an iPad or other iOS device requires a MokaFive server installation. Organizations could install the app as part of an onboarding process, but it would be just as easy to direct users to download the app and login to get started.

MokaFive includes the following features:

  • Connection to secure corporate file shares
  • A corporate IT managed LiveData container to safeguard corporate data on a personal iOS device
  • Local file cache for offline access to documents
Figure A shows the MokaFive trial site open in the MokaFive app: Figure A

Documents in MokaFive.
The MokaFive app also offers native support for PDF documents with annotation capabilities, including markup, sticky notes, and various stamps to mark a document as draft or confidential. Using this native support means you can keep all document access within the LiveData Container. Figure B shows a PDF document open in the MokaFive app: Figure B

PDF open in MokaFive.

The benefit of using the native PDF support in MokaFive vs. Adobe Reader is that all of the document editing takes place inside the secure container.

MokaFive for iOS also supports the offline caching of corporate documents within the secure container. However, it's not as user friendly as Alfresco Mobile and requires some back end setup to make-work.

MokaFive user settings

While the MokaFive user settings aren't too sensitive, I still think that organizations need to have some training, standards, and documentation about such settings. This will help with user/help desk communications and build further BYOD user self-sufficiency.

MokaFive app users can access the following application settings:

  • Local Storage for setting maximum file size and device storage
  • Passcode Lock
  • Network settings
Settings also include the user and console names. Figure C shows the MokaFive app settings: Figure C

MokaFive app settings.

MokaFive and SharePoint

If your organization is standardized on SharePoint, you might be looking at Harmon.ie or one of the other top SharePoint apps for the iPad to outfit your BYOD users. MokaFive supports direct access via the mobile browser to SharePoint sites on your corporate network, provided you have sufficient privileges. This SharePoint access doesn't require a VPN.

While I didn't have the opportunity to test SharePoint access through MokaFive, such an option in an MDM solution could be appealing to an organization that relies on SharePoint. However, during my testing of SharePoint apps on the iPad, I found them generally much easier to use than browser-based access to a SharePoint site.

Managing MokaFive

MokaFive does a good job of providing centralized management tools and over 30 management and security policies. Administrators also get the option to specify if/how data is shared outside of the LiveData container, whether it's saving the data to the local device or sending it to another user.

When I was testing the MokaFive backend, I was prompted to download a client app, which seemed a bit archaic. However, this was only part of the test drive -- not their customer solution. As with any trial, be sure to ask questions.

And while I see flexible settings to be a plus for an MDM solution, in the wrong hands, it can be a con as well. I've seen security policies go to the extreme, with IT management having the attitude to wait until enough people complain to throttle back on policies. The flexible policies in a platform like MokaFive could lead to the same thing, unless there are some overarching BYOD guidelines to help make those security policy decisions for the organization and communicate them to the end-user community.

Final thoughts

As a solution, MokaFive for iOS focuses on managing corporate data, not the physical BYOD device. While this is the approach you want for an MDM solution, it might be counterintuitive to some people in your organizations. Thus, MokaFive or even general MDM training and explanations might be required, depending on your management and user community.

MokaFive delivers a very usable client app that shouldn't require too much of a learning curve for newer users. They are flexible and policy driven. Ultimately, this makes it less of a hassle to execute the inevitable changes as lessons learned from supporting BYOD users and other business requirements dictate policy changes.

Also read

TechRepublic and ZDNet delve deeper into this topic in a special report page: BYOD and the Consumerization of IT.

About

Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management ap...

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