MobileIron adding IoT management to its arsenal

MobileIron, which went public in 2014, has been known mostly for helping large companies manage mobile devices, especially in a time when people tend to bring their own. Today it announced it was expanding that mission to the Internet of Things.

When you think about it, it’s a logical move for a company that is used to overseeing a large number of devices and helping IT keep them secure. “Where we are working, [IoT] is a nice natural adjacency we can leverage,” says MobileIron CEO Barry Mainz.

Mobile device management involves providing mechanisms for securing a mobile device, even when the company doesn’t own it.

Mainz says the standard MobileIron architecture is equipped to deal with IoT because of the company’s experience with mobile devices including a device management component, a policy engine for setting rules around the devices and the ability to secure the data on the device. Where it gets tricky he says, is around authentication because instead of a human logging onto a device, it’s a machine talking to a machine, and often moving critical data in the process. MobileIron is using a certification system to work around this passwordless data handoff from device to device.

While MobileIron has experience managing large numbers of devices, IoT often involves millions and the question is can the architecture support the increased volume? Mainz believes it can. “The architecture was built to scale to millions of devices. We have millions of devices today and manage pass through in the cloud implementation. I feel really comfortable, where we could provide scale and reliability [for IoT devices],” he said. Mainz adds that they have hired people from telecommunications companies used to dealing with extremely high levels of network activity.

The company also announced it was bringing in Santhosh Nair, an industry veteran who worked with Mainz at his previous company, Wind River, to run the new IoT division. “Enterprise endpoint security is critical to the successful adoption of technologies for the Internet of Things and many of MobileIron’s engineering innovations are directly applicable to IoT. I believe we have a big opportunity and a huge market lead,” Nair said in a statement.

It’s worth noting that IoT management and security have caught the eye of many companies and MobileIron won’t be alone in this market. Just last year, for example, Cisco paid $1.4 billion for Jasper Technologies, a cloud platform for deploying and managing IoT devices.

The new IoT products should be available in the second half of this year, Mainz said.