Mobile Data Governance

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mobile data governance x300by Jelani Harper

The benefits of utilizing mobile devices for the enterprise include:

  • Reduced Infrastructure Costs: Organizations can drastically reduce their costs for infrastructure by taking advantage of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon, in which employees utilize their own mobile devices—smartphones, tablets and laptops—to work.
  • Greater Productivity: Mobile devices increase worker productivity and efficiency by enabling users to work from a variety of locations at any time, which significantly reduces traditional scheduling issues and data access limitations.
  • Flexibility: By allowing users to work anytime from anywhere, mobile devices augment the trend towards agility that is characterized by the convergence of mobile, Cloud, Big Data, and social media technologies.

Nonetheless, adoption rates for mobile use have been traditionally hampered by a number of drawbacks such as:

  • Governance: The increased autonomy facilitated by mobile usage has presented difficulties for governance councils, which have struggled with restricting mobile usage while permitting access in a way that benefits the end user.
  • Security: Several organizations have voiced security concerns related to enabling user access to proprietary data on devices that largely operate outside of conventional enterprise security measures.
  • Restricted Personal Use: In instances in which enterprises were willing to facilitate mobile access to their proprietary data with BYOD tools, users were often bound by lengthy restrictions (to ensure governance and security) on devices that were originally purchased for personal use.

What is required is a delicate balance between both governance and personal concerns to spur mobile adoption rates and increase the prevalence of the BYOD movement to access mobile technology’s benefits while neutralizing its detriments. NaviSite’s Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution was specifically designed to ensure mobile governance and augment some of the most pressing trends in Data Management today to empower the end business user. According to NaviSite general manager Sumeet Sabharwal:

“That’s what EMM is aimed to address. It’s acknowledging a cloud first strategy within these enterprises and a mobile first strategy within these enterprises and saying it almost doesn’t matter now what end point device your employee has. What we’ll be able to do is guarantee the same level of control that you have within your workspace on your device.”

Cloud Architecture

EMM has a number of specific features that reinforce both mobile data governance and security while enabling personal and professional workspaces on mobile devices. It is largely able to do so due to its Cloud-based architecture, which incorporates VMware’s Air Watch technology hosted in NaviSite’s Cloud. The Cloud allows organizations to access EMM in two ways: either through a self-service portal that enables their own IT departments to manage the end point devices, or through a management service provided by NaviSite (for a fee) in which the company facilitates this process for them.

Either option requires a rigorous onboarding process in which customers have to implement the solution based on governance rules and roles, and stratify them according to profiles based on workloads, devices, groups, directory access and levels of data security so that the solution specifically pertains to their particular governance, regulatory, and security needs. The result is that IT departments will be able to both grant and monitor user access of data in workloads that are distinct from those for their own personal usage on their mobile device of choice, which facilitates privacy and governance, autonomy and restrictions for data access.

This usage of the Cloud heralds its transformation from supporting back offices to supporting front offices.  Sabharwal stated:

“The disruption that’s taking place now started in the back offices with the data center moving to the cloud and has now gone to the end user computing side. We’re right in the midst of working with enterprises to extend the same benefits that we did on the back office side to end customers by being able to bring a mobility of computing and a greater level of collaboration—a truly optimized experience on the end user’s side.”

Mobile Governance

Once the roles, rules and responsibilities are implemented into EMM, it has several features that ensure that governance is upheld including:

  • Containerization: Perhaps the most useful feature for contextualizing mobile governance is the creation and partitioning of separate workspaces on a single device. This function ensures that there are separate data, apps, and contacts for both work and personal use.
  • Software Development: EMM’s software development kit is used to create enterprise applications specifically for mobile use, and incorporates a variety of different functions such as role based access, enterprise branding of applications, access and limitations based on geographic location, testing and others.
  • Management: EMM’s three management capabilities operate at the device, app, and content levels. The mobile application management feature is a platform for disseminating, updating, and tracking apps created in the software development kit. Mobile content management is a particularly useful feature that functions much like a lock box that provides a finite amount of storage space for users to manipulate content and to share it. Viewed through a central console, the content management feature provides access for IT and others based on their roles and responsibility into a device’s enterprise data.

Mobile Security

EMM’s third management feature, mobile device management, relates as much to security as it does to governance since it facilitates the encrypting of data based on roles and workspaces, and is the initial means of determining which device has access to what data (and what form that access might take) and what general functions users can and cannot perform on their mobile devices based on policies and compliance.

In addition to the aforementioned monitoring and encryption capabilities, EMM facilitates more security by wrapping all of its apps within NaviSite’s secure cloud—regardless of which management option customers select. Doing so provides an extra layer of security for custom apps created by its software development kit and for legacy apps, which can be added to EMM to leverage its security features and be monitored from the same console that monitors other mobile content and provides security reports. Sabharwal reflected that:

“So, you’ve not only now got the governance that goes with being able to message any end point device and prevent data loss, prevent unauthorized access of the device, ensure encryption of data on the device, and enforce corporate compliance policies on the device, but also be able to provide a level of content management to where you can drive content to the relevant people and ensure and manage how and when the content is managed as well. That starts to become powerful because now you are converging a multitude of use cases that are so imperative and essential in a cloud first, mobile first world.”

Use Cases

One of the most cogent use cases for the vital content management aspect of EMM is for airlines and content delivered to flight personnel. The lengthy manuals for these personnel (which can include up to three or four thousand pages for pilots and co-pilots) are frequently updated, vary by flight personnel role and need to be read and implemented for regulatory compliance. EMM can be used to ensure that content is delivered, and to provide critical reporting features for when it was accessed and how so that governance and industry regulation measures are enforced.

Another vital area in which EMM can make a nearly instantaneous difference is in the highly regulated health care space which, from a data perspective, is full of personal and proprietary information and a host of industrial and governmental regulations about how it must be managed. EMM is particularly effective in cases of consolidations, mergers and partnership, in which one organization’s governance rules and roles must suddenly be enforced on another’s. Sabharwal noted:

“Now large hospital chains are able to come in and almost overnight extend the same controls that are very much designed to cater to their enterprise needs and the HIPPA regulations out to the smaller offices by leveraging EMM. That becomes very powerful from an agility, time to market, and leveraging existing deployed technology standpoint.”

Cloud First, Mobile First

The unveiling of EMM is a testament to many important developments within the realm of Data Management. It further attests to the fact that the enterprise and the surrounding world are indeed going mobile, and that a good deal of mobile computing is leveraged through the Cloud. More importantly, perhaps, it denotes the fact that the important principles of governance and security which the enterprise is based on in its physical confines can extend to mobile devices as well, which was traditionally one of the primary inhibitors of this technology.


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