Circa 2003: I needed to print sensitive corporate data for a client meeting the next morning. Those files were stored on a remote corporate server. I logged on to a company desktop, connected to the corporate LAN and printed the files. The next morning, I realized I got the wrong versions. I hurried back to the office, logged on to the desktop and printed the correct files. I barely made it in time for the client meeting and forgot my glasses in the cab as I reviewed the content on the way. Around this time, BlackBerry launched their first smartphones capable of email and web surfing. By the end of 2003, mobile Internet users were virtually nonexistent.
Circa June 2007: Enter Steve Jobs with the iPhone, which completely redefined smartphones as pocket-sized mini-computers. By the end of 2007, there were 400 million mobile internet users globally.
Today (2014): Got a smartphone…check. Got a tablet…check. Got iOS and Android devices…check and check. Setup office applications on them…done. Need to look up corporate files? Wait a minute…and done! Today, there are more than 1.5 billion mobile internet users in the world and very soon they will surpass the internet users on desktops.
Since 2007: the adoption of internet-capable smartphones has been stupendous. Almost every corporate employee today owns a smartphone for personal and/or office use. Mobile access to corporate information boosts business productivity (except when you are busy checking Facebook). This in turn helps increase job satisfaction of employees and keeps the company agile and responsive to business needs on the go. This is the essence of workforce mobility. But, in order to be future-proof, let’s not misunderstand mobility as the mere use of mobile phones to access data. The definition of “mobile” in this context should entail any computing device, capable of wireless data communication, that moves around with you (i.e. smartphone, tablet, smart watch, or google glass — if that ever takes off). And, who knows we may have the “smart paper” coming up soon.
This proliferation of mobile devices, in volume and in platform diversity, increases the challenges for IT management. The higher the number of endpoints that access enterprise data, the greater is the exposure to security risks.
The rapid adoption of mobile devices drives two important trends for the IT management staff, namely:
1. Mobile Device Management (MDM) – Controlling and managing company owned mobile devices provided to employees
2. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – Controlling the enterprise data access on employee’s personal mobile devices
These two capabilities together are often referred to as Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM). To stay modern and current with the latest technology access, a company’s IT policy has to evolve to support these trends.
MDM has been around since the smartphones from BlackBerry were introduced in the market a decade ago. It entails complete control of the data, applications and device functionality by the company. It is a logical extension of the approach companies have adopted over the years to manage desktops, servers and laptops. But the lack of an integrated solution to treat these mobile devices as “just another IT asset” (at a high level) puts tremendous strain on the IT management staff to enforce IT polices consistently on these distributed diverse mobile endpoints. This is particularly important as the definition of mobile devices gets expanded – e.g. wearable gadgets, which may become all-pervasive in the future.
Additionally, with the advent of all-powerful smartphones, employees are now demanding access to corporate data and applications on their personal mobile devices too. But they do not want the corporate IT guys controlling the non-corporate stuff that goes on their personal devices. This trend for BYOD is strongest among the millennials entering the workforce. IT managers have a real challenge pivoting their corporate policy to manage data instead of managing devices. Maintaining a fine balance between corporate control and freedom of personal use should not be an art, but a logical and simplified process using a robust integrated solution such as Kaseya’s Enterprise Mobility Management. Such a solution should allow IT admins to:
- Command centrally and manage remotely for simplified and efficient IT management of the mobile workforce.
- Redefine the logical end point to be the device data and not the device itself so that security is enforced by managing data, not devices. This is possible by building secure “containers” to isolate corporate data from personal data on the mobile devices, which can be encrypted and/or wiped off without touching the personal data on the device.
- Enforce strong policy management and support through Active Directory/ LDAP integration.
- Unified endpoint management experience by allowing management of all mobile devices and other IT assets through a single pane of glass.
- Simplify mobile application management which typically includes maintaining app catalogs for blocked apps, mandatory apps, inventory of installed apps and ability to push enterprise apps remotely.
- Ensure encryption and security of enterprise data at every step including while at rest on the device, as well as during transmission between the device and enterprise servers.
In summary, the mobile adoption is booming and it mandates the IT management to evolve too. This is possible only through a robust, integrated IT management solution that enables unified endpoint management for mobile devices.