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Taming the Mobile

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As more and more employees bring their own devices to work, enterprises are turning to mobile device management solutions. But is MDM enough to deal with all the issues of security and complexity? Read on

“The world is being re-shaped by the convergence of social, mobile, cloud, big data, community and other powerful forces. The combination of these technologies unlocks an incredible opportunity to connect everything together in a new way and is dramatically transforming the way we live and work, a famous quote by Marc Benioff, founder and chairman of sums up the current day scenario in enterprises. Though the widespread adoption of mobile devices in enterprises has unleashed gains in terms of productivity and at some point windfall cost savings too, at the same time it has posed numerous challenges as well.

According to a study done by Citrix in association with Zinnov, though enterprise mobility use cases are fast emerging, still less than 50% of the enterprises today have defined enterprise mobility strategy of any form. Security and data breach, integration issues with existing business solutions and higher perceived costs remain the key inhibitors for rapid enterprise mobility adoption. However, it is increasingly being realised by the enterprises that defining a well-planned approach towards enterprise mobility deployments can gain maximum user acceptance, reduce time to RoI as well as mitigate security concerns.

In any case, there has been an unprecedented growth in mobile devices over the last year and today, smart phones outsell PCs and mobile computers are spreading faster than any other consumer technology in history. In fact, industry research suggests that 50% of organisations in India will adopt BYOD strategies by 2017.

According to a recent Forbes study, 90% of CIOs expect to deploy more than 25 mobile apps in 2014 and mobile application development projects will outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of 4-to-1 by 2015. Vendors are queuing up to tap into the business opportunity.

Current enterprise mobility scenario
Borderless and 24×7 communications are pivotal for businesses today. A dynamic enterprise needs cost-effective, user-friendly solutions that keep employees and partners connected at all times while balancing its total cost of ownership (TCO). However, for many enterprises, the increase in mobile working has been almost entirely spontaneous and unsystematic and in addition, the fast growing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is setting a powerful idea.

“In the coming years, we speculate a big adoption level of BYOD by organisations. There is a rise in need to connect with inter-departments and to offices located in different cities. For instance, an automobile company would take up the mobility solution to get connected with their several dealers or their partner offices. So we see, tremendous or exponential growth of  the enterprise mobility market in India,says Naveen Chopra, Director, Vodafone Business Services.

According to a report titled ‘Enterprise Mobility: Building Tomorrow’s Enterprise’, released by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), in association with Deloitte, the global enterprise mobility (EM) market opportunity is expected to be $140 billion by the year 2020, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 15% and the key factor driving this increased adoption of enterprise mobility across organisations is consumerisation of ITed by the abundance of smart devices at affordable prices, among others.

In the current scenario, enterprise mobility has become a key focus area for companies of all sizes. Businesses are facing aggressive competition, volatile customer loyalty, and rapid market changes in India and all over the world. More and more businesses are opting for mobile solutions to enjoy benefits like better efficiency and customer experience (as well as to improve their RoI). Business is being done in a different way today, more through social media instead of email. Basically, demand was always there but has just got some momentum now,says  Vic Mankotia, VP, Solution Strategy, Asia Pacific & Japan, CA Technologies.

It is because of this demand that with a diverse device ecosystem and growth in mobilisation, security issues with regards to corporate data will also rise up, so this is where the role of mobile device management solution comes in, which  helps the decision makers manage the fleet of devices and make the data residing on these handsets secure.

If we notice the demand for mobility has gone up in past couple of years owing to the cheap availability of Android-based devices, besides other factors. Also, this sudden surge in demand for enterprise mobility stems from the fact that businesses need to make decisions 24×7 and mobility enables availability of data on real-time basis.

One of the best reasons so far for this sudden hype around mobility is that it reduces the time for the information availability, provides users with up-to-date reference material and automates processes, which enables customers to perform activities efficiently. Also, enterprise mobility takes advantage of highly interactive content to engage customers better through assisted selling.

No matter how many benefits are listed in favour of mobility, it still throws up a number of issues in front of the IT department to handle. To begin with, security is the biggest challenge that most organisations are still coping to deal with. For the IT staff, they have to not just ensure that there is no theft of data, but also no spilling over of personal data into official data and vice-verse. Also, solving the mobile security problem with the same processes they used for laptops and PCs, tactics such as endpoint protection software, policy enforcement, password complexity and even data leak prevention software don’t work when your company doesn’t own the device (BYOD) or has to deal with hundreds of versions of mobile operating systems.

This is where a mobile device management (MDM) solution comes handy. MDM software vendors promise to enforce security policies, block employees from installing malicious apps and even encrypt data. But MDM is still a young technology and there is no one single vendor, who has a dominance in the market. Most of the vendors offering MDM solution are either legacy security vendors or start-ups focused entirely on mobile.

