SaaS Conference Report: Managing the Mobile Work Force using MaaS

Abstract

On April 1st, I attended a SaaS Conference talk by Jim Sheward, CEO of Fiberlink, on the topic of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS). I found it provocative and of vital interest to IT managers that are having great difficulting managing a mobile work force. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is the delivery of enterprise mobility infrastructure using a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform where the programs run on servers that are reached via the public Internet. Specifically, MaaS is a "cloud" based, always on, Enterprise Mobility Platform™ with cost advantages, ubiquitous mobile device connectivity capability and a real-time updating and enforcement software engine. A MaaS platform enables users to be singularly connected while having anywhere access to their applications and data while the business has everywhere control of it’s users, devices, applications, and data.

What’s the Risk?

There is enormous risk in how IT managers handle mobility. Estimates are that mobile IT operations costs are very high and getting more expensive. Mobility is also a risk, because valuable or proprietary company information can be compromised. For example, last year there were over 600K laptops lost at U.S. airports. Additionally, 160K handsets were left in taxicabs. 37% of smart phone users store company confidential business data on their phones. And 40% of companies don’t have a viable security policy for mobile workers. Many users do NOT use a VPN to access the Internet, but do so directly via their mobile PCs or handsets. That heightens the risk that sensitive information may be ciphoned off by computer criminals. Moreover, IT Department totally loses control of mobile workers that are directly accessing the Internet. There appears to be an urgent need to re-architect corporate management and control functions to more effectively provide mobility services to workers on the move.

With over 50% of companies in North America expecting over half of their employees to be using mobile PCs by 2013 and nearly a quarter expecting more than half of their employees to be using smart phones in the next five years as well, mobility has emerged as a key area to benefit from the shift away from enterprise resident software to Software-as-a-Service. Mobility management appears to be well suited for a cloud-based service approach, because an Internet-based architecture is the only way to support and control mobile users who spend more time on the Internet than on the corporate network.

IT Operational Challenges for the mobile workforce

These challenges include:

  • Control of Identity and access to networks and applications
  • Endpoint and data Security
  • Policy Compliance
  • Inventory Management
  • Operations and help desk
  • Backup of files and applications

Mobility Management in the Cloud

Mobility is well suited for a cloud-based service approach. This is because an Internet-based architecture is the only way to support and control mobile users no matter where they are, including outside the traditional corporate network. MaaS has become a natural evolution, as the Internet has effectively become the corporate network.

There have been other approaches and models to connecting, protecting and controlling mobile enterprise users but all have failed in one form or fashion. Clients, endpoint agents, and single purpose security applications integrated with a connection client have all fallen short of delivering binary, provable control of laptops, smart devices, blackberries, i Phones and the rest of the mobile device strata. As a service-based solution approach, Mobility as a Service is the only credible operational model to cost effectively and continually control employees, their devices and their data.

Fiberlink’s MaaS Solution

Fiberlink is a well recognized mobility expert and the world’s foremost provider of "Mobility as a Service": on-demand services that help enterprises connect, control and secure laptops and mobile devices. For more information, please see:

http://www.fiberlink.com/fiberlink/en-US/products/mobilityAsAService/

The foundation of Fiberlink’s solutions is a software platform that manages the security and connectivity services on mobile and remote devices. The MaaS360 Mobility Platform allows administrators to deploy, monitor, update, and remediate a wide variety of endpoint security and connectivity applications, and to enforce compliance with corporate policies. The MaaS360 Mobility Platform also allows enterprises to implement Mobile NAC, Fiberlink’s Network Access Control solution for the mobile workforce.

Fiberlink’s MaaS Platform™ enables mobile workers to connect quickly and easily from anywhere in the world to the Internet and to the applications they need. Networking groups and IT can use the MaaS Platform and its components to:

  • Perform identity management and authentication services.
  • Deploy, monitor and manage security and connectivity applications on laptops and PCs across the globe.
  • View detailed information on compliance status, security events and connectivity costs.
  • Protect mobile devices – and the data they carry – from loss, theft, data leakage, hackers, and viruses.

Fiberlink’s endeavors to ensure that mobile data is always secure, that mobile workers can be productive anytime, anywhere, and that IT professionals can evolve from network police to facilitators of worker productivity. Fiberlink provides a universal connectivity client and an aggregated virtual network that provides Internet connectivity through over 100,000 access points across 150 countries. Mobile and remote employees enjoy one-click connectivity using all major network types – including dial-up, broadband, Wi-Fi, and wide-area wireless. The company also provides services to: manage endpoint security, data protection, and endpoint control applications on mobile and remote devices. These applications are designed to keep the corporate network and mobile endpoints safe from unwanted intruders and attacks, as well as mitigate the risk of lost or stolen assets.

According to Mr. Sheward, Fiberlink’s customers have reduced the cost of supporting mobile workers, simplified IT management, increased employee productivity, and improved data security. An impressive set of credentials for a nascent market that offers great potential for future growth.

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