Today the enterprise office space is at most sort of a “home base” for employees. The days of a permanent cubicle, with a desktop computer and POTS phone, seem archaic. It is a very dynamic situation, and as the IDC 2009-2013 forecast points out, a remarkable 72 percent of employees are mobile today, some even working out of their homes and on the road entirely.
Not only are employees mobile and working in dynamic environments, they are connecting to the corporate network using two or three different devices. The new Mobile Workforce survey reports that nearly 97 percent of mobile employees carry two or more mobile devices, and almost 50 percent carry three or more. Many are personal devices and not corporate-liable or corporate-approved devices.
IT is challenged to balance the need to protect corporate data and network security, yet allow the mobile workforce to access corporate data and applications from any device at any time. How can IT best manage this environment? Here are five tips:
1 – Virtualize the desktops and applications in the data center and make the interface available from a browser on any device – BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC, tablet PC, laptop, or netbook.
2 – Require users to access applications inside the virtual desktop. This has two primary benefits. First, the enterprise makes available the most current corporate-approved applications and second, the employee is required to use network storage, helping keep sensitive data within the company.
3 – Focus on the applications, especially those in the cloud. Anyone can access the cloud with any mobile device connected to the Internet. This device-agnostic combination of cloud computing and ubiquitous access is in itself a powerful enabler for business. Gartner believes cloud computing and the mobile web are becoming the primary enterprise IT strategy.
4 – Integrate security at the device level. Require a trusted digital certificate to be installed on any system accessing VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) sessions to ensure that the person accessing the virtual desktop is doing so from a trusted device. This is in addition to the basic security of access controls (i.e., passwords) and the VDI portal URL to access a virtual desktop.
5 – Plan for the future. Says one systems integrator, “While users can access virtual desktops, it's not very functional to try to put a desktop on the screen of an iPhone. However, using the iPad's Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology, users can opt to connect a wireless standard keyboard to tablets. Smartphone manufacturers see the potential of selling devices as thin-client nodes for VDI. In the next few years, many intend to add HDMI ports for connectivity to flat-screen TV monitors; that and a wireless keyboard coupled with 4G network access will turn the smartphone into a road warrior's dream.”