As employees tote their own devices into the enterprise, Iongrid’s Nexus software promises to bring Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets to their iPads with what it calls “pixel perfect” fidelity, and in a way that won’t give the corporate compliance department a collective heart attack.
That’s no small feat. C-level execs loved Apple’s iPads from day one, almost immediately forcing their IT departments to support the devices whether they wanted to or not. That worked okay except for two things. First, PowerPoint slides et al. did not display well on iPads without a third-party reader. Second, the proliferation of internal documents emailed or downloaded to iPads gives compliance officers fits.
Iongrid says the Nexus client-server application layers security atop existing Active Directory server-based policies to let authorized execs including salesmen who need to take presentations on the road, display their documents with great fidelity on their iPads.
Nexus, which debuts Tuesday at the Enterprise 2.0 conference, securely streams documents to the iPad for viewing. The user can then manipulate those documents using the usual iPad gestures. The initial release allows viewing only, although within weeks users will be able to annotate or lightly edit the documents as well, said Nick Triantos, CEO and founder of Iongrid and former chief software architect for NVIDIA.
“We keep a proxy of the document in memory and a list of changes to that document. Then, when you reconnect, we apply those changes to the original,” Triantos said.
If IT policy allows, people will also be able to take their documents off-line in which case the local copy on the device will be encrypted, he added.
The potential opportunity is big. The iPad leads the market in tablets, and is a particular favorite among the aforementioned high-level execs. And, many, many companies store their shared Microsoft Office applications in SharePoint repositories.
Typically what happens now when execs want to take their documents on the road, they email them to Gmail and then call them up on the iPad where the documents won’t render correctly without a special reader. Or they save the Office docs to Dropbox or some other cloud-based repository but the display problem remains the same. Sometimes an assistant would convert the required document to PDF and then download that — a “ridiculously labor intensive,” process — Triantos said.
Nexus’ server component enforces existing permissions and security levels set in Active Directory but can add more layers, said Michael Rothrock, Iongrid’s VP of product.
“Active Directory doesn’t know the user location, but we do, so if a user is off campus or abroad, we can enforce a new subset of security based on IP address and the iPad’s GPS information,” he said.
Pricing is $15 per user per month with volume discounts available.
Iongrid was founded in 2010 by Triantos, Rothrock and Ben de Waal, who is CTO. It’s privately funded by angel investors including Simon Crosby and Nigel Stokes. Crosby is CTO of Bromium (and founder and former CTO of XenSource, now part of Citrix); Stokes is chairman of AppZero and former CEO of DataMirror (acquired by IBM in 2007.)
Analyst Peter Christy, co-founder of the Internet Research Group, said Iongrid is attacking a meaty problem. Apple iPads were designed for 20-year olds who want to share everything. Business users have different needs, and since two to four percent of laptops or tablets are lost or stolen, these users need higher security standards.
“Oftentimes a thief can turn off the radio on a device before anyone from the home office can wipe it clean,” he said. Iongrid Nexus can alleviate those security concerns.