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                                                                                                          Good to go: smartphones can potentially create
                                                                                                          headaches for IT managers looking to integrate
                                                                                                          a mobile workforce into their networks

                                                                                                          Corporate workforces are becoming
                                                                                                          increasingly mobile and without access
                                                                                                          to network resources, they’ll come to a
                                                                                                          standstill. RAHIEL NASIR finds out what
                                                                                                          you need to watch out for when
                                                                                                          deploying resources for road warriors

     Keep on moving
            y 2012, 73 per cent of the enterprise   support a mobile workforce,” advises             Rikke Helms, EMEA MD at Antenna             mobile devices and emerging mobile

     B      workforce across the western world
            will be mobile, according to a study
     conducted by Forrester Research in 2008.
                                                    Andrew Barnes, SVP of Corporate
                                                    Development at Neverfail. “Email and
                                                    BlackBerry have different components
                                                                                                  Software, adds that many organisations
                                                                                                  make the mistake of looking to extend
                                                                                                  their legacy systems out to the mobile
                                                                                                                                                 web-based technologies. Enterprises
                                                                                                                                                 don’t want a collection of mobile
                                                                                                                                                 solutions; they want a unified mobile
     In the UK, the Office of National              underlying them, including SQL server,        workforce when what they really need is        platform that can help them address
     Statistics (ONS) estimates that more than      and failure of any part of the application    a solution that comes from the outside in      system and device diversity and provide
     six million people either currently work       stack will lead to employees being cut        to tap enterprise systems. “If you take        company-wide mobility if required.”
     remotely, or do so from time to time. This     off from their information. The network       enterprise resource planning (ERP) as an          Another issue Helms highlights is the
     has led to a fresh set of challenges and       manager should look at business               example, while some vendors offer              fact that many mobility applications have
     opportunities for businesses dealing with a    continuity and disaster recovery as           mobile extensions of their systems,            to be written specifically for each
     newly mobile workforce.                        something that should be included as          typically these point applications are         operating system due to individual
        Nick Bond, infrastructure specialist at     part of a mobile rollout, not as an           extremely limited in terms of their            coding requirements. This is particularly
     Zeus Technology, says that the UK is           afterthought. After all, uninterrupted        mobile device support and their ability to     true with regards to business-class
     becoming a nation that expects ‘on-            access to email and corporate                 support the integration of other backend       applications which need to have robust
     demand’ services and jobs are no               information can make the difference           data for the mobile worker.”                   security and backup abilities for when the
     different. “People expect to be able to        between success and failure of a given           Helms says that in order to ensure          user is out of signal range. “Advances in
     work remotely, with access to the              business decision, the results of which       flexibility, extensibility, and future-        mobility mean it is now possible to create
     necessary applications whenever and            can affect productivity, financial            proofing of the solution, companies            these applications once and send them to
     wherever they want. According to the           performance, and corporate reputation.”       should consider a mobile enterprise            any handset; the application will
     ONS, at least 90 per cent of those that           Continuous network availability is         application platform (MEAP) that can           automatically be compatible with the
     do are in managerial, professional,            therefore crucial for mobile workers. As a    mobilise data from the ERP, data source,       Android, iPhone, Windows Mobile, RIM
     technical or skilled trades, and most rely     result, Neverfail has developed the           or any other system, so that field             and Symbian operating systems.”
     heavily on mobile devices and                  Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) which      workers have all the pertinent                    Helms’ advice is to look for an agnostic
     applications that are routed through the       is designed to protect the end-to-end         information they need to hand.                 MEAP that can provide this type of
     central business network. This means an        BlackBerry eco-system. The system uses a         She also says that in the past,             support for mobile devices, along with
     extraordinary increase in the amount of        secondary server that functions as a “fully   organisations have “fixated” on mobile         comprehensive management and control
     network traffic that many businesses           synchronised hot standby”. It continually     point solutions, which are specific            over all aspects of the mobile deployment,
     now have to deal with.”                        stores a complete, consistent, and up-to-     mobile apps tied to specific back-end          from users to devices to applications.
        Having the network to be able to deal       date copy of the BES and its associated       systems or processes. “This was natural           When integrating mobile workers into a
     with that extra traffic is of course           email and SQL configuration databases. If     because a point solution helped to             network, some industry insiders are
     crucial. But when deploying platforms to       anything goes wrong with the primary          address a specific problem. But now            concerned less about what kind of
     enable mobile working, some experts            environment, Neverfail says that users are    companies have realised that these point       resources are being accessed, and more
     say that the biggest pitfall network           connected seamlessly to the secondary         solutions don’t allow them to keep pace        about the devices that are being used. And
     managers have to avoid is downtime.            server for high availability, or the remote   with innovations – either on the back-         if there’s one issue that unites the industry
     “Network managers should be aware that         tertiary server for disaster recovery, and    end with improvements to systems or            when it comes to mobile employees it’s
     there are various components that              work continues as normal.                     processes, or on the front end with new        the increasing use of the smartphone.

