IBM, Juniper launch mobile security team

Juniper brings its technology, IBM its manpower to bear on security options for the enterprise

When it comes to mobile device security these days, there are a lot of options. From the startups to the big boys, every office of a chief information officer gets routinely flooded with proposals from various companies looking to secure smart phones. It is like mobile security is the Wild West and there are these roaming groups of vigilante posses ready to defend your hovel for the right price.

That is why when two major security and solutions companies get together to offer managed mobile security solutions, it is hard not to notice.

Juniper Networks and IBM announced earlier this month that they would be teaming to provide mobile security and managed services to enterprise and federal clients.

"Enterprises are very, very deeply looking at how do I connect securely in to the bring-your-own smart phone policies and have e-mail and potentially backend systems compromising data and security for the enterprise," said Pete DeNagy, independent mobility consultant. "So, that is where Juniper comes in, it is basically a security/VPN suite."

It makes perfect sense. Juniper is one of the thought leaders and market avant-garde when it comes to mobile security (they employ a mobile security ‘evangelist’ – Daniel Hoffman – who else has one of those?) and has a good track record of being a relatively altruistic company when it comes to informing the industry on security trends. IBM, through sheer might, is the vehicle to get Juniper’s products to the enterprise.

“One of the things that Juniper is not, we are not a services company,” said Sanjay Beri, vice president and general manager of Juniper’s Access and Acceleration business unit. “We are not going to build a managed service and offer it to our customers. We are not going to have the professional services, it is Goliath, and we are not going to be. So, when you look at an IBM and you look at a Juniper; we have great products and technology and they have know-how and manpower and so on to offer services and build packages around those and offer managed services.”

Juniper’s technology that will be managed and served by IBM is called Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite. It attempts to provide quality service across all the major areas of smart phone security – connectivity, data security and threats (malware, spyware, viruses, remote wipe, monitoring, etc.).  It does this through its virtual private network technology that has been around for years as well as integrating new security practices to the smart phone realm that have been old mainstays of PC security such as threat and virus detection and malware among others.

“Connectivity, security for mobile devices and the other big one is just the notion of device policies and management and monitoring ... those are the main areas,” Beri said. “We do offer the ability to do things like monitor ... and some of the federal customers have asked that if they wanted to monitor a rogue employee and see what they're doing in traffic, that is the type of thing they could buy from us. That is the foundation of the mobile product that we offer.”

The suite is provided as an app that can be integrated through the various marketplaces on the major operating systems. Apple’s iOS, Google Android, Microsoft Windows Mobile and Nokia Symbian are all supported. Beri said that Juniper had to work closely with Apple to design security architecture because the infrastructure just did not exist before to allow users to connect to VPN tunnels through iOS devices.

“It is one client sitting on the end point and as you enable the other pieces of functionality the client seamlessly just has that functionality,” Beri said. “We don't make you go download another app or install another app or so on.”

The how of the Juniper technology is not the story. When it comes specifically to how mobile is being secured, there is innovation happening across the industry but no one company has distanced itself from another. ManTech International is getting into mobile security. Symantec also has some advanced ideas that are similar to Juniper's as well as products for mobile security. Motorola's purchase of security company 3LM will be more important than a lot of people realize and the the partnership between Cisco, Samsung and SyBase is an important cooperation as well. These are all in addition to the dozens of other middle and small sized firms trying to get a piece of the pie.

"Juniper and IBM is basically Juniper providing the security suite that as part of the IBM SAN service to government and corporate clients.
IBM is investing deeply into mobility," said DeNagy. "This becomes a big play because tablets have pretty much killed netbooks. ... It is a tablet world at this point."

The real story is the product that IBM chose among all the fishes in the mobile sea. Juniper is a traditional IBM partner and a trusted source in the industry. Yet, IBM has a lot of traditional partners and trusted sources in the industry. Beri believes that, outside of the previous relationship with IBM (which was still an important factor) it was the ability for Juniper to function well in all three areas of mobile security where maybe other companies do not.

“Really what IBM has seen through enterprise and in federal is this need, this growing influx of mobile devices and networks -- they are not BlackBerrys only -- executives and others demanding they support everything,” Beri said. “That is a great opportunity for IBM. A) Because those are already their clients and B) this is truly a service that you can monetize reasonably well. What they are working with us on is to provide a managed mobility service that solves the problems around how do I connect and secure my device to the network.”

About the Author

Dan Rowinski is a staff reporter covering communications technologies.

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