Popular MDM tools and apps
Enterprise mobility is a wide canvas, where MDM plays a crucial role. Though there is less than 15% adoption in India, according to some experts, yet MDM is gaining some strong ground. Basically, now the focus of companies is shifting to the app management. Given the fact, employees don’t want their employers to snoop around their phones, companies are now increasingly adopting a solution that not only does mobile management but also manages content as well as apps for them,explains Seemant Chaudhry, Director – Enterprise Mobility & Transformation, Citrix.

New solutions offer richer features to store/encrypt data on the device. Technologies such as Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) offer secure communication between devices and are very popular. Mobile analytics suite is another tool that CIOs use to have an in-depth analysis on the usage pattern,says Girish Dhanakshirur, STSM, IBM Master Inventor – IBM Mobile Platform Development.

When we talk about applications, CIOs are generally looking for apps that can drive their business. That means applications that are focused on enhancing the productivity of all the people in the business. It also means apps that enhance the customer experience and deliver increased lifetime value and ones that can be easily deployed, securely and with minimal disruption. Some of the popular app deployments are around Sales Force Automation, CRM, ERP, Collection Management Applications and Inventory Management Applications. The mobilisation of such applications have become the need of the hour for the CIO and are essential to any organisation which has large field force.

“Most CIOs prefer CRM, Workforce Management, Warehousing, Distribution, executive dashboard and Service Automation on their mobiles. One has to understand that enterprise mobility is all about exposing data on personal devices. They are looking for solutions that would maintain security and at the same time fall within the gambit of the centralised policy,asserts Venkatesan Janakiraman, Head of Mobility – Solutions, R&D and Architecture, Virtusa.

What CIOs want
A majority CIOs prefer to use one of the following MDM solutions: AirWatch, BoxTone, Citrix, Fiberlink, Good Technology, MobileIron, SAP or Sybase and Zenprise. Questions that most CIOs ask the vendors are around how best can they secure the device, manage the upgrade, enforce policies, remote wipe sensitive data and lock the device in case of theft etc.

Basically, CIOs are looking for an MDM solution that would not only address the most common worries, but also do much more like in BYOD environments how isolated the enterprise app and its contents are. Can MDM address data leak, i.e. if a employee-owned device is jail broken or rooted, can a malicious app access enterprise data stored in the enterprise app? Can the company implement copy protect so that data cannot be copied to clipboard? VPN is another concern that CIOs would like MDM to address. CIOs are looking for app-level VPN so that only the enterprise app has access to company data. Finally, is it future proof as the MDM capability within the OS are being upgraded rapidly. For example, iOS 7 introduced a whole slew of new capabilities for MDM, will a vendor adapt quickly and release an upgrade soon? These are some of the concerns voiced by CIOs.

As mobile devices become a preferred channel to share information and access corporate applications, CIOs are looking for a mobile platform that seamlessly integrates with their current enterprise IT infrastructure, and enables them to expose their enterprise data and applications both on-premise and on cloud in a secure and standard way, regardless of the user interface that people choose to surf those applications. They also want a truly multichannel development platform. Rather than continuing to develop applications first for the desktop and then making tactical mobile development choices, IT leaders are on the lookout for a consistent architecture that considers all channels – web, mobile, etc,says Andy Chow, Senior Director, Solution and Technology Architects, Oracle Asia Pacific.

“Mobility platforms such as iOS, Android, Windows and various handsets present a fragmented technology place. A good example is Android with multiple devices from multiple OEMs running heterogeneous OS versions. Lack of standardisation and emergence of new possibilities is a continuous challenge to enterprises. For example, choosing the right mobile OS to build the mobile application on, choosing the right MDM platform to ensure security etc. A recommended approach is to adopt solutions that help manage the heterogeneity of devices, OSs and applications,says Chopra of Vodafone, who looks after the company’s IT needs besides heading the business services division.

Implementation challenges
In a recent survey, 41% CIOs cited that securing corporate information on mobile devices is their biggest concern. The challenge revolves around how to ensure data privacy, authorised use of corporate applications and approved storage of corporate data on a personal device. IT also needs to ensure that critical information is wiped clean remotely in case the device is stolen or the employee leaves the organisation.

Jagran Prakashan’s, Sarbani Bhatia who is Vice President – IT, says that they were looking for a solution that would provide the company with a dynamic, secure, and intuitive self-service enterprise portal to improve staff productivity and ensure business continuity. He wanted this solution to offer seamless integration with multiple enterprise applications, including mobile applications to improve work-flow efficiency and increase business agility. Since we were already using Oracle Database, Enterprise Edition with Real Application Clusters and had a positive experience with Oracle, we chose Oracle WebCenter Portal to ensure no compatibility issues for integration with our existing Oracle products and to take advantage of the experience and support of a reputable vendor to ensure business continuity,she says.

