Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Are you prepared for the cost of mobility?

Well, are you ? Have you determined what the implementation cost for a MDM or a MEAP is going to be? How about the training for your administrator, developer, helpdesk? Then once you have it all deployed, the run rate for data connections, voice, data/voice roaming, international data/voice, apps, accessories?

I am not out to scare you, just want to make sure you consider the TCO and add that into the overall value proposition you developed for mobility. It's probably there and you ARE going to do it but don't go in blind.


Did you think of these BEFORE you rolled out mobile?

Plan before rolling out devices.  It isn't just as easy as giving someone an iPad or Asus Transformer or other tablet device or even smartphones iOS or Android flavored.  Here is just a FEW of the things you need to be thinking about BEFORE you roll these out to the organization.  These are all part of a general mobile strategy and are defined by an overall architecture that can deliver on the requirements an organization defines.

1. Determine how they should be used
    What is the value they bring?
    How are you going to measure that value?
    Do you have enough WiFi bandwidth in the office?
    Who pays for the 3/4G connections?
2. What apps?
    What is the business process they enable?
    What applications should people load/pay for/use
    Will you monitor those apps?
3. TCO - no cheaper than laptops
    Cost of the device
    Accessories (cover, stylus, keyboard, cables, external batteries, etc)
    Cost of the software?
    Cost of the usage (WiFi by the connection, 3/4G data, roaming etc)
4. Support and Security
    Helpdesk support
    App delivery
    Custom app development (tools, integration, delivery)
    Application debug, analysis and performance
    Virus/Malware protection
    Lost/Stolen devices

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mobile IS a reality

I have a friend at the church I attend, we'll call her Sara.  Sara is not exactly a luddite or even a techno-phobe but I would not call her a leading edge kind of gal.  She spent years at AT&T so she has been around technology just not intimate with it the way some are.  She is becoming a digital immigrant.  Her immigration status took a big leap lately.

She now has an iPhone and it using it for more than voice.  Sara is an avid reader and uses our St Louis County Library system.  She was telling me how great Overdrive and the Kindle app are on her phone.  Checking out books and reading them on her iPhone is now a regular activity.

This is another indication of the ubiquity of these mobile devices AND how they are being used.  This is more bandwidth, more data, more eyes on the screen, more often.  It's no longer a "nerd" thing to pull up your phone to answer a question about almost anything.  Looking at my own phone and the apps that I use most frequently I am a little surprised at how many of them are there.  Sure all the regulars like mail, calendar, Safari and Messages, but there are others like Clock Radio (my alarm clock), GroupMe (group texting, we use it for our family), Music, ESPN ScoreCenter, Dropbox, Latitude, foursquare, Evernote, Camera!, Camera+, Google+, AppsGoneFree, AppDeals, Chomp (those three are for finding deals on apps for iOS), 1Password, Flipboard, Cyclemeter (my bike ride tracking), QuickVoice (capturing interviews), FeedlerPro and still there are more in the tray.

Check out your own active app tray and see what you've touched since the last time you rebooted you phone.  You might be surprised.

Technology > IT - Sum greater than the parts ?

An old (Jan 2012) blog entry by Mark McDonald from Gartner Technology > IT got me thinking more about the democratization of IT and what it means to IT and the business.

Technology is a funny thing. There is a completely different view of the same landscape from the organizations. Many people not in IT, see technology as a set of tools they use for doing all the tasks they need to accomplish to meet their goals and objectives against the business strategy. Like a carpenter or other craftsperson, it doesn't really matter what brand of tool I use or even what tool I use. If it is appropriately being used to do my work, then get the heck out of my way and let me get my work done.

If I am a sales person or finance person or other non-technology personnel, IT has a tendency of telling me what I CANNOT do or what I MUST use. They keep me from installing software on my "personal" computer that I want to use, they block YouTube or other sites that I use regularly for seeing what the competition or industry is doing, they vehemently let me know that I cannot be using any cloud resources due to security concerns.

At the same time they give me a set of tools that I don't like, find painful to use, and requires me to go through all kind of gyrations to use when I am out of the office.

