SHARE in San Francisco Journal: Mobile Device Management (MDM) for the Mainframe is On the Move

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 featured a 2-day Mobility Spotlight (February 4-5) with 11 hours of sessions covering advancements in mobile technologies, including hot topics such as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), MDM (Mobile Device Management), security, application development challenges and more. Development for the Mobile in the Enterprise track began at SHARE in Anaheim (see “Big Opportunities in Mobile Computing for the Mainframe” on President’s Corner), and SHARE ran a “Mainframe and Mobility” blog series by contributor Erika Morphy last November and December.

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. (See “Mobile Devices Will Outnumber People by the End of the Year,” ABC News: Tech This Out, February 6, 2013.) 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,” Jonathan Fan, Program Director, Endpoint Management Strategy and Product Management, IBM Software Group – Tivoli, told attendees at his session “IBM Mobile Enterprise Strategy.” “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 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 the “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 4000 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, and Mobile in the Enterprise was no exception. 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 & Communicate a Formal Mobile Strategy & 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, which included SHARE members from North America and Asia/Pacific, as well as responses from Guide SHARE Europe, will be released in March. Watch for coverage on President’s Corner. Meantime, several presenters suggested interested attendees check and the BeYOnDEndpoints blog for continuing developments.

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

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