Oracle’s mobile platform helped address the challenge of the newspaper organisation by enabling IT department to easily connect mobile applications to existing access-management services, using a single-sign-on. They can set policies governing how to access enterprise services from mobile devices and system administrators can trace each device and examine usage patterns to detect suspicious behaviour,explains Chow of Oracle.

The second challenge facing enterprises is how to integrate mobile applications with enterprise data and services both on premise and on cloud. About 31% CIOs in a survey cite this as a concern. Mobile applications communicate with back-end applications through standard web services.

The third biggest challenge facing CIOs is how to support multiple personal devices in an enterprise. Almost 28% CIOs in the survey are looking for solutions to address this concern. Chow claims that the mobile application framework of Oracle helps address this challenge because it is based on the popular Java and HTML 5 based environments. The architecture’s design enables developers to easily build and deploy apps on multiple operating systems with support for various form factors such as smartphones and tablets.

Interoperability is yet another issue which CIOs are faced with. There are two issues when we talk about interoperability interoperability between different mobile device OSs (iOS, Android, WP, BB, etc.) and interoperablity between phones and desktops. The first one is achieved by what is known as cross platform mobile platforms. In this, we have vendors such as IBM Worklight that offer such a capability. Then there’s an open source community, called, Apache Cordova. Basically, these technologies abstract device-specific APIs and offer uniform APIs for web developers.

In any case, integrating mobile applications with enterprise data and services  both on premise and on cloud, is a major challenge faced by organisations. It is important that mobile applications communicate with back-end applications through standard web services. For example, Oracle SOA and Oracle Service Bus allow enterprises to easily expose enterprise applications and data as virtual services and enable web services and RESTful API connections with them. This allows developers to leverage their existing application and integration infrastructure as part of a highly reusable and scalable development and integration platform.

Security issues
As we talk about enterprise mobility, the first thing that pops into any CIO’s mind is breach of security in the enterprise network. One has to understand that the challenge lies at how we implement BYOD while maintaining control of the network security. As more personal devices connect to corporate network, securing corporate data becomes critical,says  Sreedhar Venkatraman Director, Sales Engineering, India & SAARC, Avaya.

But since organisations do not own the device, they need to have security solutions that safeguards access to enterprise applications without interfering with how people use their devices for personal use such as playing games or sharing photos. “We at Oracle propose Mobile Application Management (MAM) instead of Mobile Device Management (MDM). Using a technique called containerisation, the Oracle Mobile Security Suite creates a secure workspace in which corporate applications, email, and data are stored,asserts Chow.

Organisations need to support BYOD with a combination of BYOD security, authentication, networking, and policies. For effective BYOD and data protection, some of the key elements required are admission control, access control, highly secure DC, DB security, Network DLP, virtualisation etc. There is no denying that the pre-existing security policies and processes would need to undergo an overhaul in a consumerised IT environment. Apart from this, there are different implementation level challenges that need to be addressed to ensure successful deployment of BYOD in an enterprise,says Srinivasa Boggaram, Team Lead Pre Sales – India and SAARC, McAfee.

Boggaram further adds that organisations should not expect one single solution to help secure BYOD on an end to end basis. “BYOD needs to be looked at from different dimensions like data loss prevention, authentication system, internal intrusion prevention systems, internal firewalls, securing wi-fi, network admission control etc.  On top of all, it is the internal IT policy which should be detailed and fool-proof to drive the initiative and guide effectively and prevent failure of specific tools”, he explains.

VDI as an option?
Virtual desktop interface or VDI is fast emerging as the second best option to tackle enterprise mobility and the issues related to it. With VDI, users can access and edit data remotely, over a network, from a hand-held device, with the security and usage comfort levels optimised. VDI can help in mitigating the challenges related to enterprise mobility in numerous ways. From being more secure as flow of content can be managed, to being more cost effective, VDI is fast catching up with enterprises as an alternative choice.

“No data used in a VDI session persists on the concerned mobile device. Because of VDI, we can ensure that even if the mobile devices are lost or stolen, the data remains unaffected and securely guarded behind corporate firewalls. Also, the management can become more efficient and costs can be reduced.
This is because on one hand, desktops are consolidated and centralised at one location, while on the other, end users can enjoy mobility and freedom in terms of usage (anywhere, anytime and from any device),says Ashish Kumar Pradhan Subject Matter Expert, Mobility, Mindtree.
Basically, VDI ensures a smooth usability experience across devices belonging to different computing platforms. It facilitates the entire data to be stored in one central repository, so that the users do not have to synchronise or replicate it on individual devices.