Sure, I understand there are risks and requirements to mitigate those risks from using the internet. I don't know any difference from internet and the cloud. Seems to be the same thing to me. The corporate data that I use needs to be protected. Help me determine the best way to use these internet apps without putting the company in serious jeapordy. I regularly use Evernote as my brain away from home. I keep a ton of stuff in there and am constantly going there to find information I have saved on my customer and competitors. I also save a lot of personal things in there. Why is that bad? Recently I learned I could share one of my Evernote notebooks with someone else. This is great and made it easy for me to work with another company in building the best product mix to meet their needs. Same thing goes for Dropbox. I have a bunch of files that I sync from my pc, which by the way, I use infrequently any longer. I have an Galaxy SII and an Transformer Prime for accomplishing everything I need to do. Had an iPad but my kids took it over.

IT needs to embrace these ideas and help me use the tools I want to use. I'm willing to make some changes in order to meet the biggest risks but you also need to work with me. I don't ask for support except in a rare instance. These devices just work and don't fail the way my pc did on a regular basis.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Day 1 Boardroom at Midmarket CIO Forum

Last week I attended the MidMarket CIO Forum in Orlando this week presented by Boardroom Events. The conference is organized into small boardroom groups that stay together for two days of vendor presentations. The groups are selected on common process and technology needs defined in a pre-conference survey. The event also includes a couple keynotes as well as presentations from Info-Tech Research Group analysts and a vendor show floor. All in all, a great event for vendor contact/information and peer networking.

The format was a quick 30 minute presentation by a vendor typically with time for questions. Our first day included presentations from: Blue Coat Systems, Thinking Phone Networks, Scale Computing, Hitachi Data Systems, Interneer, Dell SecureWorks and finally HP/Intel. I'm only going to comment on those products/services that apply to mobility or at least on the fringes of a mobility architecture.

Blue Coat Systems

A combination WAN optimization and Internet security either on premise with an appliance or as a service in the cloud. These guys also provide a free personal home service through a product called K9 Web Protection. Check it out for some protection for your kids and other malware. Not that your kids are malware or maybe they are ;-)

Thinking Phone Networks provide not onlty a cloud based phone system but adds unified communications and mobility into the mix.
This new company was definately targetted at the midmarket and Jeff Ready presented a good overview of the product offering and architecture. They were bringing a hardware solution that for the small businesses, would be their entire datacenter in a box. VM's / NAS / SAN all very easily built and configured without the normal hassles associated with linking NAS or SAN storage into a VM infrastructure. While it is not specifically a mobile play, this looks like a great solution for the growing midmarket business.

As your networks get more complex with connections to your MPLS, private and public cloud as well as all you wifi access points, servers, phone system. etc, etc, etc, it also gets more complex to manage them and understand what is happening. You have tools from multiple vendors but they don't talk with each other or if they do, there is no global alarm or incident management. Hitachi can help with that.

Business process design is another hot topic. From their web site "Interneer Intellect is a Web-based integrated Workflow and Business Process Management software solution - requires no programming from initial design to deployment. Model, automate, manage and optimize business processes and workflows. It can easily adapt your applications to accommodate and avoid costly resources and replacements. Intellect is integrated in one single environment with no hassle of purchasing, installing, maintaining and learning multiple disparate systems."

The marketer who made this presentation became known as Nightmare on Dell Street. Don't get me wrong, it was a good presentation and some good content, just sounded very, very scary. He spent the entire session showing us how horrible it was to be on the internet, mobile or for that matter, any technology. They of course has a solution for all these mean, nasty, ugly things.

This presentation was actually done by an Intel technology advocate. I remember the presentation being good but have to admit, I cannot remember what they were selling.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Cocktails for Developers

The landscape for mobile as well as web development has shifted again.  Yahoo has release Mohito to the Open Source community.

Developers now have the a number of choices of products to build an application that can be deployed either as a device dependent mobile app, a web based app or a hybrid app that can be built for multiple hardware platforms from one set of code.  This one, Mohito, has been there for a while but now Yahoo has released it to the Open Source Community under the BSD Licensing.  This is a great thing for developers

Now along with tools such as Sybase Unwired Platform, Sencha and several others the opportunity to build great apps is expanded.  I am always joking with my wife that there is an "app for that" is becoming the reality for almost anything and everything. AND the cost of entry is dropping precipitously.  The OpenSource tools are supported by rich vibrant communities.

The skill set required to build these apps is moving from being purely web skills (html5, css, javascript) to include new IDE's (integrated development environment) as well as other tools.

