An admin's guide to mobile application security and delivery
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Now that your smartphone is also your camera, calendar and garage door opener, it should be no surprise that there is a wide array of enterprise apps for mobile devices. Mobile devices have the processing power and the storage to support productivity apps, collaboration and remote desktop access programs. The products mentioned here are representative of the enterprise apps available on the market, but this list is by no means comprehensive.
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The apps are grouped into six categories: productivity, collaboration, remote access, security, social networking and news and information.
Smartphones and tablets in the enterprise
Part 1: It’s a business smartphone! It’s an enterprise tablet! It’s a consumer device!
Part 2: BYOD policy basics: Defining and enforcing a successful policy
Part 3: Enterprise apps help consumer devices go corporate
Part 4: Personal devices on enterprise networks change IT’s role
Tablets may not replace laptops in most business-use cases, but there is plenty of overlap in what they both can do. For essential word processing, presentation and spreadsheet enterprise apps, look to Apple’s Pages, Keynote and Numbers for iPad users. For Android users, Documents To Go by DataViz and Quickoffice Pro from Mobile Systems are two suites in the productivity apps category.
If you need a quick diagram, process flow or website wireframe, turn to productivity apps such as the Omni Group’s OmniGraffle for the iPad and SillyCube’s Smart Diagram Pro for the Android platform. When you need to read and annotate PDF documents, try Yuri Selukoff’s GoodReader for the iPad and Unidocs Inc.’s ezPDF Reader for Android devices.
If you need access to enterprise apps, there is a good chance you can find productivity apps for that. For example, you can review business intelligence reports using SAP’s BusinessObjects Explorer for the iPad, MicroStrategy Inc.’s Mobile Intelligence for Android and iPad as well as Penthao’s BI-Android Console.
No worker is an island, so social collaboration systems are essential to employees’ day-to-day activities. For example, good file-sharing enterprise apps can let employees stop using email for business file sharing. Dropbox and Box file-sharing services have clients for the iPad and Android. For SharePoint users, SouthLabs SharePoint Mobile Client for iPad and SharePlus-SharePoint Client for Android bring calendars, documents and task lists to mobile devices.
Remote access apps
Even with the advanced functionality of today’s tablets and smartphones, sometimes you need access to a full workstation or server. Two widely used protocols are Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) for Windows and Virtual Network Computing (VNC) for Unix and Linux.
Wyse Technology Inc. offers PocketCloud Remote RDP/VNC for access to Windows or Mac OS from the Android and iPad/iPhone platforms. RealVNC Ltd.’s VNCViewer for Android provides remote access to Mac OS X, Windows or Linux servers running VNC-compatible server software. When you need access to a command line, Better Terminal Emulator from MagicAndroidApps can bring a Linux terminal to your mobile device.
Mobile devices need security controls, but security apps can also improve the security of other systems. Antivirus software is not always welcome on mobile devices because of the extra load on the processor and battery. If you decide to use antivirus on your mobile devices, you have several options. Major security vendors such as McAfee, Kaspersky and Norton have mobile device products. Some offer features not available on desktop versions, such as functions to block unwanted calls and Short Message Service messages, remotely disable a device, and locate a device on Google Maps.
Smartphones can eliminate the need to carry a secure token for generating onetime passwords. Security apps such as RSA SecurID now offer software versions of their tokens that run on Android devices and iPhones.
Smartphones might also help eliminate the unsecure practice of writing passwords down and leaving them in obvious places. Password manger security apps such as mSeven Software LLC’s mSecure-Password Manager, Illium Software’s e-Wallet, and Acendo Inc.’s DataVault and Password Manager all enable phones to store passwords.
Social networking apps
Social networking is an important business tool, and mobile devices are well designed to make the most of social networking enterprise apps. Of course, there are mobile apps for all the usual suspects: Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter. Basic clients are available for free for the most popular services, and more feature-rich clients, such as Tweetbot by Tapbots and MyPad+ for Facebook and Twitter from Loytr Inc., are available as well.
News and information apps
Keeping up with changes in markets and technology requires access to a variety of information sources. Zite and Flipboard are personalized magazines for the iPhone and iPad, as is Pulse, which is available on both Android and iOS platforms. The Kindle app for iPhone, iPad and Android provides access to Amazon’s selection of e-books. Audible Inc.’s free Audible app turns a device into an audiobook device. If you just want to borrow a book, try OverDrive Media’s Console to get e-books and audiobooks from your library.
About the Author
Dan Sullivan, M.S., is an author, systems architect and consultant with over 20 years of IT experience with engagements in advanced analytics, systems architecture, database design, enterprise security and business intelligence.