Dan's Take

Dell and Mobile Device Security

The company says piecemeal solutions won't cut it.

I recently enjoyed a talk with Dell's Jeff McNaught, the Executive Director of Marketing and Chief Strategy Officer at Dell Cloud Client-Computing. The focus of this discussion were the things keeping enterprise IT executives awake at night, and what can be done to address these issues in a reasonable, cost-effective way.

In McNaught's view, executives are struggling with the following mobile device issues:

  • The proliferation of mobile devices, such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and other intelligent devices has introduced a number of challenges. Each of these devices typically come from different vendors and each has its own development, management and backup tools. This is making it difficult for IT to manage the overall computing environment effectively.

  • The use of these mobile devices can make it difficult to adhere to the organization's data governance and privacy guidelines. A great deal of corporate data has found its way onto these devices, and the loss of a device could create large problems for the company.

  • Mobile devices can introduce attack surfaces and make security more difficult.

McNaught believes that the combination of various virtualization technologies, including desktop virtualization, application virtualization, processing virtualization, storage virtualization and access virtualization is now able to address these issues; and they'll only get better in the future.

He also believes Windows 10 and its features could be considered a turning point for many enterprises. Many of Windows 10's features allow enterprises to address many corporate requirements using the same set of tools.

McNaught suggested that keeping applications and data safely behind enterprise firewalls and allowing access through the use of these virtualization technologies, combined with the adoption of sophisticated security software, can do the trick.

There are still a few issues for technology to solve, including: how to safely use public clouds; an architectural approach to mobile security that makes it possible for enterprises to lock out security threats in the future; and how to keep distributed data secure. Dell is working on tools that will address these needs, McNaught said, but he wouldn't go into any level of detail on future offerings.

Dan's Take: Mobile Diversity Requires Holistic Solutions
Many enterprises, in the hopes of increasing levels of agility while also reducing costs, have pushed off the selection of mobile devices onto members of their staff.  Furthermore, as customers expect immediate access to the enterprise for product selection, sales, and support, support of whatever device the customer is using is critical as well.

Virtualizing access to corporate applications and allowing access through apps that execute on all popular mobile devices is a solution to some of these problems. Citrix, for example, offers Receiver for just about everything from iPhones to intelligent toasters (I'm kidding -- for now, at least -- about the toasters.) This could address the needs for Android, IOS, Linux, OS X and Windows users.

Application virtualization makes it possible for applications themselves to be delivered to select mobile devices. This makes it possible for a more intelligent and immersive environment to be delivered to some devices. Some Windows applications, for example, could be delivered to Windows PCs, laptops and tablets. This doesn't, of course, address the needs of customers or staff that have selected devices powered by other operating systems.

Dell points out that this moves the problems created by a highly diverse environment onto the suppliers of this technology, so that enterprise IT no longer has to deal with device support for every device a staff member or customer might choose.

Dell appears to be addressing enterprise issues using an architectural approach rather than merely putting together a patchwork quilt of software and hardware products. I look forward to learning more as the company rolls out its vision.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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