The word mobility brings to mind certain things, such as phones, tablets, and mobile workers. In many instances, it also brings to mind the need for a mobile device management (MDM) solution, but there is much more to consider when thinking of a holistic mobility solution.
This blog post is the first in a short series describing the various components necessary for a comprehensive mobility solution. I’m going to briefly describe some of the key aspects required. Later posts in the series will peel back those layers to show their importance and the options available to manage them.
The first question that one needs to ask is “Why?” Put another way, what is the purpose of mobility? Generally, mobility securely enables employees to perform their jobs from a variety of locations using a variety of devices. To expand that definition:
- For employees to perform their jobs remotely, a company needs to provide access to applications and corporate data. Access to applications and content must be adequately protected to ensure compliance with licensing or regulatory concerns, as well as to secure access to confidential company data.
- The definition of a mobile or remote worker means they work from a variety of locations.
- Mobile workers will be most productive when allowed to work using a variety of devices, depending on task or location.
Mobility can be a powerful tool that enables a company to better serve customers while fostering higher levels of employee satisfaction and productivity.
Interconnection of Mobility Components
A mobility solution consists of several closely interrelated pieces. Obviously, mobile devices are included. This could be a combination of business or personally owned laptops, tablets or phones, encompassing Windows, Android and iOS. These devices run applications that access company data. At the center of this is the mobile worker who must authenticate to access the company applications and data.
Management of Devices and Applications
MDM and mobile application management (MAM) apply company-specific policies to the devices and applications in a mobility solution. These policies help ensure that proper security is in place on the devices and applications that are accessing company data.
Various conditions such as device state, location, risk, user sensitivity or application sensitivity can trigger policy conditions that would allow or block access to an application/data or require multifactor authorization before allowing access.
Applications and Client Virtualization
A mobility solution typically utilizes a variety of application types including Software as a Service (SaaS) apps, web apps, virtual applications and virtual desktops. Each of these has a purpose and a place in a comprehensive mobility solution. With that said, there is not a “one size fits all” application type. Some situations allow for the use of a SaaS app, while other scenarios might require that company data never be stored on a mobile device, which would then require the use of a virtual application solution.
Data Access and Protection
Protecting company data must be a strong component of any holistic mobility solution. Mobile users will be accessing proprietary information from a wide range of devices and locations, so it is very important to protect data when it is stored on the device and when it transfers to/from the device. This protection will be a combination of encryption on the device as well as protection at the file level to prevent data leakage. MDM/MAM policies play a significant role in this protection. These policies determine the actions a user is allowed to perform.
User identity and authentication are inherent to the use of mobile devices running applications to access company data. Identity and authentication are, in many ways, the glue that binds the mobility components into a solid solution. They control access to applications and data and are used by the MDM/MAM policy. The authentication process could be as simple as a name and password, or MDM/MAM policy might require that a third authentication component (multifactor authentication) be utilized.
Future posts in this series will break down each of those components to uncover what is required to enable the mobile worker to be productive while also protecting company assets.
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