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                                                     Rege says that quite often he has seen    sales force automation, logistics, field      needs full visibility so he knows what
                                                  network managers assume that the             technician systems, and collaboration         phones are connecting to enterprise
                                                  platform they start with is the only         tools such as SharePoint.                     resources and if there are multiple devices
                                                  platform they will need to support. But         “Will the helpdesk be able to handle all   connecting to a single mailbox.”
                                                  then employees start to use their own        of this if they continue to rely on              Adrian Polley, technical services
                                                  devices or demand different ones. “In        traditional ‘talk through’ methods and        director at Plan-Net, agrees and says
                                                  many cases, the persistent employees are     legacy remote control tools to provide        that traditionally, SMBs are less aware
                                                  also the most senior, and then the network   support? Not easily. Firstly, legacy remote   of the security issues so any concerns
                                                  manager has an emergency on his/her          control tools were never designed for the     have not been a barrier to adoption. But
                                                  hands, having implemented a platform         helpdesk. As a result, they don’t deliver     he adds that this is beginning to change.
                                                  that can’t handle diversity,” he says.       the value-added capabilities required by      “A key factor here is what people accept
                                                                                               them, such as queuing,                                    as the norm. It’s clear, for
                                                  Help required                                technician monitoring or                                     example, that the
                                                                                               collaboration. They are also                                 BlackBerry provides more
                                                  A survey carried out by Forrester            particularly ineffective for                                 security functionality out
                                                  Research in 2009 showed that just under      connecting to laptops or                                     of the box than an iPhone.
                                                  half of enterprises provided support for     netbooks that are off the                                    However, for many SMBs
                                                  employees’ personal devices, and 50 per      corporate LAN. For the                                       that factor won’t be the
                                                  cent supported more than one OS. “The        helpdesk to make a                                           one to sway their decision.
                                                  implications of the mobile workforce are     connection to that device, it                                It is also true though, that
                                                  many, but one of the most pronounced is      will typically require the                                   the more tools such as the
     “Legacy remote control                       the impact that employee mobility has on     end-user to get on-LAN                                       iPhone are adopted by
                                                  the IT helpdesk,” notes Lee Weiner,          using a VPN. Given the                                       businesses, the greater the
     tools were never designed                    director of Rescue Products at LogMeIn.      issues many end-users have                                   demand will be to ensure
                                                  “Desk-side visits are no longer possible.    with VPNs – particularly                                     that they are secure.”
     for the helpdesk.”                           Mobile employees are off the corporate       when connecting from                                            Paul Phillips, Brocade
                                                  LAN, rendering legacy support tools          ‘foreign’ networks such as                                   Communications’ regional
     Lee Weiner,                                  obsolete. Smartphones, in particular, are    in hotels, cafes, and                                        director for UK and Ireland,
     Director of Rescue Products,                 having a significant impact, as employees    conference centres – this is                                 asks how valuable
     LogMeIn                                      are demanding support for their personal     hardly an ideal solution.                                    enterprise data can be
                                                  devices, resulting in a proliferation of     Worse, if the issue is with                                  protected in an age when
       “Enterprise mobility is a juggernaut and   operating systems to accommodate.”           the VPN itself, there’s really
     the rapid pace of adoption will be driven       Weiner says that for now, there is a      nothing the helpdesk can do.”                 MobileIron offers a complete security and
     by users, not IT, ” says Ojas Rege, VP of    relatively limited set of smartphone            And when it comes to the                   management solution, plus full visibility and
     Products and Marketing at MobileIron.        applications, such as web-based              smartphone, Weiner points out that the        access control of all smartphones connecting
     “Every user with a laptop today will also    corporate email, contacts, and calendars,    case for using legacy remote control          to corporate email
     have a smartphone tomorrow. Up until         that the helpdesk is called upon to          tools for support is even weaker: “They
     two years ago, most company smartphone       support. But he warns that as the            just can’t handle smartphone devices. So
     deployments were single-OS                   workforce becomes more mobile, and as        any helpdesk that’s hoping they can get       employees frequently work beyond the
     environments. Now, with smartphone           smartphones replace standard handsets in     by with their legacy IT management            reach of traditional data centre security
     choice being driven by user demand, the      the workplace, the range of applications     tools is going to find themselves in the      controls. He says: “Increasing staff
     network manager has to be prepared to        that need to be supported will grow to       awkward situation of walking the user         mobility means that building a rock-hard
     support a broad set of [mobile] platforms.   include business applications such as        through steps over the phone.”                perimeter is no longer sufficient – because
                                                                                                  The situation is made worse when an        when staff no longer work from a specific
                                                                                               organisation provides support for a range     workstation that is hard-wired into the
