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Making Mobile Manageable

SHARE continues its focus on mobile’s impact on the mainframe

4/2/2013 10:37:26 AM | Editor’s note: This article is based on content initially published in the SHARE President's Corner blog.

The proliferation of mobile computing devices and the implications for the mainframe have been a focus for SHARE for nearly a year. The SHARE in San Francisco conference in February featured a two-day Mobility Spotlight with 11 hours of sessions covering advancements in mobile technologies, including hot topics such as bring your own device (BYOD), mobile device management (MDM), security and application development.

The appetite for mobile computing, both in the enterprise and among individual users, shows no sign of waning. Network providers predict mobile data traffic will increase 13-fold by 2017, with more than 10 billion mobile-connected devices by then. And as every business is populated by consumers, the mobility wave washing over enterprise computing is a foregone conclusion.

Sessions at SHARE in San Francisco reflected this sense of urgency for mainframers.

A Mandatory Transformation
“Mobile is a mandatory transition,” according to Jonathan Fan, program director, endpoint management strategy and product management, IBM Software Group–Tivoli. During his session, “IBM Mobile Enterprise Strategy,” he told attendees, “Mobile is fundamentally changing industries, such as retail, financial services and distribution.”

Fan said IBM’s mobile solutions are being developed across the organization vertically and horizontally, drawing from all of the company’s assets. He encapsulated IBM’s mobile strategy this way:

• Build mobile apps and connect them to mobile systems
• Manage devices and apps to secure mobile business models
• Extend other existing capabilities to mobile models to transform business

The strategy is more easily articulated than executed, according to Fan, because mobile computing has unique management and security challenges. Mobile devices “are diverse, shared more often, have multiple personae, used in multiple locations—namely networks,” but most of all “they prioritize the user.”

It’s Good to be King
Naveed Makhani of IBM Mobile Product Management put Fan’s sentiment this way: “With PCs, IT was king. With mobile, users are king.” In his session, “Help! The Mobile Device Invasion is Here,” Makhani advised mainframers to:

1. Understand the differences between traditional endpoint management and mobile management. “Educate the IT team on the limits of traditional endpoint management tools.”
2. Start simple. “Avoid analysis paralysis and get started. First just get email access out there.”
3. Educate right away. “Reduce the Big Brother feeling in the enterprise and educate employees on the benefits and risks upfront.”

Makhani said organizations are succeeding with education-first approaches and gave the example of a large healthcare system in the southwestern U.S. The enterprise rapidly deployed endpoint management to 4,000 desktops, laptops and mobile devices using a questionnaire during the user enrollment process.

The 411 on BYOD
All conference tracks at SHARE in San Francisco struck a balance between enlightenment and caution. In his session, “6 Things to Think About Before Officially Supporting a BYOD Policy,” John Singer, IBM Information Technology Services, told attendees, “Even if we have some answers, there will always be more questions.” So, he offered these tips:

1. Develop and communicate a formal mobile strategy and policy. “Make it global.”
2. Don’t invest heavily upfront. “Paradigms will be revisited; reserve some budget.”
3. Plan on data/application movement. “And in each decision, empower the user.”
4. Simplify first; not later. “Support with FAQs, wikis and a crowd-sourced portal.”
5. Mobile management complexity will explode. “Plan on it, plan for it.”
6. Security risks will evolve at a faster pace than toolsets. “Be flexible with alternate solutions.”

Above all, Singer advocated patience: “2013 will be a watershed year for people trying to break [mobility limits]” and MDM solutions and practices will get better and better.

To continue helping mainframers keep pace, SHARE commissioned research in collaboration with IBM Systems Magazine. “The Mobile Computing in the Enterprise” study included SHARE members from North America and Asia/Pacific as well as responses from Guide SHARE Europe. Results were released in March.

Communications strategist Bob Dirkes attended SHARE in San Francisco on special assignment. Follow him on Twitter @RCDirkes.

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