Mobile-specific management solutions: Mobile management, Part IV

Mobile management solutions that allow IT organizations to effectively deliver mobile enterprise services to mobile users are discussed in this tip.

Mobility is a complex thing, and delivering mobile services, especially enterprise services, to mobile devices presents numerous challenges. But services are the point, because the role of corporate IT departments is to provide services to end users. In the case of mobile services, effective delivery requires effective management.

When we talk about mobile enterprise services, we mean several different things, including:

  • Messaging in the form of text, multimedia, instant messaging and email.

     

  • Collaboration with co-workers, document sharing and online meetings.

     

  • Access to enterprise applications -- first-generation mobility case studies have focused primarily on CRM and SFA .

     

  • Secure connectivity in the form of virtual private networks, roaming agreements and consolidated dialers for a plethora of broadband services.

     

  • Communications services that include the corporate telephone network, voicemail, reduced number dialing and IP telephony.

These are some of the many types of mobile enterprise services that IT organizations are tasked to effectively deliver to mobile users.

Management first

Delivering services to mobile users and devices requires corporate IT management to have several capabilities, such as:

Asset management: IT management needs to be able to see a mobile device, determine various attributes of that device and track it over time.

Software load: A primary attribute of a mobile device is the software installed on it, including everything from the operating system to version control for the firewall and antivirus software. Since many enterprise services require software to be resident on the mobile device, managing the software load helps to facilitate service delivery.

Corporate Mobile Management Series
Part I: Introduction

Part II: Mobility and enterprise management

Part III: A crisis of architecture and process

Part IV: Mobile-specific management solutions

Part V: Carrier mobile device management approaches in the enterprise  

Part VI: Security, certificates and authentication

Part VII: Policy and process

Part VIII: Best practices for corporate mobile device management
-->
Corporate Mobile Management Series
Part I: Introduction

Part II: Mobility and enterprise management

Part III: A crisis of architecture and process

Part IV: Mobile-specific management solutions

Part V: Carrier mobile device management approaches in the enterprise  

Part VI: Security, certificates and authentication

Part VII: Policy and process

Part VIII: Best practices for corporate mobile device management

Device configuration: In addition to the software installed, mobile devices have numerous settings that define users, permissions and networking settings. For example, IT departments regularly turn off digital cameras and configure Wi-Fi settings.

Security and certificates: Security is a critical aspect of mobility, and IT departments manage mobile device security in several ways. There are the basics of power-on password protection and remote device lock. And then there are certificates and credentials for user authentication (to enterprise networks and resources) and data encryption. Managing mobile device security requires an IT department to be able to inspect the device, update the software load and configure settings.

IT organizations are accustomed to managing their fixed (non-mobile) assets in this manner, and many will say that they expect to do the same with mobility. Fortunately, platforms exist to do precisely these things with mobile devices. The challenges arise in integrating these mobile device management platforms with enterprise management and carrier platforms that perform similar functions. But first, the good news.

The good news
@40315 Mobile device management is – for the most part – integral to key mobile middleware platforms like BlackBerry. However, this series is intended for IT departments that envision a larger range of mobile devices within the enterprise. In those heterogeneous device environments, device management solutions like Sybase iAnywhere's Afaria suit the requirements. Today, Afaria is considered to be the leading device management platform, and with a quick review of its features, we can see why. Remote device lock? Check. Remote device wipe? Check. Power-on password protection? Check. Asset management? Check. Software updating? Check. Device configuration? Check.

There are numerous other mobile device management platforms on the market, and IT organizations would do well to investigate these alternatives. To an IT professional with experience in enterprise management, the features and functionality are familiar and easy to implement.

The bad news
That said, any IT organization implementing a mobile device management solution can resolve a number of challenges today, though several issues will present themselves in the future. Mobile devices do not stand alone, and integration between traditional enterprise and carrier management infrastructures creates a new set of issues.

Within the corporate computing environment, enterprise management and mobility management are two separate platforms. There are numerous reasons for this, but an apt explanation is that much of enterprise mobility (ranked by number of devices) is still PC-based. As laptops replace desktop computers within corporate environments, the vast majority of mobile workers remain on personal computing platforms. It will take several years of continued growth in smartphones and applications-capable mobile phones for the numbers to reach a point where the enterprise management vendors will take notice.

When the time comes, mobile device management platforms will integrate with existing enterprise infrastructures. There will be technical challenges along the way, but the promise is better economies of scale for help desk and support. Many companies currently handle mobility with a separate help desk, and the presence of two different management platforms (mobile and fixed) reinforces the parallel infrastructures for training and support.

The long-term integration of enterprise and mobile management infrastructures is a "bump in the road" in comparison to the impending conflict between enterprises and the mobile operators. The mobile operators subsidize the cost of mobile devices, so they expect to retain the right to manage the software and settings on mobile handsets and smartphones. This has numerous implications for enterprise mobility management, and we will address this topic in the next part of this series on corporate mobility management.

Daniel Taylor
 

About the author: Daniel Taylor is managing director for the Mobile Enterprise Alliance, Inc. (MEA), and he is responsible for global alliance development, programs, marketing and member relations. He brings over fourteen years of high technology experience and is well known as a subject matter expert on many of the aspects of mobility, including wireless data networking, security, enterprise applications and communications services. Prior to the MEA, Dan held a number of product marketing and development positions in the communications industry.


This was first published in July 2007

Dig deeper on Mobile Management Tools

0 comments

Oldest 

Forgot Password?

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

Your password has been sent to:

-ADS BY GOOGLE

SearchConsumerization

SearchNetworking

SearchTelecom

SearchUnifiedCommunications

SearchSecurity

Close