Like it or not, people are bringing their iPads to work. This creates all kinds of headaches for IT departments.
MokaFive wants to give these poor folks a couple of aspirin.
The company was founded six years ago by former McAfee CEO Dale Fuller. He did a stint as the head of Apple's Powerbook group back in the 1990s, and followed Steve Jobs to NeXT and then back to Apple.
MokaFive makes products for Windows shops to work better with Apple products. So far, it's been limited to Macs.
But today, the company expanded its product line to support iPads and iPhones.
The new MokaFive for iOS product provides benefits to both employees and IT departments:
Employees can access data on Windows systems from their iOS devices, even when they're not connected to the Internet. Employees install the MokaFive app on their iPhone or iPad, and suddenly they can access any data in that the IT department wants to give them access to -- from Microsoft Office documents stored on file servers to financial data stored in an ERP system. MokaFive stores a local version of this data on their devices, so they can view and it even when they don't have an active Internet connection. This can be incredibly useful for mobile workers -- like a salesperson who wants to show a PowerPoint presentation or the latest quarterly numbers on a sales call in a remote area.
IT departments can keep control of this data. MokaFive for iOS lets IT departments control exactly which apps and corporate data users get access to, and exactly how they can access it -- for instance, IT departments can ban copy-and-paste, prevent users from emailing files to themselves, and so on. If the iPad is lost or stolen or an employee goes rogue, MokaFive for iOS can remotely wipe the app out. There are plenty of other mobile device management solutions that give IT control over users' iPads and iPhones, from companies like Zenprise and Airwatch. But these solutions they don't have the remote access and caching features for employees that MokaFive offers. MokaFive also argues that these solutions are "overkill" because they allow companies to wipe an ENTIRE iPad clean -- including the user's personal data and apps.
MokaFive is taking advantage of a rising technology called desktop virtualization.
Virtualization technology from companies like VMWare, Citrix, Oracle, and Microsoft lets corporations create a standard-issue Windows desktop that actually lives on a server in the company. Employees can then connect to this server to access this Windows desktop from almost any kind of device -- a Linux computer, a Mac, even an iPad or iPhone. It looks and feels like they're using a regular Windows PC.
MokaFive for iOS is not a new virtualization technology, Fuller explained.
Instead, it's a "bolt-on" management layer that works with many of these virtualization technologies. It basically takes the virtualized data, packages it up in a secure and encrypted "bubble," then delivers it in the form of an app. Pretty cool.
Apple products are still relatively rare in enterprises, accounting for maybe 1 or 2 percent of total usage. But it's enough to make a nice business for MokaFive: the company only launched its first product in 2010, and has more than 120 customers managing more than 100,000 devices. Customers pay $40 per user per year if employees are only consuming data, or $150 per user per year if they want to consume and create.
The iPad has become incredibly popular in a very short time, accounting for the equivalent of 17% of the Windows PC market in the fourth quarter of 2012. Eventually a lot of these iPads are going to start coming to work.
As that happens, companies like MokaFive stand to benefit.