Five steps for simplifying enterprise mobility management
These are challenging times for CIOs. The growth of mobile and rise in remote and home working are placing enterprises under intense pressure to open up access to centralised mission-critical applications and systems full of sensitive data for a globally distributed workforce from their own personal devices, from any location.
For CIOs, it is no longer a question of just saying no because BYOD is already here. It’s now about managing BYOD in a way that is simple and secure while giving users what they need without the IT department ever losing sight of what is being accessed, by whom, when and where from.
There’s certainly no shortage of vendor solutions claiming to provide secure connectivity between traditional back-end systems and end user devices. For most enterprises, however it’s a complex picture. In addition to cloud and virtual applications, most organisations also have end users that need access to Windows legacy environments. CIOs can take steps to simplify matters and score some quick, easy wins on the road to virtualised management of everything from legacy systems to enterprise mobility.
You can't manage what you don't measure
The old management adage is especially relevant when it comes to managing large scale virtualised and enterprise mobility deployments. IT administrators need to be able to tell at-a-glance how many concurrent users they have at any given moment. Without the right information at their fingertips, they cannot know whether they have enough licences, whether there are spikes in demand at particular times of the day or whether there is any unusual connectivity in the middle of the night.
The first thing an effective virtualised management solution must have is built-in analytics. It has to be capable of providing the IT department with comprehensive real-time insights into matters like user productivity, system workload and connectivity issues in just a few clicks. It should also be possible to import and export the data for turning into actionable business intelligence.
Scalability should know no limits
Scalability has been repeatedly called out as a limitation of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions. Even some of the leading vendors such as Citrix and VMware can struggle to support more than 5,000 concurrent users per an access management server. Yet the scale of a business can increase dramatically over a short period of time. Facebook is a good real-world example.
When Facebook launched, it very quickly grew from a small number of university members to a global phenomenon with a user-base of millions. Today it has more than 1.3 billion users globally. It illustrates how unpredictable an organisation’s need for high scalability can be. Factors such as the need to enable agile data centre transformation or to accommodate natural growth and acquisitions and mergers can also have a radical impact on an organisation’s ability to scale quickly.
In such cases having a platform with limited scalability could actually prove costly long-term. With this in mind enterprises as well as SMBs need the flexibility to scale to 100,000 concurrent users and beyond with agility in either direction at a moment’s notice.
Browser-based applications delivery
One of the main benefits of HTML5-based remote access management software in a Windows environment is that any Windows application can effectively become “webified” or “cloudified.” In an enterprise mobility context, it means that any device can access any Windows application from anywhere simply via the browser without the need for any modifications to the application itself. With the right access software you can simply install the application on a host machine, either on premise or in the cloud. In this way, it’s possible to transform even legacy applications into Web Apps.
A second big advantage with this approach is how easy it is to install, configure, deploy and manage. Users too can have secure access to any role-appropriate corporate app via their browser without the need for software on their device. Since all processing occurs in the data centre, there is no need for company sensitive data to ever be transferred to the client. Not only does this make it easy for employees to learn and use but from an IT admin perspective whole enterprise mobility programs can be deployed in a few hours, even minutes, rather than days or weeks.
Centralised security and group management
There are a couple more benefits that stem from keeping all the processing at the back-end. First, allowing IT admins to manage and back up all files centrally is far more secure than asking them to keep control of corporate data that is distributed across hundreds of different devices.
If any end-user device is lost or stolen, the data is still behind the firewall and not on that person’s mobile. The second valuable management property arising from this approach is the ability to group applications and users together centrally according to their active directory listing. Groups, or individuals, can be managed with specific policies. For instance the ability to cut and paste from documents can be disabled if accessed via devices that are not certified as corporate owned or do not comply with company policy.
Open and fully customisable
Finally, it is always an advantage for any enterprise mobility platform to be hypervisor-agnostic. Such an open approach means it can work with other virtualisation platforms, support heterogeneous environments and avoids any possibility of vendor lock-in further down the line. It also helps if the look and feel is fully customisable. A mobile environment that looks and behaves exactly like the incumbent one helps to encourage rapid, wide-reaching uptake among employees.
Increased use of mobile and new, flexible ways of working are forcing IT departments to urgently review their desktop strategy to make sure it is still fit-for-purpose for 21st century business. The market is crowded with many and varied approaches to solving this problem but no one solution is yet able to lay claim to being a truly comprehensive, one size fits all approach.
However, by taking the five steps discussed, CIOs can quickly and easily implement a bridge from incumbent physical infrastructures to full enterprise mobility and buy time to completely transform the desktop estate at their own pace.
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