Just on the CSS side of the house there are a number of tools the professional developer can use.  Here is a very short list from a ton of them out there.

  • CSS Lint to hurt your feelings and help you code better
  • Compass CSS Authoring Framework
  • SASS extension of CSS3 adding nested rules, variables, mixins, selector inheritance and more

Javascript has just as many tools and libraries to use.  The development IDE's typically support them.

  • JSLint to again hurt your feelings and help you code better.
  • jQuery UI develop user interfaces
The message seems to be, websites turn into web apps turn into mobile apps turn into whatever is next.  Anyone could build a website, not anyone can build an app. Of course, their are expectations from the end user whether they are consumer or enterprise that turn this back to a professional development effort that requires significant knowledge and skills to do effectively and efficiently.  See my blog AppDev is hard, difficult and rewarding (mostly)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How will you deal with PUDs

I just attended the MidMarket CIO Forum in Orlando this week presented by Boardroom Events. The conference is organized into small boardroom groups that stay together for two days of vendor presentations. The groups are selected on common process and technology needs defined in a pre-conference survey. The event also includes a couple keynotes as well as presentations from Info-Tech Research Group analysts and a vendor show floor. All in all, a great event for vendor contact/information and peer networking.

This was a new piece of jargon for me: Personal Unmanaged Device or PUD.

James Quinn, from Info-Tech, presented on the influx of these devices into our network and that it is inevitable that we will need to include them in our mobile strategy. The use of these by our employees, contractors, etc. has been growing: 2011 53% of users, 2012 67% and by 2013 99%.

The end result of determining the key security issues showed that doing nothing was the most expensive solution. The other solutions included combinations of Mobile Device Management, Anti-Virus/malware, and application virtualization. This was all on top of doing data security at the app level.

Start off with the bare necessities: MDM, Anti-malware, policies and education. Depending on needs, add data control with monitoring and reporting, comprehensive policy management w/ monitoring for compliance, network access, and zero data footprint apps.

In the end you cannot replace supervision and people management.

A very good presentation with a lively discussion from the audience participants.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Shakespearean Sea Change

I am currently attending the MidMarket CIO Summit in Orlando. This is a great networking and information gathering event for the medium size business. It has an industry keynote each day as well as analyst sessions from InfoTech.

The keynote this morning was from Davin Juusola, an analyst from InfoTech. Technology is in the midst of a Sea Change. The idiom is from a phrase in Shakespeare's "The Tempest".

But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

It has come to mean a profound change, though Shakespeare was talking about what the sea had done to change the body of Ferdinand's father over time.

This profound change to our entire computing paradigm is coming about from: Mobility, Social Media, Big Data, Cloud and the necessity for Security around all this. Any one of these can be a major issue for the enterprise today and taken together they can feel overwhelming.

Get over it !!!

This is happening. Employees are bringing their own mobile devices into the enterprise and being productive with them. Sure there may be some abuse of the devices but this is more of a people issue than a technology issue. The enterprise needs to determine the best way to embrace the concept, train the folks on best security practices and build a mobile device management policy and process.

Social Media is another matter. There are certainly SOME folks in the business who SHOULD be using it for marketing, customer contact, support, etc. This is unfortunately an active vector for malware and even more mean, nasty, ugly things to come into the network. IT should be monitoring this and helping the organization to use these resources responsibly. They are really no different from the internet and we KNOW how that can be ;-)

Moving more and more services to the cloud is a great way for the organization to deliver content, apps, collaboration with the business. It is probably NOT going to save you any money, but will allow you to focus on more important processes since you won't be running all this hardware. We DO need to make sure the services are secure and the data we are storing out there and the apps we are running out there are secure and appropriate for being outside of our "(fire)walled" landscapes. Not all of them are.

With data being created at an ever increasing rate and storage media costs decreasing at almost the same rate we have more data than ever before. What are we going to do with this. A whole new role of "data scientist" has evolved to deal with the big data. New tools, techniques and processes are being developed to allow us to deal with hundreds a millions a lines (columns) of data. As the "internet of things" grows, so will the data associated. Companies like Google, SAP and others are learning how to use this data in an effective and efficient way. When will your company? Will you do it before your competition?

In every one of these technology disrupters, security is a significant component. We need to determine where the controls need to be, what really needs to be locked down, who needs to see what, where is the information being stored and what can we do when something bad happens. AND IT WILL.