Browsing Posts tagged iOS Devices

There is no doubt that security is one of the key topics raised by customers when discussing their enterprise mobility strategies. One of the first things I would say about mobile security is that good mobile security starts with good overall security. What I mean by that is that mobile security has to be viewed in the greater context of an overall security infrastructure within an enterprise. Why? There are several reasons, but scaling and streamlining management is one, setting a universal set of policies is another (although there needs to be flexibility here), and to address the notion that a security plan is only as good as its weakest link. So you can’t view mobile security in isolation, especially given the current and projected proliferation of these devices and their increasing usage.

From a mobility perspective, many of these discussions start with Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions such as those from Mobile Iron, Good Technology, Sybase, AirWatch, Absolute, JAMF, and others. However, there is also a need to provide secure Mobile File Management (MFM). Just like enterprises need to provide simple and secure file access to their desktop and laptop users, they also need to do that on mobile devices. This means an MFM solution requires several things:

1. Providing encryption in-transit as well as on the device
2. Integrating with existing security infrastructure, such as Active Directory
3. Giving IT the management capabilities to turn functions on/off to meet corporate security policies. For example, the ability to turn on/off the “open in” function.
4. Remote wipe so that the application and its data can be permanently deleted if the device is lost, stolen or compromised.
5. Having control of the file servers/storage resources themselves.
6. Ability to audit both management and user activities.

And there is much more of course but those are some of the basics to think about. If you are interested in hearing more about mobilEcho, we are holding a live demo/webinar/chat on October 12 at 11am Eastern (4pm GMT). The registration is here: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/523964858 . This is a general overview of mobilEcho but highlights many of the enterprise security features as well.

We have been holding monthly webinars and live demos on mobilEcho for a few months now, and we have received a tremendous response (even for what would be considered down months in July and August). One of the things we learned pretty early on is that there is no substitute for seeing the product in action and that is why we these live demo sessions have been so popular (and why we do the 21-day free trial). Our mobilEcho Product Manager, Brian Ulmer, runs through a few quick slides then spends the majority of the time demo’ing the client and management capabilities of mobilEcho. And we answer questions via chat. Hope you can join us.

You can follow me on Twiitter @andersgl and you can follow GroupLogic @grouplogic.

In my last post, I talked about Mobile File Management (MFM) and why I thought it was important (Essentially, it makes up for the lack of an iPad file system, amongst other things). One question that comes up occasionally with our customers is, “how are you different than mobile device management (MDM)? Do I need both?” They are, in fact, very different; addressing very different needs. I would also say that they are very complementary solutions and for an enterprise, they are both core to any enterprise mobility strategy.

Just by way of short definitions. MDM helps organizations to manage, secure and monitor the mobile HW and OS. MFM provide secure and managed access to corporate files and content. I am sure some would quibble over these oversimplified definitions but I am just trying to put a general framework around it. The point is that they are not competitive and address very different customer needs. In discussions with customers we will naturally hear about their use of various MDM vendors such as Mobile Iron, Good Technology, Sybase, AirWatch, Absolute, JAMF, and others.

The point I am making is that as enterprise mobility continues to grow there are a number of core functions that need to be there. Some of them are obvious (ex. Email). Others are not as obvious yet. But it is very clear from the conversations we have with enterprise customers that there needs to be a whole ecosystem of functionality around mobility In other words, a group of core applications that are applicable to just about every enterprise user and organization. This is obviously still evolving although some of the pieces already exist but it is fragmented. My expectation is that enterprises will be looking to address necessary management and security functions in a number of different areas. MDM and MFM are but two critical areas, and from my perspective, they are completely complementary.

