Blackberry Balance: On balance – this is a great solution!

RIM has decided to fight its way back from the abyss through innovation and remembering where it came from.  The new Blackberry 10 smartphone device includes many smart innovations and enhancements, but perhaps the most important feature is one that RIM actually announced some time ago, but really comes in to its own on the Blackberry 10.

This is called Blackberry Balance – it allows the Blackberry device to be compartmentalised into work and play.  If you like, it is a BYOD or COPE (Corporately Owned, Privately Enabled) dream.  The corporate-side of the device allows enterprise mobile applications to operate in a secure environment, with MDM-style remote wipe functions; while the private-side of the device allows the user to add applications, images and content from their private lives and not have to live in fear that their employer will instantaneously remote-wipe their children’s birthday party photos.

While the mass media was busy writing RIM off, RIM has been busy reinventing itself with an almost complete re-write of the Blackberry operating system and now stands an excellent chance of regaining some of the traction and market share that it lost in the enterprise space with a smart new device that looks good and will almost certainly appeal to companies who are looking to allow personal use on mobile devices, but control corporate application and information access.

… and if you were wondering, yes Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution will provide secure access to mobile SharePoint on the Blackberry 10.

Has your enterprise mobility strategy matured beyond providing access to mobile email?

Let’s face it, most of us think about enterprise mobility or BYOD, or even COPE (Corporately Owned, Privately Enabled) as the new way to give an employee the right to use a smartphone or tablet to access corporate email and to use smartphones as … phones.

While email consumes a huge portion of our working lives, it is the ability to access core enterprise systems, that hold corporate content and data, that really make us productive.

Why then, is there so little debate about accessing enterprise applications on mobile devices as part of a corporate mobility or BYOD policy?  Some may argue because enterprise systems have not been designed to be used on a small tablet screen, or smaller smartphone screen; and they would be right.

Then there is the issue of authentication and security.  While many companies sanction the access of corporate email via the native mail clients on iPhones, iPads, Android devices, Windows Phone, etc., there is quite rightly a reticence to be so cavalier about opening up access to core enterprise systems to users on mobile devices.

What applications are candidates for mobile conversion?
Beyond providing access to corporate email on mobile devices, there are a number of enterprise systems that could or should be considered as candidates for ‘mobilization’.  These may be applications that support field-based staff or staff who travel frequently and who need to remain connected to the business when they are not in the office, like CRM systems, Microsoft SharePoint, enterprise social collaboration tools or BI reporting dashboards.

Mobile optimization of enterprise applications
Some enterprise software vendors have already created mobile app versions of their solutions – SAP Sybase is one of the leading players in providing development platforms to do this.  However, there are many more business critical and line of business applications out there that should be made available to mobile users, but are not because they cannot be accessed or cannot be used on a mobile device.

Azurati recently launched a rapid application development platform, called Azurati ASAP® that is similar to SAP Sybase’s mobile development framework, but allows developers to rapidly create secure cross-platform mobile applications from existing enterprise applications.

Azurati also sells a cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution, developed on the Azurati ASAP platform, called SharePoint2Go®.

Sorting out the authentication and security issue
For many companies, enterprise mobility begins and ends with authentication.  It is relatively common for external access to corporate systems to be blocked and will remain so.  For others, there may not have been a compelling reason to open access to corporate systems via the internet; until now.

The explosion in mobile device use is driving the requirement to allow access to corporate systems from these devices.  It is important to note however, that a member of staff trying to access your systems on a tablet or smartphone is essentially the same thing as an external user, as far as security is concerned.

Make sure that the mobile application vendor or solution provider you choose to work with, is able to work with your preferred method of authentication and gaining secure access to your environment.

Supporting your enterprise mobility or BYOD strategy
Announcing a multi-device mobile strategy or free-for-all BYOD policy may be one thing, but if you don’t just mean to allow access to corporate email and voice calls, then you need to ensure that the mobile application solution(s) that you decide to work with are able to support your mobility strategy.

If you decide to standardise on iPads that may be fine; but if you have a more open mobile device policy it is important to check whether your mobile enterprise applications can be accessed as well on an iPad as on an Android smartphone, Windows Phone or Blackberry with a consistent user experience and parity in functionality.

About Azurati
Azurati is a leading enterprise mobile application software vendor, specialising in mobile enterprise applications that can be accessed securely on any smartphone or tablet.

Azurati’s two product offerings are:

  • SharePoint2Go: a secure cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution
  • Azurati ASAP: a rapid application development platform for transforming enterprise applications into secure cross-platform mobile applications

Visit www.azurati.com for more information

COPE – Corporately owned personally enabled: the new wave in enterprise mobility

This article has been reproduced from Mobile Enterprise:

COPE – Corporately Owned, Personally Enabled

As the BYOD conversation begins to dwindle, the discussion will turn to the next wave in mobile trends: COPE (corporate owned, personally enabled). COPE gives both employers and employees the freedom of BYOD, while also offering a slew of benefits to each party.

