IBM MobileFirst

Published: February 25th, 2015

Las Vegas, NV – IBM has announced an update to its MobileFirst platform that makes the app-building solution modular, cross-platform and more secure than even BlackBerry’s offering.

“The BlackBerry security experience is somewhat tied up with BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) and what they do on-device,” said Michael Gilfix, vice president of IBM MobileFirst.  “We go a bit beyond that because we do it inside the application. So we do things clearly at a device level, but if you launch your application, we can build security into the sandbox of the app.”

Namely, the updated MobileFirst platform will offer container technology that isolates the data within the app, which will, according to Gilfix, prevent it from being copied into a non-secured app, in one example.  However, different protected apps would work with each other, Gilfix said.

Furthermore, MobileFirst is implementing deep code obfuscation and other binary protection mechanisms that can “inject” additional security into apps.  Gilfix added that there are additional security features throughout the building process, such as client data encryption, SSL access certifications and management, and identity authentication mechanisms.

Using fingerprint technology, IBM is even able to run “an algorithm on [an app] to determine that a copy that is turning up on the device is the same as a deployed copy so we know it hasn’t been changed,” Gilfix said.

The MobileFirst platform, which was launched more than two years ago, is meant to help companies accelerate their app creation.

With enterprises wanting to dive into mobile productivity, challenges are still abundant, and include mobile device management mechanisms, security, various operating systems, and more, according to Phil Buckellew, vice president of enterprise mobile at IBM.

As a result, “over 85% of organizations have a backlog of up to 20 enterprise apps,” said Buckellew.

The new modular services under the MobileFirst umbrella will target personalization and analytics in addition to security and overall functionality, he said.

According to Buckellew, the latest version of the service will run on IBM’s heavily-hyped Bluemix platform-as-a-service technology and also allow existing third party apps to be recompiled using tools such as HTML5 and jQuery.

While IBM was unclear on whether it would concentrate its efforts on other companies the same way it has building apps for Apple’s iOS, the company also announced a partnership with Shiseido that will see the cosmetics company build enterprise productivity apps on its employee tablets.