 The third in a series of posts on various use cases for mobilEcho we are seeing from our customers.  Next week we will post the fourth piece on collaboration – Anders

Secure Access to Corporate Documents Improves First-Call Resolution and SLA Compliance

Field workers – from asset maintenance to service professionals—have a demand for mobile applications that improve their productivity and provide them with the information required to resolve service issues on the first call, meet SLAs (service level agreements) and track billing, order entry and inventory information accurately. Whether they are responding to reactive maintenance issues or resolving pre-scheduled customer requests, access to customer and equipment information (including history) and time tracking software is critical to efficient and profitable operations.

Today, there are many software providers and platforms that provide robust and configurable productivity applications to field service organizations that help streamline the workflow and capture essential information like customer signatures, time spent and parts used with a host of technologies, from barcode scanning to geo-tagging.

However, field service personnel cannot rely solely on field service applications on iPad, iPhone or other mobile devices to meet every work requirement. Just like every other employee, field workers need access to documents that reside on corporate file servers such as timesheets, marketing materials, equipment manuals, human resources documents, incident reports, and compliance documents to fully meet their day-to-day responsibilities. But, the challenge has been how to provide this access to the mobile workforce in a simple, secure and managed way.

Some personnel will find workarounds to this problem by using consumer synch services. This introduces a host of problems including setting the corporation up for significant security and compliance risk.

The Solution: mobilEcho
As the industry’s first and only Mobile File Management (MFM) software for enterprise iPad users, mobilEcho enables enterprise IT to provide secure access to enterprise file servers. With mobilEcho, enterprises can empower their mobile workforce with all the files – document, spreadsheets, presentations, and other file types – that they require in their day-to-day job functions.

mobilEcho offers a better alternative to custom built mobile applications. Rather than reinventing the wheel, organizations can leverage existing content by making it accessible in minutes to all of their iPad users. It also allows personnel to store documents locally so that they still have access to their files even when they’re offline. Equipment manuals, marketing material, product specs and other critical documents can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Obviously, the end-user benefits from these features, but so does the enterprise. mobilEcho provides the key management and security needs for the enterprise, while also providing a very simple method for participants to access files without any training necessary.

Benefits to Field Service Users:
• Access to critical documents to improve employee productivity.
• Improved collaboration with other LOBs, like sales, inventory management, dispatch and others.
• Access to detailed information on the go that goes beyond the packaged templates of mobile workforce applications.
• Ensures proper security and compliance for sensitive business data.

I watch CNBC just about every morning. Either at the gym, at home or on the road in the hotel. I always find something interesting to take away from it (or at least pass the time on the treadmill). Yesterday they had a gentleman on from Comscore talking about web traffic and where it comes from. The discussion was about US connected device traffic. This is non-computer devices, so smartphones and tablets. 36% of the traffic goes to Android Phones, 24% goes to iPhone, and 22% and iPad. The remainder is a hodge-podge of smartphones and tablets. He also stated that about 97% of all tablet traffic comes from iPads. I am not surprised by these numbers but it astounding to see how much iPad has grown and the market power it as.

The real question is when will other tablets emerge as a viable competitor to iPad? I am no expert on this but it seems to me that the competition has emerged already (RIM Playbook, several Android tablets, and others) and so far seem to be having minimal impact on iPad sales. iPad keeps chugging along and I expect this to continue for some time. I am mostly speaking from an enterprise perspective here where all the conversations we have with customers is about iPad, at least on the tablet side. I keep waiting for a new generation of Android tablets that may perhaps change this dynamic. On the smartphone the dynamic is certainly different. Clearly there is a fair share of Blackberry users still out there. But our discussions are mostly around iPhone and Android. Now admittedly since we are initially targeting iOS devices it’s natural that those are the discussions we get involved in. But we talk to organizations, from the very large to small, and iPad is top of mind in enterprises.

These situations change and certainly competition for iPad will emerge. It just may take a bit longer than many expect. From our point of view, choice is good for customers and our objective is to support customer with whatever device they choose. mobilEcho, and more broadly, Mobile File Management (MFM), is not just about supporting one device but about cross-platform support of heterogeneous device environments.

Anders Lofgren, VP Product Management