The thing about these so-called over-hyped trends, though, is that they really arent. In the build up to the Super Bowl, you will see exhaustive coverage of the Steelers and Packers, and, sure, theres way more hype than Id prefer, even as an expatriate Pittsburgher and rabid Steeler fan. But are those teams really over-hyped when theyre at the top of the NFL heap?
Similarly, cloud computing and mobile get more than their fair share of attention, but on the other hand, investment dollars are flowing into cloud and mobile companies; startups are popping up like weeds, and plenty of incumbents such as Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle and IBM (to name only a few), are betting big on these trends.
One thing much less hyped is that the cloud and mobile are intersecting in many, many places, giving rise to the Mobile Cloud.
How is the mobile cloud different from the cloud? Ask ten different tech experts and youll get ten different answers. Often, the term mobile cloud simply indicates the most common end point accessing a particular cloud, although as the mobile cloud evolves expect some subtle differences in regard to security, back-end infrastructure, app design, etc. to emerge.
Even though the mobile cloud is still in its infancy, here are five things IT should know about the mobile cloud in order to prepare for the future:
IT cant think about things on a node-by-node basis anymore. They must think of resources as aggregate services that they must make securely available to a number of devices, including phones and tablets, said David Link, CEO and co-founder of ScienceLogic, a provider of IT operations and cloud monitoring solutions.
If you walk around any decent-sized cubicle farm, youll find (assuming this isnt a backwards company blocking these things) plenty of people on Facebook, LinkdedIn and Twitter. Some of them will even be using them for work purposes.
In technophilic organizations, youll see people accessing social media and corporate apps from smart phones and tablets. Consumerization isnt something thats coming. Its something thats here.
The demand from employees for iPhones, Androids and tablets places tremendous pressure on IT. In my company, for instance, were getting pressure from our customers to build smartphone and tablet apps for our core applications, Link said. We must deliver functionality from the cloud and implement the support for multiple end devices into our applications. If we werent doing that, wed lose ground to our competitors.
IT has been slow to adjust these changes, so the prospect of a mobile cloud could seem downright horrifying.
However, while the mobile cloud should accelerate the consumerization of IT, this might not be such a bad thing. Done right, the mobile cloud could actually offer IT a path out of the chaos. The mobile cloud could simplify security and limit a number of end-user created headaches.
Apps are vetted. Email is cloud-based and should have some sort of virus and phishing protection behind it. Since the devices by definition roam outside the corporate walls, access control and identity enforcement should be standard. Moreover, enterprise apps accessed via handsets should prevent users from storing data locally, and, perhaps, could even disallow users from making certain types of changes to the data, depending on a number of factors. These factors include how you logged in, how robust your authentication mechanism was and even where exactly you are.
Using built-in GPS, it wouldnt be difficult to limit certain activities to certain places, such as the office, your home office or certain trusted places where you tend to do work like a specific airport lounge.
The invasion of mobile devices into the enterprise is forcing organizations to rethink how they calculate risk. Blanket policies blocking smartphones wont last. If your organization sticks with them, your most tech-savvy employees will find workarounds workarounds that are often less secure than letting IT figure out how to deliver secure mobile access in the first place.
There is risk with everything, said Custie Crampton, VP of Mobile Device Management Technology at Tangoe, a provider of telecom expense and mobile device management solutions. There are risks to opening applications to mobile devices, yet there are risks such as losing top-level talent or falling behind competitors to not embracing mobile devices.