Corporate Owned
The corporate owned (CO) portion of the COPE policy helps companies keep their networks and information secure, which has become one of the biggest backlashes of the traditional BYOD program in the workplace. CO means that the company still owns the line of service and selects its preferred device and usage cost thresholds for employees to consider.

This kind of ownership grants the company the right to wipe or disconnect devices on the corporate network, and ultimately offers pre-established security, just like the pre-BYOD days.

Personally Enabled
While 77% of BYOD employees dislike the use of MDM on their device, the personally enabled (PE) aspect of COPE allows employees to choose the company-approved device they prefer from a predetermined list, while also enabling them to use it both personally and professionally like with BYOD.

The first step in instituting COPE is for the company to select preferred devices based on what its wireless environment is suited to support. With this approach, a company can select, for example, a Blackberry 9300 at no additional cost. and

If an employee wants an iPhone, then the company only pays a predetermined amount (e.g. “cost threshold”). Employees then pay the remaining amount as outlined in the policy. This can also be implemented in a way that the company doesn’t offer any preferred device, but instead sets only a cost threshold for all users, no matter the device.

Usage costs operate similarly to cost thresholds for devices. Companies choose a predetermined amount they will pay toward usage fees, such as voice minutes, texting, data, multimedia or international plans. Whatever the company does not cover in its cost threshold for usage is the responsibility of the employee. By setting these limits, the company is able to control the outcome of each monthly bill without limiting an employee to a single device or plan.

Coping with COPE

Transitioning to this kind of program might seem like a headache, but MDM outsourcing helps IT departments seamlessly roll out COPE and maintain its features. In addition to working directly on this kind of program, MDM companies, can assist in adding more advanced features, troubleshooting, optimizing bills and handling administration.

Employee and employer benefits are plentiful. COPE doesn’t just offer the feel of a BYOD policy; it truly gives employees the opportunity to customize both their device selection and data plan with the help of their company’s IT budget.

These kinds of plans typically come with discounted offers, but it doesn’t stop there. Employees will also have the support system and help they need from their IT departments and MDM representatives, if companies choose to contract one.

Employers reap benefits all the same. Costs can be controlled and cut by pooling minutes, lowering costs per device, having manageable budgets and offering continual optimization. In some cases, giving employees the ability to customize their plans can ultimately result in productivity outside the office. With COPE, the employer also has control over things like carrier, device preference and MDM capabilities.

Azurati’s take on COPE

It does not matter what device the user is using, the key issue will be about how the user is able to connect to enterprise systems securely on mobile devices; and whether the enterprise system itself is optimized for mobile use.

If an enterprise has deployed Microsoft SharePoint, then Azurati’s SharePoint2Go® solution will provide secure access to mobile optimized SharePoint on any mobile device and without requiring MDM investments.

If employees are looking to access other core enterprise systems that are not optimized for mobile use, then Azurati ASAP® will shorten the development time to deliver secure cross-platform mobile enterprise applications.

visit www.azurati.com for more information.

Deploying Microsoft SharePoint securely on multiple mobile devices

Gartner talks about Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) as being the ‘the most radical shift in client computing since the introduction of the PC’, which if they are right, will fundamentally affect almost every organization and how they provision IT services to employees.

Providing secure access to enterprise systems as part of an enterprise mobility or BYOD strategy may become a significant challenge to overcome for many organizations.  Rory Staunton at industry analysts Strategy Partners, declared during a keynote speech recently, that ‘every enterprise system, from CRM and ERP applications, through to intranets and custom line-of-business applications will be targets for mobile conversion’.

When you look at the most likely candidates for mobilization across the business, you would probably want to select those applications that reach and impact the most number of users and where the greatest return on mobile productivity would be.  Microsoft SharePoint would seem to be amongst the most obvious of candidates, since 69% of the 65,000 organizations who have deployed SharePoint, have deployed it enterprise-wide, according to Microsoft, and it typically is the place that employees go to collaborate with each other, access documents and content and to keep informed of company news and events.

So, what is stopping you from taking the plunge and providing access to SharePoint to your mobile users today?

Firstly, there may be the realization that employees who try to access corporate systems on mobile devices, are essentially the same as external users, as far as information security is concerned, and if you do not currently allow external access over your firewall to your internal systems, then this will probably be one of the key areas for you  to start your enterprise mobility and BYOD initiatives.

Secondly, for those who have examined the standard mobile templates that ship with SharePoint, you will come to understand that unless you undertake a significant amount of custom development work (which will need to be repeated for each mobile device), it is unlikely that your business users are going to find the standard mobile SharePoint templates an engaging and productive working experience.