Way forward
Enterprise mobility is here to stay and will go over a number of makeovers. Security in mobile apps will continue to play a key role. Another issue would be around reducing the TCO while supporting the plethora of devices. Finally, the BYOD adoption will increase only if the apps offer a compelling reason to use – i.e. new innovative ways using all the capabilities in the app. Device vendors, such as, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia will continue to innovate and add rich hardware capabilities in the phone (biometric, finger print, NFC, etc.). Enterprises will have to be agile to adopt these and release innovative applications to their users. As the line between personal and business use of devices gets blurred, Mobile Application Management (MAM) and Mobile Content Management (MCM) will gain popularity alongside MDM solutions. Goal of MDM, BYOD and other enterprise mobility solutions will shift from functional implementation to generating ROI.

Case Study : Jagran Prakashan

Jagran Prakashan Limited (JPL), India’s premier media and communications group, that publishes the Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, wanted to provide its employees dynamic, secure and intuitive self-service enterprise portal to improve staff productivity and ensure business continuity. JPL was using multiple systems to manage its business processes. Users were resistant to use multiple passwords for various applications; preferring to continue their less efficient, legacy work practices.

In addition, there was no single repository for sharing documents across the organisation, such as company announcements or project documents. The company relied on e-mail to disseminate up-to-date company information, often missing employees. It was also time-consuming and difficult for managers to track the status of ongoing assignments or projects, because collaboration and document sharing were inefficient and ineffective.

With diverse businesses and many geographic locations, JPL needed to implement a centralised and user-friendly enterprise portal to improve the document sharing and collaboration, and increase business agility.

The company implemented the Oracle WebCenter Portal to create a dynamic, secure, and intuitive self-service enterprise portal to improve the user experience and increase the operating efficiency. It improved staff productivity by 40%, accelerated new IT projects by up to four times, boosted staff morale, and increased business agility.

By integrating WebCenter Portal seamlessly with its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and other applications, such as the organisational mass mailing system, business intelligence, and management information system, JPL embedded its approval work-flow processes into the enterprise portal and provided users with an integrated and intuitive interface. About 30% of JPL’s sales staff members now have tablets and receive advertising discount approval from managers while on the field. This has significantly improved efficiency and increased business agility.

The portal allowed users to navigate, discover, and access information, such as advertising rates, requisition approvals, ad-hoc queries, and employee surveys from a single entry point with a single password. Managers can also upload important documents, such as new pricing for advertisers or newspaper distributors, and share them through the information and instruction section in the portal. In addition, managers can now easily track and review timelines for projects online rather than gathering information from meetings and e-mails. With the deployment, the company gained the ability to centrally manage the information, ensured business continuity, and improved staff productivity by 40%.

Case study: Thermax
Thermax, a Pune-based engineering solutions company, was saddled with legacy infrastructure in the form of traditional desktops. While the company was growing steadily, the IT infrastructure was lagging behind. “Some of our traditional desktops had been in use for more than five-six years, and could not cope with new operating systems. This would have prevented Thermax from leveraging new technology”, says a spokesperson from Thermax Ltd.

The other challenge faced by the company was that of security and control. As per the company spokesperson, being an engineering company, Thermax’s core intellectual property is engineering drawings. “These drawings have to be stored, protected and managed centrally. Similarly, as we bid for projects, we can’t afford leaks. Securing such data was a big challenge we faced,” he says.

The company debated whether to replace 1,000-1,500 PCs in one go five years down the line, or explore a rather new phenomena called desktop virtualisation as a credible option.

Thermax deployed IBM servers with 10 eight-core CPUs, and two six-core CPUs. The company has 30 Terabytes of NAS storage and 6 Terabytes of SAN storage. For its storage infrastructure, Thermax went for the latest Storwize v7000, which is known in the industry for its technology on realtime compression and storage virtualisation.

After deciding to deploy Citrix XenDesktop, the company had 750 people live on the Citrix’s solution. The biggest advantage that the company had due to this shift was that it became BYOD ready.

Explains the Thermax spokesperson, “The biggest advantage of the deployment has been that my organisation has now become BYOD (bring your own device) ready. Today, we have about 20 tablet users who log in from anywhere. Such anytime- anywhere access has enormously improved the company’s decision-making. With the success of this project, we are seriously contemplating not to give desktops or laptops to our employees from now on. They can bring their own computers and tablets to work. I am less worried about the security issues now.”

The solution also gave Thermax the advantage of managing data centrally, thereby giving it the power of enhanced security and control.

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