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Inside Looking Out: An Executive View on Enterprise Mobility with Alan Snyder (revisited)

While I was at Interop this past week, I got to meet up with Alan Snyder.  Alan is the President and CEO of Boxtone, a Maryland based mobility management company.

If you recall, he and I had sat down about 15 months ago to chat about enterprise mobility.  A lot has changed in those 15 months, so I thought it would be time to have Alan back for another edition of Inside Looking Out.

Enterprise Mobility Foundation:  Alan, it’s good to see you again.  Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today…and welcome back to Inside Looking Out.  Looking back on our discussion ~15 months ago, what stands out to you the most in hindsight?

Alan Snyder:  Good to see you too Philippe! The most impressive thing is the speed at which the market is moving and the fact that it continues to accelerate.  The majority of the items that we discussed have already come to pass and the remaining items, such as employee-owned devices, are moving very quickly.  We are seeing significant activity around mobile application development and large scale deployments are already occurring. Tablet devices are getting substantial traction.

EMF: Apple announced recently that its App Store passed the 300k mark, while Android passed 100k.  Even Microsoft’s new platform has reached the 1,000 app mark.  Those are obviously consumer app stores.  Where do you see enterprise app stores playing out?

AS: Any enterprise that is going to allow more than email/PIM on a mobile device is going to need an App Store.  It must be an App Store that works with Device Management and it must work across all devices, including BlackBerry.  The typical scenario is a user’s Device:

  1. Must have Apps X, Y and Z;
  2. May have Apps A, B and C; and
  3. Must Not have Apps L, M and N.

In 1 and 3, you need MDM to load/block the Apps and to make sure that they are always at the proper version level.  In 2, you need an Enterprise App Store to display the App options that are available and handle the procurement and billing of those Apps (free, for fee or subsidized) across all platforms.  The App Store will need to know who you are, what you are allowed/required to have and be able to handle the complexities of users changing roles within the Enterprise.

EMF: While there’s been much talk about mobile enterprise apps, we’re still mostly in a PIM world.  What are the barriers to the adoption of mobile enterprise apps or are we now at the tipping point?

AS: We are at a tipping point today since the mobile Apps being deployed are very successful and will serve as a justification for future investments.  The largest barrier remains the cross platform development dilemma.  All of the current approaches (native apps for each platform, MEAPs and browser based apps) have their own set of costs and tradeoffs that have left many companies stuck in “analysis paralysis.”

As a result, much of the mobile App development is at the extremes of the spectrum — either very simple web based apps or highly specialized Apps.  This is changing rapidly due to the success of the initial Apps which helps drive demand as more and more users expect to have Apps available for both business and personal use.

EMF: Enterprise app stores are probably going to have a mish mosh of consumer and (custom/home grown) business apps.  How does security and data federation get managed?

AS: Security must be a multi-layered approach and I would make a distinction between security and security management.  Security such as encryption, anti-virus, jailbreak/root prevention must be built into the hardware, OS and communication platform (BES, ActiveSync, VPN…).  It must also be built into the Apps that ride on top of the device, OS and platform.  Security Management makes sure that everything is configured appropriately, securely deployed, constantly monitors for security risks and takes action (lock, wipe…) to remove threats and notify the security teams.  As data and applications become federated, it will be critical that security exists at all layers and that security management has visibility to all of those layers.

EMF: So where does governance, risk and compliance (GRC) fit in all this?

AS: More Apps means that there will be more sensitive data on devices and in the network.  GRC must get baked in at the beginning, which is why you see the current market focus on MDM.  But it must also be part of the entire mobility lifecycle.  The mobile device is going to be a very dynamic work space and it is going to change dramatically over the next few years.  Not only will you have an individual constantly updating and changing their mobile environment (configurations settings, apps, usage), but you will see more shared devices such as Point of Sale / Care terminals.  So while the initial configuration and provisioning of the device will remain important, if you don’t also address configuration, security, support and service quality on an ongoing basis you will never be able to handle governance, risk and compliance.

EMF: I can’t not ask you about the Cloud.  How important will the Cloud be in the mobile context?  Why?

AS: Mobility and cloud services are two sides of the same coin.  They are ready made for each other since you have a resource constrained device that connects to a resource abundant cloud.  Furthermore, you will have multiple devices per person / entity that will need data constantly synchronized across all devices.  I believe that in very short order more than 50% of the endpoints connected to cloud based services will be mobile devices.  In the end it will all come back to the same issue (as it should):Service Quality.  How effectively companies put together the delivery system (cloud, applications, networks, devices, platforms…) to deliver a high quality end-user experience will make the difference between the winners and losers for both cloud and mobility players.

EMF: Last but not least, we started today’s discussion by looking 12-15 months back.  What’s the hottest issue you expect to see in enterprise mobility in the coming 12-15 months?

AS: There are three big waves that are about to hit and then several “rising tide” scenarios that are much more powerful, but are occurring on a more gradual basis.

  1. There will be a torrent of iOS4 MDM solutions deployed in the Enterprise in Q1-Q2 of 2011. That will lead to two subsequent waves:
  2. One related to the ongoing operational / service desk support for the iOS devices; and
  3. One related to App development and deployment for all devices.

It continues to amaze me that Enterprises are not planning for the operational support challenges of mobile devices and are only looking at the initial security and configuration.  They must remember that mobile devices are being deployed because people want access to information and expect them to work at all times.  Security is a means to an end, not the end itself.  The larger “rising tide” trends are Employee-owned devices, cross platform deployments and mobility shifting from an inwardly focused employee productivity tool to an externally focused customer/partner transaction model.

Well there you have it.  Thanks Alan, for taking the time once again to chat with me about your views on enterprise mobility.  If interested, you can connect with Alan here.  Do you know anyone who should be a guest here on Inside Looking Out?  Drop us a line.

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