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Mobile Device Management in the Cloud

By - Source: Toms IT Pro
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Cloud solutions provide options for companies looking to manage their mobile devices.Cloud solutions provide options for companies looking to manage their mobile devices.

In a time where mobility is central to everything we do, and everyone needs to do everything on the go, we forget to think about the chances of your information being lost or stolen. Cloud solutions provide possible options for companies looking to manage their mobile devices.

A recent study conducted by the Ponemon Institute determined that 51% of the 4,000 organizations surveyed experienced data breaches due to insecure mobile devices. Another study carried out by Kensington concluded that 57% of corporate mobile devices that were lost or stolen did not have any mobile security enabled.  And with 78% of companies who report they plan to have tablets deployed by the end of 2013, mobile management has become a necessity.

Luckily, for many enterprises, adopting mobile device management (MDM) can address a lot of the security issues along with some added benefits.  Cloud solutions, like SAP’s MDM (Afaria 7.0) for example, provide possible options for companies looking to manage their mobile devices.

Such solutions help companies tackle a range of tasks with mobile management.  From setting up VPN or corporate email on a smartphone to added security like data encryption, Afaria can help boost connectivity and security.

Beyond data encryption, Cloud solution provide software delivery and a wide array of applications. Using HR and HCM apps to request time off, financial apps to manage core finances, and travel applications to track expenses, you can handle many of the BI tasks right from your mobile device. With the added security benefit on top of all this, MDM software is essential for any company looking to increase the use of mobile IT.

While everything may sound easy to get up and running, setting up the back-end to get all devices functioning properly and adhering to all policies is actually quite a complex task. So how exactly do you go about setting everything up?

MDM: How It Works

It all starts with a MDM server, sometimes referred to as a control server, that contains all necessary security and group policy information that is sent back and forth to all mobile devices on your corporate network. It functions like a typical client/server model so an agent is initially installed on the phone that will communicate with the MDM server periodically to make sure the mobile device is still compliant and up-to-date.

Once the agent is installed, the user then provisions the phone through URL’s in text messages, emails, or through another way directly from their mobile device. Once the agent downloads whatever is needed from the MDM control server, it will periodically ‘phone home’ to see if anything has changed in terms of software updates and security policies. The agent also collects information like settings, location, calls sent/received, software installed (including version number), and security data and policies.  This may sound like a bad thing, but in reality it’s helping protect all of the important corporate information stored on these devices.

Mobile Security Issues

There are a few things to be cautious of when using MDM software to manage your mobile IT. Whether your company provides the mobile devices or prefers the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) method, it can be hard to manage devices that run completely different operating systems. Additionally, operating systems like iOS and Android can be ‘jailbroken’ or ‘rooted’, which has grown in popularity over the past few years.

Once modified, the devices sometimes stop responding to the MDM server and sometimes even delete the agent, thereby preventing any sort of management from the server side. Since many of these devices contain corporate intellectual property, an effective MDM solution can prevent the devices from working in a corporate environment all together so your information remains protected.

Mobile IT has shifted from being a privilege to a necessity. But with hacker breaches occurring frequently and hitting mobile devices, security is really the big issue. A mobile device management solution will address many of the security problems, and also add.

Sukhmeet Kamboj has been working in IT for six years. He currently works for Secure-24, Inc., an enterprise cloud and IT hosting company where he specializes in writing about the latest IT news, application outsourcing, and SAP cloud computing articles. In his free time he likes to read about the latest Internet and IT trends and participate in autocross and racing events on the weekends.

(Shutterstock cover image credit: Touch Pad Cloud)