                                                                                               of personal mobility devices. While           corporate LAN, it’s no longer clear where
                                                                                               many enterprises strictly mandate the         an organisation’s perimeter lies.”
                                                                                               smartphone they’ll support, Weiner says          Phillips says that in terms of securing
                                                                                               that this trend is changing as more           the mobile worker, the network core is
                                                                                               workers bring their own devices into the      the best place to start. His view is that
                                                                                               workplace with the expectation of             while it’s vital to secure data – no
                                                                                               support. “Troubleshooting across all the      matter where it resides – the most
                                                                                               different devices remotely is a near          critical business data continues to be
                                                                                               impossibility and often the solution is to    attached to the SAN. This is centralised
                                                                                               send the device back to the helpdesk for      and supports almost every aspect of the
                                                                                               repair which negatively impacts               data centre – from the server
                                                                                               employee productivity.”                       environment and workstations, to edge
                                                                                                                                             computing and the backup environment.
                                                                                               Secure the core                               “The key is to build upwards and
                                                                                                                                             outwards from there, developing robust
                                                                                               Of course, there is another major issue       and non-intrusive security policies that
                                                                                               that needs to be addressed when adding        address the needs of different kinds of
                                                                                               mobility to your network: security. Rege      users as you go,” he says.
                                                                                               says: “The soft spot in mobile security is       Such “fabric-based” security solutions
                                                                                               not the network. It’s knowing what’s on       enable IT managers to create and enforce
                                                                                               the phone and how it’s being used. Has        security policies as required; update
                                                                                               data been written to an SD card? Has a        them or develop new ones in response to
                                                                                               SIM been swapped? Is the data                 emerging threats; and to monitor systems
                                                                                               encrypted? Has the phone been                 and conduct regular security audits of
                                                                                               compromised/jail broken?”                     the corporate infrastructure, with a view
                                                                                                  Rege adds that most organisations          to spotting potential breaches before they
                                                                                               have not spent time to think through and      occur. “The right solution will also
                                                                                               deploy policies for the “tricky questions”    incorporate powerful encryption
                                                                                               that will arise, such as: what role does      technology – preferably including AES-
                                                                                               privacy play in smartphone management?        256 – enabling them to wrap sensitive
                                                                                               Will employee-owned phones have               data in transit between systems in an
                                                                                               different policies than those that are        additional layer of protection.”
                                                                                               corporate-owned? Should employee-                He adds that a secure data-centre fibre
                                                                                               owned phones be allowed? What level of        backbone also brings mobile workers’
                                                                                               security is required for the smartphone       endpoint devices closer to network
                                                                                               given there are multiple smartphone OS        administrators and firmly under their
                                                                                               platforms in users’ hands and all have        control. Regardless of their physical
                                                                                               different security capabilities?              location, the laptops and smartphones
                                                                                                  He also points out that managers often     that many mobile employees rely on
                                                                                               face a lack of visibility when it comes to    must be secured if an organisation is
                                                                                               monitoring the mobile network. “How           going to lessen the risks associated with
                                                                                               many phones are connected to email?           their loss or theft. “It’s not just a matter
                                                                                               Most companies do not know the answer         of protecting the integrity of the data
                                                                                               to this question. The network manager         they hold,” says Phillips, “it’s also about

