Mobile device management and the future of enterprise mobility.

Tom Badders
June 21, 2016 • 4 min read

Secure mobility integration is an art as well as a science.

Technologies are developed to solve problems.

Wi-Fi technology enabled wired networks and resources to be extended to areas where wires could not go. It allowed applications such as inventory warehousing, and aircraft and vehicle maintenance to be performed at the point of service.  Significant efficiencies and cost savings were achieved through the implementation of the Wi-Fi technology.

Cellular technology, along with smartphones and tablets, has enabled ubiquitous access to the internet.  It allowed person-to-person access for voice, data, video, as well as allowing access to corporate resources such as enterprise email.  This, of course, revealed another set of problems to be solved.

As you see, it is a perpetual game of cat and mouse; as technologies are created to address a problem, the list of problems to be solved continues to grow.  Nice for technology vendors, but not so nice for those who need robust, secure solutions for mobility and connectivity — like a senior executive on an international trip, a financial advisor communicating with a client, a doctor sharing sensitive patient information with a specialist, or a deployed soldier needing to access critical mission information.

Many technology solutions chasing many mobility problems.

Seeing the importance of solving these problems, network manufacturers began integrating mobile device onboarding and policy management capabilities into their switches, routers, mobility controllers, and other components.  At the same time, mobile device manufacturers began integrating mobile security and management features into their devices.

Mobile device management (MDM) technologies were developed to solve the challenges of enabling and securing cellular access to critical resources over the internet and protecting the data on the mobile device as well as the identity of the user in the case of loss or device failure.  Next came MAM (mobile applications management) and MCM (mobile content management), all evolving into EMM — enterprise mobile management — which has become the buzzword of the day.

One primary problem that has yet to be addressed: how do you integrate these technologies into an easy-to-use solution that ensures interoperability of devices and transmission media for seamless roaming and connectivity without having to re-authenticate every time you change from 4g/LTE to Wi-Fi or vice versa?  Phew, that’s a hard one!  …or is it?

Secure mobility — giving customers what they really want.

What if technology isn’t the problem? In other words, what if there are plenty of technologies available to solve these problems, but the problems still exist…what then?  You would go to the source – the customer.  What does the customer want?  What if the answer to the customer’s requirement is technology integration, technology interoperability, and the security of that combined solution?

Secure mobility — integrating wireless and security technologies — is an art as well as a science.  Turning multiple wireless networks into a single mobile enterprise meets customers’ requirements.  Very specific technologies and processes are used in Wi-Fi networks to secure the onboarding, policy management and network access for mobile devices.  Similar technologies and processes perform the same functions for smartphones and tablets via cellular/4G/LTE networks.  These MDM technologies for smartphones and tablets go a few steps further.  They have capabilities that manage the device itself – from containerizing applications, providing jailbreak protection, auto-wiping for lost or disabled devices, mobile device threat detection, and more.

The key to integrating these two networks and making them interoperable and secure is the ability to authenticate on one network (the cellular network through MDM) and not have to re-authenticate when the device roams to the Wi-Fi network.  Wireless LAN manufacturers have developed capabilities in their wireless network access solutions – such as Aruba’s ClearPass and Cisco’s Integrated Services Engine – that provide the hooks to interface with MDM and Blackberry authentication platforms.  If integrated properly, the customers get what they want – a fully integrated, interoperable and secure enterprise mobility network.

Integration, interoperability, and security are the key factors in deploying a successful mobile enterprise.  Of course, keeping up with the ever-evolving needs of the customer as well as new technologies that give the customer more capabilities will ensure the continued growth of the mobile ecosystem.  As this ecosystem expands, security will continue to be the most important criterion to meet.

Tom Badders
Senior Product Manager
Tom Badders is a Senior Product Manager at Telos Corporation.
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