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Mobility is on the precipice of radically changing enterprise IT as we know it

Linda Musthaler | Jan. 20, 2015
If your organisation isn't already on the mobility bandwagon, you are falling behind the curve of increased productivity and innovation.

Ojas Rege, vice president of strategy for MobileIron, believes we are in the midst of radical shifts in architecture, operations and governance as the PC economy fades. These shifts, he says, will force companies to rethink everything we know today about enterprise IT, and he suggests mobility should become the center of your architecture.

I recently had a chat with Rege about where mobility is taking corporate computing and his ideas are enlightening.

Rege argues that there are two dominant factors that will drive these shifts. First, the fundamentals of operating system architecture have changed as we transition from PCs to smart phones and tablets. And second, there have been significant role changes in our end user communities.

Let's look at the case that Rege has built to support his hypothesis.

We have three dominant mobile platforms today: iOS, Android and Windows 8. Compared to the Win32 PC operating system, these mobile platforms have quite a different architecture that, according to Rege, actually makes the devices easier to manage. (He notes that Android is going through some significant changes right now and that Google Work will make the platform much more secure for the future.)

There are three major changes in the OS as you go from Win32 to iOS/Android/Windows 8 and up:

  1. The move from an open file system to application sandboxing
  2. The switch from an unprotected to a protected OS kernel
  3. The move from untrusted to trusted management primitives

In the Win32 world of the PC, the file system is open, making it possible for applications to access each other's information. Data is not tied to a single application and this introduces the potential for viruses and data corruption/loss. Additionally, applications can access system processes. All of this makes device security a real nightmare. Hence the need for all sorts of endpoint protections, which, all too often, fail us.

The mobile platforms have a sandboxed application architecture. This means that every application on the device is isolated from every other application. What's more, data is tied to a specific application, so it's not going to leak over to some other application that is going to steal it off the device. This eliminates application conflicts and the "DLL hell" of the PC world. With regard to the OS kernel, the mobile platforms have a protected operating system kernel, which drives platform stability. Patches and updates to the OS come from the device manufacturer instead of from an organization's IT department.

The third point above has to do with who is trusted to interact with the device for security and management. For example, say you want to wipe a device clean. On a traditional PC, pretty much anyone - or anything, such as a virus - can do that if they know the proper commands to execute. On a mobile device, the operating system exposes a set of management primitives to trusted platforms like MDM applications, which can interact with the system level to wipe the device or perform other management tasks.


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