There are a number of off-the-shelf mobile SharePoint solutions, like Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution and others, and this will undoubtedly encourage you to start thinking about what kind of mobile experience you want to provide to your users.  On this issue, it is important to be clear about where you (the employer, rather than the employee) stand on the provision of mobile services that access enterprise systems.  It is one thing to allow personal devices, or corporately sanctioned devices to be used in the workplace, but this should not come at a cost to information security and control over user access and management.  This may dictate whether you decide to deploy Native Mobile Applications (that can be purchased by individual users from App Stores and market places) and Mobile Web Applications that can be purchased and deployed centrally and can be updated without having to rely on end users to do this manually from their mobile platform App Stores.

To many the perception is that Mobile Web Applications are not able to take advantage of value-adding mobile device functions or that they are not available in offline mode.  On this front, a new generation of Mobile Web Applications, of which SharePoint2Go is a good example, are showing that you can deploy lightweight web-based mobile solutions that behave like native applications and can be used in offline mode.

Azurati will be hosting a webinar on this topic on the 19th of September if you are interested in finding out more about what you should be looking out for before you consider trying to deploy SharePoint as part of your enterprise mobility or BYOD strategy.

Webinar:  Deploying Microsoft SharePoint securely on multiple mobile platforms

When:  19 September 2012 (16:00 London/ 11:00 NY/ 08:00 LA)

Register:  https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/682161175

 

Does your SharePoint implementation support mobile users?

Perhaps a good place to start answering this question may be to ask whether your SharePoint implementation supports and adds value to your staff in general?

The SharePoint story has been phenomenal.  It has become the de facto enterprise portal, ECM solution and collaboration platform of choice for over 65,000 corporate customers with 125 million users (according to Microsoft).  Some 65% of companies say that have deployed SharePoint enterprise-wide, yet a commonly reported issue is that SharePoint implementations fail to create an engaging and productive working environment for end users. So, what kind of functionality in SharePoint should you be looking for to help your staff become more productive with their time?  Here is a list of some of the more obvious features:

  • Access to document libraries and templates
  • Tasks and workflow
  • Forms
  • Custom views and WebParts (like Social Collaboration apps, corporate announcements, staff contact lists, BI reports and dashboards, CRM pipeline reports, etc).

If your SharePoint environment provides some or all of these functions, then you probably feel that SharePoint is going a good job in supporting your users. Your staff who work away from the office or who want to access SharePoint on mobile devices however, may well feel quite differently, since it is unlikely that they are going to be able to have access to the same rich supporting environment on their smartphone or tablet.

There are many issues to overcome in order to provide secure mobile access to SharePoint.  Firstly, the standard mobile templates that ship with SharePoint are basic, uninspiring and difficult to customize and any development work that is taken place will need to be repeated for each mobile platform and form factor. Then you have the issue of security and authentication.  Remembering that staff members who want to access corporate systems from their mobile devices, are essentially the same as external users; so firewalls, authentication procedures and mobile information security policies may need to be revised.

Whether you take the plunge and undertake custom development of SharePoint’s native mobile templates, or whether you purchase an off-the-shelf mobile SharePoint application from an App store, you will still only have access to standard out-of-the-box SharePoint functions. If your SharePoint system has been branded and customized with WebParts and other functionality that add value to your staff to boost collaboration and productivtiy, then unfortunately all of the current mobile SharePoint solutions on the market fail to provide mobile users with a corresponding mobile SharePoint experience as they all only provide assess to standard functionality, like tasks, calendars, lists items and document libraries.

That is, with the exception of Azurati.  Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution provides a highly secure cross-platform mobile SharePoint experience that will work on any device from a Windows 8 Surface tablet, to IOS device and everything in between.  The big difference being that it also allows the mobile SharePoint UI to be branded and customized, so that it essentially becomes a mobile extension to the internal SharePoint environment and most importantly, it also allows custom developed WebParts, that provide the added value to SharePoint users, to be transformed into v-Parts® and made available to mobile users via SharePoint2Go.

So, from an end user’s perspective, SharePoint2Go provides a rich mobile SharePoint experience that will allow mobile users to maintain office-level productivity when working on any smartphone or tablet. From the IT department’s perspective, SharePoint2Go allows mobile SharePoint to be deployed as part of a multi-platform or BYOD mobile strategy, but allowing the Business to maintain control over security and authentication.

Why should you care about mobile users?  Well, because many organizations see enterprise mobility as being one of their top strategic priorities.   As new smartphones and tablets appear on the market and overtake the sales of laptops and desktops, the traditional definition of a mobile user will change.  In the very near future, we will all be mobile users, and for 65% of organisations who responded to a recent survey by Gartner, we will increasingly expect to be able to bring our own devices in to the workplace and to connect to enterprise systems.

If you are interested in providing secure access to mobile SharePoint as part of your enterprise mobility strategy, talk to Azurati or join other like-minded business and IT professionals by subscribing to the LinkedIn Group: Mobile SharePoint.  Azurati also offers a range of expert consulting services to help you if you have not yet fully defined an enterprise mobility or BYOD strategy for your business.