The intersection of the wildly popular cloud and mobility trends is creating new opportunities as well as challenges for IT leaders.
On the one hand, more businesses than ever are adopting cloud computing to deliver and charge for IT services and functionality. Demand for cloud-based mobile applications – a function of the explosive growth of mobile devices – is up some 88% in the last five years and will likely continue to grow rapidly, according to Juniper Research.
This extraordinary tech shift also promises to put new pressure on IT to consider how to unite strategies for bringing mobile access to various internal apps, cloud apps and web apps.
The cloud is obviously changing the way that mobile applications are developed and used within the enterprise.
But while the combination of mobility and the cloud promises new ways for employees to collaborate and access business applications from virtually anywhere and at any time, IT leaders still need to consider the following:
* How robust are your network capabilities and data security requirements? Are they sufficiently developed to allow the transfer of applications to a hosted model or software-as-a-service solution where the application itself resides in the cloud? As corporate software development budgets for mobile apps increase, issues with scaling and managing growth will inevitably crop up, especially as more mobile workers access cloud-based data and applications.
* Most cloud platforms can be secured with SSL and digital certificates. Still, data security for mobile devices remains an issue – especially when devices are stolen or go missing. Also, maintaining data integrity could present challenges when users sync devices with the cloud. If someone’s updating a document and forgets to sync it back to the cloud, other users will get stuck with the older version.
* How do you provide multi-platform access to private cloud networks? That can prove challenging across complex private cloud architectures.
* How do our security policies need to evolve? Security remains the proverbial work in progress. Concerns about the security of various cloud computing solutions and the risk of unauthorized access as well as concerns over data integrity protection ranked No. 1 in an IDC cloud survey of nearly 1,700 technology decision makers. One option is to provide for remote management of mobile devices with tools like encryption and passwords to create “enterprise sandboxes” that keep personal data separate from corporate data. But no matter what the company policy is, your people are still going to use their mobile devices both for professional and personal use.
* Are you ready to embrace on-premises or cloud-based mobile device management, which is increasingly becoming baked into iOS and Android? (To a great extent, the answer will depend on the amount of control you’re seeking over the MDM infrastructure versus a cloud-based approach.)
* Is your infrastructure prepared for an enterprise BYOD policy where data gets sent and pulled in from an assortment of mobile devices?
* Accessing the cloud via mobile devices can turn problematic for collaboration. Many mobile platforms don’t have sophisticated document editing tools. Also, there are limited options for multi-party videoconferencing with document sharing over the cloud.
* Network infrastructure must be sufficiently strong to maintain a constant connection; otherwise, the cloud app is effectively useless. (This may become less problematic with the use of HTML5, which enables data caching so that a mobile cloud application can continue to function even during an outage.)
Addressing these issues will help IT turn cloud and mobility into a new “power couple” that drives business innovation and growth.