Mobile Access to the Cloud: Avoid Data and Cash Leakages

Companies are making a big bet on moving software, storage, and other resources into the cloud. Their motivation is both financial and operational. For one thing, the cloud’s consumption-based pay model reduces the capital enterprises spend on IT systems and software. And turning over IT maintenance and technology refresh to a third party means that software and systems are updated automatically. Cloud customers always have the latest technology without having to worry about ripping and replacing systems or keeping software versions current themselves.

The potential gotcha is that the cloud model assumes ubiquitous access to the Internet. Combine this with the trend toward mobility, and IT teams building mobile strategies might find themselves in a pickle. That’s because many rely on mobile workers to manage their own connectivity.

When mobile workers manually establish their own connectivity to the cloud they might choose network options that degrade services and, in turn, overall mobility benefits. Unbudgeted access costs and security holes can emerge, because mobile employees might make expensive and unsecured connectivity choices.  This is why cloud-based environments require a transparent mobile management policy strategy – one that affords IT visibility into and automated control over the ways users access the cloud.

For example, a mobile worker with an unlimited 3G/4G subscription should avoid expensing hotel Wi-Fi when in an area covered by a wireless WAN provider. Conversely, that user should be paying for Wi-Fi when traveling internationally to avoid much larger 3G/4G international roaming fees. Building these policies right into a mobile client on the user’s device means these decisions can automatically be made for overall savings and greater return on the mobile investment.

Same thing for security. Mobile data can be at risk because of malicious Web sites, downloads of malicious software, and the use of open and unencrypted networks. These threats continue despite existing security solutions when the process of connecting to both wired and wireless networks is left up to users. Automated policies that keep users off certain network types and Web sites helps avoid risk associated with poor user judgment.

The moral of the story is to have some type of central mobile management policy system in place to automate the “right” network connectivity decisions. That helps you address cost control and security issues as users hop from network to network while accessing cloud resources.

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