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     safeguarding the data they are able to                                                      Aculab’s ApplianX Gateway appliances support     no doubt inspire an entire new generation
     access at the back-end. A robust, holistic                                                  a wide array of protocols and codecs to enable   of advanced applications and solutions
     security strategy that takes into account                                                   communications across multiple networks          that will bring productivity and efficiency
     increased mobility will seek to secure                                                                                                       to even greater heights.”
     these devices both locally and centrally.”                                                                                                      But he goes on to point out that the
        Phillips goes on to say that the local                                                                                                    challenge for providers is to introduce
     measures include hardware lock-downs                                                                                                         technologies that can integrate with
     (equipment should be password-                                                                                                               existing infrastructure as well as next
     protected so that it can’t be accessed by       efficiency to the user, yet they lag                                                         generation networks. “This is an
     unauthorised users), and software-level         behind legacy SS7 and TDM networks            According to Aculab, many companies            economic reality that all technology
     precautions (encryption should be               in terms of redundancy and reliability.     and entrepreneurs are embracing mobility         providers must acknowledge. Long gone
     applied so that even if the device is           “And it would be a serious mistake to       as ‘the great equaliser’ – a strategic asset     are the days when companies had ample
     compromised, the data it contains is            assume that applications that behave        that allows them to compete against              capital to invest in technology. Today,
     useless without the proper                      perfectly in one environment would          companies that may have more                     smart businesses are looking to extend
     authentication keys). “Meanwhile, at a          uniformly do so in other networks. In       headcount and bigger budgets. And Joint          the lifecycles of their infrastructure as
     centralised level, network                      order to achieve operational excellence     says that this trend will only escalate.         much as possible. And they require to see
     administrators need to tie NAC and              and superior network quality, the           “Many businesses continue to find a              a tangible return on investment before
     intrusion-detection systems into the            network manager should invest in            number of efficiencies in next generation        any acquisition is made. If a vendor
     corporate security backbone, so that            extensible solutions that ensure a truly    communications tools to enable mobile            cannot deliver a solution that adequately
     they can control the data traffic that          reliable and seamless user experience in    workers, teleworkers and geographically          meets these economic requirements, their
     follows to and from these devices at the        any environment,” Joint says.               dispersed workforces. This growth will           chances of success will be limited.” I
     point where the corporate network
     meets the public internet.”
        For the most part, voice-enabled
     solutions remain very secure according
     to Tim Joint, commercial manager for
     Aculab’s ApplianX products which
     support a number of secure IP
     protocols such as SRTP and SIPS. Joint
     adds that fixed line services, like
                                                               True Mobile Wi-Fi
     MPLS and TDM, also remain highly
     secure, and even with wireless, where
     sophisticated encryption technologies
                                                               Get connected wherever you are, through your
     have entered the market, security has
     improved to the point where it should
                                                               own Mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.
     not be an inhibiting factor for a
     company looking to leverage mobile
     communications tools.                                     Where a fixed internet connection is not available
        Aculab claims that its philosophy is to
     deliver enabling technologies that                        (E1, DSL etc) a satellite internet connection can be
     facilitate seamless communication
     across all networks, whether they’re                      provided. This is perfect to provide Wi-Fi hotspot
     wireless, IP, or legacy. “There’s still a lot
     of legacy infrastructure in the UK and it                 services to those difficult to reach areas such as outdoor
     would be short-sighted to presume that
     it still doesn’t play a major role in the
                                                               hospitality events or civil emergencies where internet
     overall communications network,” says                     connection is required immediately but not obtainable.
     Joint. “If an application only works in
     an IP environment, but fails in the TDM
     or cellular world, it fails the customer.”
        He goes on to say that network
     administrators must be aware of the
     performance issues and nuances that
                                                               •   Ideal for instant temporary office
     exist between disparate networks. For                         and remote locations
     instance, he says that IP networks and
     SIP-based services offer a great deal of                  •   802.11 a/b/g/n compatible
                                                               •   Easy to set-up
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                                                               LAN2LAN has the experience to
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                                                               For further information and to discuss your specific requirements,
     “Enterprises don’t want a
                                                               please contact LAN2LAN on 0870 787 4001 or email us at
     collection of mobile
     solutions; they want a
     unified mobile platform…”
     Rikke Helms,
     Managing director EMEA,
     Antenna Software

                                                                                                17                                                               june 2010    n e t w o r k i ng

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