Turning enterprise mobility from a threat to an opportunity

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Continuing our theme on

managing and securing mobile devices

it’s time for organisations to take a wider view of what mobility could enable them to achieve, but they’ll need a broad suite of products to achieve their goals, says Ram Varadarajan, senior vice president and general manager at CA Technologies.

Are IT vendors doing enough to help customers deal with all of the issues raised by enterprise mobility? At software giant CA Technologies, Ram Varadarajan, senior vice president and general manager, thinks not. At best, he says, most suppliers can only help customers to tackle a small handful of challenges. Few, he adds, have an end-to-end

enterprise mobility

story to tell. Above all, most IT suppliers treat enterprise mobility simply as a

threat to be managed

, rather than an opportunity for customers to find lucrative new ways of doing business.

The goal, then, of bringing to market a “mobility fabric” that enables customers to take a more comprehensive approach to enterprise mobility management is one that has occupied some of CA Technologies’ most experienced engineering minds for some time now, says Varadarajan - and he claims that the company is now in a better position to tell this end-to-end story than any other IT supplier.

Technology.info sat down with Ram Varadarajan, to discuss CA’s enterprise mobility management (EMM) journey to date and learn more about where the vendor stands today.

Q: As I recall, CA Technologies announced back in April 2013 that it would partner with SAP to offer CA customers licenses for SAP’s Afaria mobile device management (MDM) product - so what’s changed since then?

A: It’s a good question and, in order to answer it, I need to take a step back. The fact is that, when we announced that partnership at CA World in April last year, we already knew that our EMM strategy needed to go further in order to really help customers handle mobility challenges. MDM, while important, was only ever going to be part of the picture. Today, MDM is table stakes for a software vendor and, for customers, it’s like packing a toothbrush for a trip. We need to offer MDM and customers need to have it, but they need a lot more other things as well. The battleground has changed, and to truly help customers, we must help them manage and secure content and applications, too. So when it came to providing the rest of the picture, we decided that was something we wanted to do ourselves, by building new products through an organic software development process.

Q: And where are you today when it comes to delivering those extra products?

A: Well, at this year’s Mobile World Congress in February, we were ready to announce our full Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) suite. The SAP Afaria products are there, under the name CA Mobile Device Management - but there are three new products within the wider suite. These are CA Mobile Application Management, CA Mobile Content Management and CA Mobile Email Management.

With CA Mobile Application Management, an IT manager can configure a policy by selecting a user (or group of users), assigning them access to an app (or group of apps), and then applying policies as to where and when that access is granted. With CA Mobile Content Management, the focus is more on documents, enabling the company to apply policies to define user and group access to files spread across disparate in-company repositories. With CA Mobile Email Management, email is wrapped in a policy-based layer of

encryption and access

control that is compatible with existing email clients, including public, web-based systems such as Gmail.

Q: Four distinct products, then - but is there a governing principle that unites the four?

A: Absolutely - and it’s all about achieving a rich user experience that increases productivity, while also satisfying corporate security standards. Our thinking was that what matters most to employees with mobile devices is ease of use. They expect security to be taken care of by their employer, but they don’t want that security to get in the way of how they want to use their device.

It’s a really tough engineering problem to solve, but I believe we’ve achieved it through our concept of ‘Smart Containerisation’. This is a patent-pending technology which works in a different way from the ‘sandboxing’ often seen in other mobile management products. There, corporate work takes place in a ‘walled garden’ away from personal apps and information - but, to my mind, that gets in the way of usability.

Smart Container, by contrast, is designed to identify sensitive corporate data, based on company policies, and only encrypt that data or require extra authentication for users to access it. Other, less confidential data, can be accessed in a more straightforward way. It’s about recognising that some company data simply doesn’t need to have barriers put up around it - but, at the same time, some does. So if you’re at the office, using your employer’s own Wi-Fi network, Smart Containerisation means that you can access pretty much whatever you like, as long as you’re authorised to do so. But if you’re working in a local coffee shop, you might be required to authenticate in order to access certain types of information and use a secure VPN [virtual private network] link. In this way, through Smart Containerisation’s understanding of sensitivities around certain types of data, employees still get a rich user experience and employers ensure they stick closely to corporate security policies.

Q: The four products within the CA EMM suite, as you describe them, do much to tackle the issues around employees and their mobile devices and

apps

- but is there more to the story than this? What about the needs of in-house mobile apps developers, for example?

A: Yes, that’s very important in this end-to-end picture too. At the same time as we announced CA’s EMM suite, we announced two other products: CA Mobile DevOps, which aims to tackle exactly this issue, by making it easier to build and test mobile applications and better understand their performance in production; and CA Enterprise IoT, where the goal is to enable businesses to deploy internet connected devices and sensors, and then manage the machine-to-machine communications that pass between them and to and from back-end systems. Together with the EMM suite already discussed, these two extra products make up what we call the CA Management Cloud for Mobility.

It’s our belief that companies should be thinking about mobility as an opportunity, rather than a threat. With this suite of products, customers have the freedom to innovate, drive productivity and develop new mobile products and services - all capabilities that are necessary in order to monetise that opportunity.

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