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Mobile Application Management and Esri's Field Apps

08-06-2017 10:23 PM
Esri Regular Contributor
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Keeping track of mobile devices with access to your corporate network, maps and data is more important than ever. Organizations are implementing an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution that provides for management of devices, provisioning of mobile applications, and compliance with corporate policies, and authentication with proper network access control.


There are a number of Mobile Device Management (MDM) products that help you implement your EMM solution and they all include support for Mobile Application Management (MAM). Here are just a few that Esri Apps have been deployed with – MobileIron, AirWatch, XenMobile, MaaS360, Meraki, InTune.


Esri Apps and MDM Products

MDM products can connect directly to the Apple App Store or Google Play and you can manage and deploy applications to your mobile workforce. Esri apps like Explorer, Collector, Navigator and Workforce support per-app VPN so that you can secure device access to internal resources and reduce the inbound connection to a single app at the same time. When considering how you deploy Esri Apps through your MDM, please note that App wrapping is not supported.


Field Apps and Managed App Configuration

Talking with several customers deploying Esri Apps using an MDM, we are following the guidelines found within the AppConfig community.  Explorer, Collector, and Workforce on the iOS and Android platforms have started including settings that take advantage Managed App Configuration API's for each platform. Implementing the MobileAppConfig on iOS and the Backend Service Configuration on Android, you can now streamline app deployment be allowing your MDM to push down the URL of your ArcGIS Enterprise portal.


Implementing the portalURL key that is of Data Type: String, apps will bypass the Portal URL sign in screen and automatically present the OAuth screen from your portal, easing the sign in process for your field workforce.


With Mobile Iron, the following steps can be used to push the Portal URL (using Explorer for ArcGIS on the iOS platform as the example):

  1. In the Core Admin Portal, go to Policies & Configs and navigate through Configurations > Add New > iOS and OS X > Managed App Config.
  2. Edit the Managed App Configuration with the Name, Description, BundleID and select the external file (PLIST), that contains the App-specific key-value pair configurations required for the app.
    Note: You can find the bundle ID for iOS apps by going to Apps > App Catalog, and clicking the hyperlink to edit the app. The bundle ID resides in the inventory field in parenthesis.
  3. To create the PLIST file, create a text file with the following text (see picture below). Replace the value in the portalURL key (<string>value</string>) with your organizations portal url. Save this file as a “.plist file (ie explorerAppConfig.plist).

Mobile Iron PLIST

Here is how it works with Cisco Meraki, the following steps can be used to push the Portal URL:

  1. On Systems Manager, go to Apps > Add New > iOS app > Add App (Enter “Explorer for ArcGIS”) > Add.
  2. Within the Systems Manager, go to Settings > Add > New Meraki managed profile > Create New Profile > Add settings > Choose an app / Settings (see picture below) > Add Setting.

Meraki Config

If you are using another MDM product, please search their documentation for Managed App Config to find the necessary steps.

Moving forward, we are looking to expose more capabilities that follow the guidelines outlined by the community. 

For more information about Esri's approach to Mobile Application Management, please read our patterns document on the ArcGIS Trust website.  

About the Author
I am the Group Product Engineering Lead for our Field Apps team at Esri. I work with an amazing team building out our field solutions. Please feel free to ask me anything about ArcGIS Field Maps, Workforce, and Navigator.