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Beyond email: The evolution of enterprise mobility
A few years ago when people spoke about enterprise mobility generally all that was meant was providing users with the ability to use corporate email on their mobile devices. In its simplest form, perhaps it was just Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, and for more advanced deployments it included some form of mobile device management (MDM) that could enforce passcodes and other restrictions across the whole device. However, the mobility landscape has now changed and we have to deal with a much more complex environment, higher user demands and expectations, a wider variety of mobile devices, fragmented operating systems and more acronyms!
The fundamental MDM functions of passcode policy, asset management and remote wipe and lock, for example, still have an important part to play in the new complex environment, but this now just forms part of an overall solution that also includes:
Combine all of these functions (and sometimes more), and we get to enterprise mobility management (EMM), which is an area companies need to have a strategic plan for in order to ensure they don’t get left behind in the fast-changing mobile world.
While each area poses its own challenges, it is accepted that the biggest challenge and concern for companies deploying mobile devices—one that spans pretty much all of them—is security. By their nature mobile devices are less secure than traditional computers and are far more susceptible to being lost or stolen. In the UK, the Metropolitan Police indicate that over 300 phones are stolen each day in London alone!
In order to minimize the risks there are a number of features that should be part of any EMM strategy and infrastructure planning in order to ensure a successful outcome. These include the following:
This is a very important decision as not all devices are created equal! This is particularly true with Google Android based devices where there can be significant differences in supported EMM features across different manufacturers and different OS versions. This can be a particular concern in bring your own device (BYOD) scenarios where the company does not have direct control over the devices. Unfortunately it may be necessary to say no to certain device types or specify a minimum set of device requirements that must be met in order to qualify for access to the corporate mobility program.
Mobile email management (MEM)
What started in most cases as straight Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) has now evolved into a more comprehensive solution. Most deployments now will include a new EMM managed email gateway server or proxy through which the mobile devices will connect, and the EAS server is no longer directly accessible. This provides some key advantages, including the ability to control who is accessing the email, what device is being used and perhaps, more important, the ability to block access should any compliance issue arise. In addition, this function can control and manage attachments as they pass through, including options such as stripping completely or encrypting.
Mobile content management (MCM)
In order to be productive on their mobile devices users need access to their content. This may include email attachments, as mentioned above, that would need to be encrypted or other corporate content from a repository such as Microsoft Sharepoint. The correct EMM solution will provide features to address key concerns around content management, including the following:
Encrypt the content in transit and at rest.
Apply access control to ensure that only authorized users get access to their relevant content.
Maintain the ability to revoke content from a user’s device if required.
Mobile application management (MAM)
Managing applications on the device can range from a relatively straightforward blacklist to creating and deploying full bespoke enterprise applications. The MAM function also ties in with MEM and MCM when it comes to controls on what apps can be used to open certain content. This is important as opening corporate content in an unauthorized app could potentially lead to data loss. The EMM solution will provide the capability to control this “open in” functionality and using relevant software development kits can fully integrate applications into the system, providing a much more secure mobile solution.
Telecom expense management (TEM)
While slightly different to the other EMM elements, TEM should also be a key part of the solution. As the user migrates to use the mobile device as the primary device this becomes more critical, because the amount of data will typically increase through the use of mobile content and mobile apps. One key requirement of TEM is to be proactive in monitoring the data and voice call usage against a given plan and provide timely warnings as thresholds are reached in order to prevent the dreaded bill shock at the end of the month!
We have only just touched on some of the elements in preparing for a mobility strategy, and if it all seems a little overwhelming then there is good news: IBM can help! IBM has extensive experience in this area from consulting services on strategy to application development to fully managed services. See the IBM MobileFirst website for further information and case studies. We can help you make the right decisions to provide a first class mobility solution for your company.