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IT shops take many tacks with mobile-first strategies

There are a number of paths to enterprise mobility, and in many cases, EMM takes a backseat to apps.

SAN DIEGO —Mobile-first strategies take many forms in organizations and for some, that process isn't defined by device management.

Some in IT focus more on enabling users through app security, some bring different kinds of in-house apps to users and still others prioritize secure authentication through identity management no matter what device requests access to apps and data.

In these scenarios, enterprise mobility management (EMM)compliments an overarching mobile-first strategy to enable users to get work done where they want, when they want.

During sessions at the Gartner Catalyst Conference here, IT professionals explained their mobile-first strategies beyond EMM.

Zurich Insurance Ltd., based in its namesake city in Switzerland, uses device management from MobileIron Inc. for its 15,000 devices.

MobileIron gives Zurich Insurance device security, but its concerns go beyond mobile device management (MDM), said Andy Stone, global head of information security and architecture at Zurich Insurance.

"I'm not concerned about the device anymore," Stone said. "It's an afterthought. I'm concerned about the apps and data on the device."

Zurich Insurance has an extended base of enterprise users, from brokers and dealers to agents and customers. The company also has many contractors and transient workers who previously were given laptops and VPN access to applications at great cost to the company, Stone said. That's when enabling mobile access for those workers, and everyone else at Zurich Insurance, came into focus.

"We started to think about offering key bits of functionality of some of these apps compared to a full app people may or may not even use," Stone said.

Technology from Mocana Corp. of San Francisco and its Atlas platform gives Zurich Insurance a container where mobile apps can be accessed through single-sign on. Mocana also manages user access over several different directories across the organization.

You don't have to be dependent on MDM any longer.
Andy StoneZurich Insurance

"You don't have to be dependent on MDM any longer," Stone said. "You can deploy an application in a secure fashion and trust that it's secure."

App development, IAM part of mobile first

Qualcomm, a global semiconductor company based in San Diego, similarly uses EMM for employee devices through AirWatch by VMware. But like Zurich Insurance, device management isn't what drives a mobile-first strategy.

Instead, the company aggressively pursues a strategy around its portfolio of over 60 different apps its employees can utilize to get work done. Many of the apps are developed in-house using a mix of native, HTML5 and hybrid approaches, said Louis Sacco, Qualcomm's principal IT engineer.

Qualcomm finds that responsive Web design works for Web content on multiple device sizes, hybrid apps for perpetual authentication and push notifications, and native apps for the most graphics-intense apps.

For example, two years ago Qualcomm launched an internal app, Qualcomm Mobile Qpeople, which allows users to browse information on other employees and find details on company buildings and rooms. The app gets over 1,500 unique users per month and was designed as a mobile Web app first before being wrapped as a hybrid app for inclusion on Qualcomm's app store, Sacco said.

"You have to choose the right tool for the job," Sacco said.

Others build their mobile-first deployments around identity and access management. Esri Inc., which creates geographical information systems technology, goes this route with Okta Inc. of San Francisco. It uses Okta Mobile to connect users with apps including SAP, Salesforce1 and Box securely, said Dan Abushanab, Esri's CIO.

Esri is also beginning the process of rolling out Okta's EMM platform, Okta Mobility Management, to employee devices, Abushanab said.

For use on Okta Mobile, apps must be accessible on the Internet, and with third-party cloud apps that's usually simple, Abushanab said. For on-premises apps, Esri takes advantage of a cloud authentication system from Okta to get those apps accessible for use.

If users are on Esri's network, they don't have to go through two-factor authentication to get into the apps within Okta Mobile, but if they're not on Esri's network, they do.

"As long as your applications work well from a mobile perspective, the authentication into them also works well," he said.

Jake O'Donnell is site editor for SearchMobileComputing.com. Email him at jodonnell@techtarget.com or follow him on Twitter at @JakeODonnell_TT.

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