Creating an Infrastructure Strategy for Enterprise Mobility

Mobility has become the new norm for the modern enterprise. But how do you enable the infrastructure to handle next-generation mobility demands?

Bill Kleyman

December 7, 2015

5 Min Read
Creating an Infrastructure Strategy for Enterprise Mobility
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

When we think of mobility, our first inclination might be to look at the hand-held device in our pocket. But that view is too limited. The concept of enterprise mobility must now extend into a strategic conversation involving the end-user, how content is consumed, how efficiently it’s being delivered, security capabilities, as well as the end-point device. Most of all, real mobility solutions must directly incorporate a good infrastructure strategy. The strategy should revolve around the company's ability to enable and empower the workforce, giving them greater freedom of access to information and resources.

As users evolve and workloads get more complex, we’ll see an increase in data usage as well as the kinds of devices accessing the modern enterprise data center. Consider this from the latest Cisco Mobile Forecast and Cloud Index reports:

  • Global mobile data traffic will increase nearly tenfold between 2014 and 2019.

  • Because of increased usage of smartphones, smartphones will reach three-quarters of mobile data traffic by 2019.

  • By 2019, mobile-connected tablets will generate nearly double the traffic generated by the entire global mobile network in 2014.

  • Globally, data created by Internet-of-Everything devices will be 277 times higher than the amount of data being transmitted to data centers from end-user devices and 47 times higher than total data center traffic by 2018.

With all of this in mind, how do we create an enterprise infrastructure strategy that’s capable of keeping up? Where do we deploy data center components which directly enable enterprise mobility? To create real-world enterprise mobility, we have to enable our users, the data center, and the overall business. Here are some things to think about when building an infrastructure that supports greater levels of mobility:

Deploy Smarter Networks

Mobility spans much further than a device or an access point. Your network now plays an absolutely critical part in controlling mobility and data created by mobile devices. In fact, intelligent networks can identify the kinds of devices coming in and are able to segment the traffic appropriately. Furthermore, you can directly control how certain types of apps and data sets work within your corporate environment.

Let me give you an example. Platforms like Cisco’s next-gen firewall integrates with wired and wireless systems and can identify thousands of applications. Furthermore, it also identifies more than 75,000 micro-applications, like Farmville on Facebook. The other big aspect is that these kinds of services can also identify the application behavior. Are there anomalies? Is data leaking? Are users posting or sharing things that they’re not supposed to? The other big aspect is the capability to integrate these kinds of security solutions directly into the network backplane. Rogue devices, malicious traffic, and attempted attacks can be stopped quickly when network and security platforms are combined tightly and intelligently.

Intelligent Wireless Access Points and Controllers

Did you know that wireless solutions are outpacing wired platforms? Today, organizations need to understand this very quickly and deploy controls around their mobility platforms. New kinds of access points allow users to roam throughout an entire building, while never dropping the connection. However, on the backend, wireless controllers help track user movements and allow them to connect to resources closest to them: printers, servers, and even IP-based medical equipment.

Furthermore, you begin to create a lot more internal wireless intelligence as well. You can now deploy a wireless network with one single SSID. From there, your wireless platform can identify the device, the user, the content being requested, and even the authentication method. Privileged users will see a broader array of applications and data sets. Guests, for example, will only get access to the internet. The cool part is that you no longer have to use separte wireless SSIDs for guest, admin, doctor, and associate networks. The intelligence is happening in the background.

Finally, you give the user the ability to roam. This means they can go off-site while still being compliant with their mobile device. A doctor, for example, can walk from the hospital to the coffee shop while never dropping a connection. However, once the doctor hops off the enterprise network, they will no longer be able to see protected healthcare information. They may still be able to do a video session, check some records, and be productive, but information that must stay within your organization will always do so.

Enterprise Mobility Management

Working with enterprise mobility management platforms can have a lot of benefits for organizations which are allowing personal devices to connect to internal network components. Scanning for things like rooted or hacked devices and stopping access from malicious software are all MDM/EDM features.

Furthermore, administrators can leverage granular control mechanisms to have better visibility and manageability of end-point devices. If a device is lost or stolen, administrators have the option to wipe only corporate data or the entire device remotely. Remember, these systems can directly integrate into your data center backbone. That means optimization, policies, and even user access can still be centrally managed.

Finally, a good enterprise mobility ecosystem will have a lot of intelligence built into it as well. This means that you can proactively scan user experiences, create adaptive orchestration policies, and ensure optimal user experience while accessing a mobile workspace.

Mobility-Centric Security

There's no silver bullet for all security options out there. New types of threats take aim at mobility ecosystems. This means that traditional storage solutions might not be enough to secure an enterprise mobility initiative. In using mobile-centric next-gen security technologies, organizations have a lot more control over their data, users, and applications. Administrators can now deploy specific security processes on dedicated virtual or physical devices.

For an enterprise mobility initiative, mobility-centric security technologies can help with the following:

  • Capabilities around end-point interrogation

  • Contextual access based on user, device, location, etc.

  • Incorporating firewall rules, policies, and application filters

  • Using virtual security appliances for dedicated mobility monitoring and security

  • Deploying adaptive two-factor authentication methods driven by secure certificates

  • Monitoring, reporting, and log aggregation around mobility utilization and data access

  • Using policies to lock down applications and mobile workloads

Mobility for the modern enterprise will be critical. You’re now supporting a much more agile workforce that’s constantly adapting to market shifts. Most of all, you’re supporting a business model that is also a lot more mobile. The proliferation of devices has moved us into the digital age where IoT and mobility are tools for productivity. To create real mobility best practices, you have to start with an infrastructure strategy. This strategy must be agile, support new use cases, and help you evolve with the fast pace of the industry.

About the Author(s)

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise technology. He also enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues about tech. His published and referenced work can be found on Data Center Knowledge, AFCOM, ITPro Today, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot, and more.

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