How to Distribute Work Apps for Enterprise Users

Enterprise Solutions


The demand for secure enterprise mobile apps is growing fast. Today, app developers have a great opportunity to expand their install base by deploying apps to enterprise environments. It’s important to know how your apps get installed onto enterprise user’s devices.

In this post, I would like to highlight how to distribute enterprise apps securely onto enterprise managed or unmanaged iOS and Android devices using BES12.

Typical mobile app distribution workflows for iOS and Android devices involve the process of app developers releasing apps to the public app stores and users downloading and installing onto their devices. In the enterprise mobile environment, user’s devices and apps are often managed by their enterprise using Mobile Device Management(MDM)/Mobile Application Management(MAM) solution venders like BlackBerry in order to protect corporate data and secure network communications. Therefore app distribution workflows are also integrated with those MDM/MAM solutions in the enterprise environment.

Distributing Work Apps to iOS devices

Option 1: Submit IPA to the App Store and deploy via BES12 System
Apple offers two ways of delivering apps to iOS devices; public or private distribution. iOS developers can submit their apps to Apple App Store and list their apps in public. Enterprise IT admins then add the public app’s link to their BES12 system for use within their corporate environment. Enterprise users can download and install the apps from the public App Store as the apps are now listed in public App Store.

This workflow is a recommended app deployment model if you are an ISV app developer and would like to deploy your iOS app within the enterprise. This includes the apps that are integrated with Good Dynamics SDK.

Option 2: Upload and Deploy IPA via BES12 System
The 2nd option is publishing iOS apps as in-house custom enterprise apps. The apps for an enterprise are uploaded directly to the BES12 system and deployed privately onto users’ devices within the organization. For these workflows, the apps must be signed with their own enterprise signing certificate to be distributed.

Distributing Work Apps to Android devices

Android apps can be installed from an email link or side-loading an APK files. However, these deployment methods are not secure (or recommended) ways of deploying enterprise apps.

There are several options to deploy android apps securely for enterprise users who are using Android for Work (AFW), Samsung KNOX or Good Dynamics.

Option 1: Submit APK to Google Play(Public) and deploy via BES12
This option is to list the app as a public app in Google Play. Once the app is submitted to Google Play and available, IT admins can add the app’s public link from Google Play onto BES12. The apps can then be installed onto enterprise managed Android devices using AFW or Knox. Unmanaged users (without AFW or Knox) could also install Good Dynamics applications directly from Google Play.

Option 2: Submit APK to Google Play with Restricted Distribution and deploy via BES12
This option is to deploy enterprise apps within the enterprise organization via Google Play. Similar to the option above, you can upload the app to Google Play, but the app deployment can be restricted only to those managed enterprise users in the same domain/organization. Users outside of the work domain won’t be able to see the application.

Option 3: Upload and Deploy APK via BES12
For those enterprise developers that do not wish to upload their APK to Google Play, they can upload directly to BES12. BES12 can store the APK in its own local app repository. Note that in order to deploy to AFW, an entry in Google Play is still required, however the APK itself does not need to be uploaded to Google Play.

You can learn more about the deploying Android applications to Android for Work from our related developer blog; Deploying Applications into Android for Work Using BES12

About EunKyung

Enterprise Solutions Manager at BlackBerry, @echotown

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