Controlling the sheer number and diversity of mobile devices in the workplace, ensuring data security, and combining social media with business processes represent some of the ways that social media has become an integral part of consumer and business technology. The increasing prevalence of a mobile workforce—laptop, smartphone, and tablet users—face a unique set of issues. These include how to incorporate the devices which rely strongly on cloud processing into the workplace.
It’s important to note that cloud computing and mobile computing are parallel developments and in some ways mutually exclusive. In "regular" mobile computing, applications run on a mobile device in native mode, with the application and data all stored on the device. In contrast, mobile cloud computing applications run on servers that reside in the cloud. Application data also lives in the cloud and results are fed back to the mobile device via an over-the-air network such as 3G or 4G to access apps and data via the browser on their mobile devices. Many companies currently implement cloud to provide information access to the increasing number of multiple devices. computing
However, these companies face similar issues. A primary one is security. An increasing number of IT departments understand the need to manage and track the growing proliferation. Recent research by Nemertes Research indicates that IT departments have achieved a high level of success implementing mobile device management (MDM), and the statistic is the same (4.0 on a 5.0 scale) for the number of small business IT teams planning future MDM platform implementation. Because data (and some applications) move between mobile devices and the cloud via off-premises networks, security is a major consideration. But application development and device management are also extremely important. How organizations approach each of these issues will greatly affect the usability of the mobile cloud.
According to Jeff Deacon, director of corporate strategy at Verizon (News - Alert) Business, “In most organizations today, mobile devices are coming in straight across the Internet, and this is not a good idea. If you poke a hole in your firewall for access from a mobile device you have effectively poked a hole in your firewall for anyone in the world. Securing a gateway specific to mobile devices that can support various operating systems -- iOS, Android (News - Alert), Windows -- is very important." Yet it’s become an accepted fact that bringing your own device to work (BYOD) has its advantages, such as user comfort, social media access for business tasks, and near 24/7 responsiveness all translate to increased user productivity. Another statistic offered by Nemertes indicates that 88 percent of employees are permitted personal use of a company device. The expectation is that employees are adults and will adhere to corporate guidelines when using their devices.
However, this usage of devices in the workplace, that is the consumerization of IT, also presents a range of new issues. The increased use of smart devices in the workplace poses significant control and support problems for IT. Data security is a central issue because corporate information can be compromised through lost or stolen technology. Mobile devices, especially laptops, also increase the possibility of malware infiltrations and viruses that can quickly spread throughout a network. Moreover, rampant device disorganization requires an already overextended IT to systematize and monitor an ever-expanding range of devices.
Kamesh Pemmaraju, an analyst at the Sand Hill Group, says, “Mobile will act to accelerate corporate cloud adoption. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) also opens up a whole can of worms with respect to security. The question is how do you make sure that these apps are secure and, when they get downloaded to the device, that they don't accidentally get lost or get into the wrong hands? A hacker could grab the app itself as it's being downloaded to the device, or intercept just the data going back and forth between the cloud and the device. All of this has to be centrally administered, managed and provisioned. This is where the mobile cloud comes in.”
A mobile cloud would rely on the security of the phone to allow users to get into the app, but then authenticate themselves against a back-end security system. The issues that need to be ironed out are the different approaches and requirements that both manufacturers and IT teams have with regard to mobile computing and the mobile cloud.
Edited by Stefanie Mosca