Google Glass breaks into business

Like tablets and smartphones, Glass will need to be managed by IT

While Google Glass is currently being viewed as a consumer technology, IT shops and mobile workers are likely already champing at the bit to be able to use a hands-free technology to do their jobs.

"The same way that tablets followed smartphones into the enterprise on the backs of employees bearing the cost, Google Glass will also flow the same way," said Chris Hazelton, research director for Mobile & Wireless at 451 Research. "This will also drive acceptance. So, you may see tools that will directly manage Google Glass."

Because Google Glass runs on the Android OS, mobile device management (MDM) vendors who already can manage Android smartphones and tablets see an opportunity to place a device client and apps store on the glasses that will allow IT departments to push tools to employees when they come to Google Glass.

What may arguably be the first MDM vendor to do so has written an application-programming interface (API) using Google's Mirror API.

Fiberlink said that its cloud-based (MDM) platform, MaaS360, now supports Google Glass, allowing IT managers to go hands-free in monitoring and administering mobile devices in the enterprise.

"The ability to literally see your mobile environment right before your eyes and know that users, devices, applications and corporate documents are safe is a wonderful feeling," said Frank Schloendorn, director of Android ecosystem at Fiberlink. "The freedom to take action on the go and help someone at any time, all by looking through Google Glass, is an amazing experience. It's just plain cool."

Using MaaS360 through Google Glass, for example, if an employee notifies the IT department they've lost their smartphone, an administrator can asks Google Glass to locate the lost device, and a map instantly appears on the virtual screen displaying its location. The administrator can then either tell the employee where it is, lock the device or wipe it of corporate data.

What an administrator wearing Google Glass would see with Fiberlink's Mass360 MDM Web portal interface

Similarly, when an IT administrator checks the MaaS360 Alert Center through Google Glass they can discover new corporate mobile devices on the network and see if any tablets or smartphones are out of compliance with security policies. Instead of waiting for the user to call asking why they no longer have access to corporate resources, the IT administrator uses voice commands to instantly send a message with instructions on how to remediate the issue.

While only available through a Web-based interface today, Fiberlink said it will eventually be able to write native applications for Google Glass once the software developer's kit (SDK) is released later this year.

451 Research's Hazelton sees the potential for Google Glass and other wearable technologies as limitless.

"Imagine being a worker up on a power pole or cell tower where you need your hands to keep you alive. That worker may need help and guidance that he was not expecting, and he could get that with the wearable technology," he said. "Having a hands-free environment is helpful."

Another scenario: Delivery drivers who need information or may need to communicate with dispatch without using their hands.

But, as Hazelton pointed out, "often the first-adopters in any organization are in IT."

"It's actually faster and easier to use them," he said. "You could actually say that touch computing is the traditional method now."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

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Tags IT managementGooglehardware systemsEmerging Technologiesconsumerization of ITFiberlinkBring Your Own Device (BYOD)

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