Q&A: Managing Endpoints and Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are just one of a number of assets that must be managed. Fortunately, the cloud can help.

Mobile devices are just one of a number of assets that must be managed. To learn more about the current state of security management, we turned to Dave Hansen, CEO of Numara Cloud, whose company offers a set of integrated solutions for managing cloud IT operations. According to Hansen, mobile devices are rapidly becoming one of the most important company assets to manage, but they're just one piece of the pie. Other endpoint devices – whether physical, virtual, or mobile -- must also be managed, and thankfully the cloud can help.

Enterprise Strategies: Five years ago, you were the CIO of CA Technologies. A lot has changed since then. What new challenges do IT executives face today?

Dave Hansen: Today’s CIO faces a range of challenges, such as managing mobile device proliferation in the enterprise, tech-savvy end users using their mobile devices for new activities, and maintaining network security. The consumerization of IT has become one of the biggest challenges faced by CIOs and IT departments struggling just to keep up and find new ways to manage and secure the various devices within the company.

In this day and age, with the overwhelming adoption of mobile device technologies, what you don’t know can and will hurt your company. Employees are demanding the same access to the network from their smartphones as they do from their company-owned PCs. It’s critical that CIOs and IT departments are aware of every single device accessing the network. Without proper control, sensitive company data can be accessed, corporate secrets revealed, and inappropriate content downloaded, opening the door to viruses and malware, all of which seriously jeopardize the security of the network and company as a whole. IT must enforce policies, but at the same time give users the freedom to take advantage of new technology. What results is a very large management burden placed on the IT department.

What approaches do you recommend for solving issues related to the consumerization of IT? What strategies can IT implement and how can they benefit from these?

The key to addressing these challenges is not attempting to fight the oncoming tide. Ignoring the importance of emerging technology and employees’ desire for it, or refusing to support any platform, is a recipe for failure because consumer demand will eventually become too great to ignore. Instead, today’s CIO must get up to speed, step outside of their comfort zone, and embrace the proliferation of technology through an integrated approach. Accepting the emergence of new technologies and identifying the risks, particularly related to mobile device security, is crucial, and an integrated approach is critical to mitigate these risks.

Integrated endpoint management allows IT to manage any device using any operating system in any location, all on a single pane of glass. Endpoint lifecycle management software not only makes IT processes easier, it increases the company’s productivity overall. If managed correctly, mobile device proliferation can and will lead to increased end-user productivity and greater end-user happiness.

How are new (and varied) mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops affecting end point management?

While mobile devices add convenience for end users, they create new issues for IT. For starters, mobile equipment is simply more difficult to keep track of than items such as desktop computers. IT always has the option to physically check a desktop, but this is often impossible with mobile devices. By operating outside the office environment, mobile devices also remove a layer of security, making networks more vulnerable.

Then there are performance and cost issues: Employees on mobile devices can rack up enormous roaming charges if left unregulated, and they may experience slow performance due to data backhauling, especially if they are travelling internationally. For companies with permanent overseas offices, this can mean adding servers or utilizing third-party data centers. Finally, service providers and regulations concerning mobile devices vary from country to country, which further complicates contracts and compliance for global companies.

How do you recommend IT departments solve these issues?

CIOs must handle mobile proliferation by broadening their efforts to encompass endpoint management; this includes more than just mobile devices: for example, CIOs must address laptops, servers, and printers. In other words, CIOs would be wise to view mobile device management as just one important component of endpoint lifecycle management. IT now demands an integrated approach that supports every device, everywhere.

One way to accomplish this, as I mentioned before, is through integrated operations management software. Some integrated endpoint management programs will even display all varieties of devices and software on a single screen, allowing IT to stay ahead of issues and efficiently roll out updates. Leveraging the power of the cloud is also a viable option to help IT departments solve these issues and achieve automation. The cloud is a cost-effective, on-demand solution that, if used properly, can solve a number of business challenges and help you manage all your physical, virtual, and mobile IT business alignment needs.

It’s important for organizations to keep in mind, however, that before the power of the cloud can be realized, IT must integrate all processes and solutions. Once this is done, IT and business objectives can be aligned and the cloud can help IT reduce costs, increase productivity, and manage a dispersed workforce.

Can you share some examples of best practices that you think IT departments should put in place?

First and foremost, CIOs need to invest in an integrated endpoint lifecycle management solution. Without this type of strategy in place, they’re exposing their company to serious risks. This strategy should outline the process for obtaining, managing, and servicing not just mobile devices but all other endpoint devices including servers, printers, etc., as well as applications and services. IT administrators need to establish, communicate and potentially enforce end user guidelines for appropriate use, roaming limits, and service desk availability.

What products or services does Numara offer for mobile management?

To address mobile management, Numara Cloud offers Numara Cloud Mobile Device Manager, part of a family of integrated cloud solutions. The service is one of four solutions available through Numara Cloud. Numara’s cloud-based mobile device management service provides IT the necessary control to securely manage mobile devices throughout their entire life cycle.

As mobile proliferation continues in the enterprise, IT managers must have mobile strategies to manage and secure devices and avoid potential security breaches. Numara Cloud Mobile Device Manager provides IT administrators with inventory, configuration and security management as well as monitoring, backup, and recovery capabilities. The service leverages the cloud to ensure that mobile devices, critical data and the corporate network are secured from security threats, while at the same time relieving the IT department of the need to manually manage and secure data and devices.

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