Data compartmentalisation: connecting the mobile fleet

By John Martin, principal technologist, NetApp ANZ

The evolution of mobile technology in the workplace has been unprecedentedly rapid. Many business users remember the days when the humble mobile phone was little more than a simple tool, capable only of placing and receiving calls. Now, we rely on highly converged devices we would feel naked without.

There is no doubt that mobile devices in the workplace offer individual employees enhanced convenience and productivity, but for many IT managers, the trend has been a headache. It presents challenges in curtailing data leakage and preventing increased costs. On top of this, end users are unwittingly compromising the security of company data, adopting consumer-grade cloud services in order to access corporate files and documents from any location, and on any device.

Most mobile devices are designed primarily for consumers, with the end-user taking on responsibility for the management of the content stored on the device. They can consume content from public sources and allow data to be accessed via web browsers, cloud based email systems and media libraries. Any security measures only serve to prevent misuse at the device level, with implementation focussed on useability, rather than enterprise-class security protection.

In the past, companies have tried to overcome the challenges of BYOD by owning two separate devices, one for work and the other for personal. But the issue with this approach is clear: this would be a step backwards. It wasn’t that long ago that people carried separate PDAs, phones, cameras and music players, but now these functionalities have converged in a single, sophisticated device. Why would employees willingly choose to miss out on this far more compelling user experience?

Forcing employees to carry two devices only makes it more likely that they will use consumer cloud solutions, to access corporate information on their personal devices. Managing and maintaining more than one device also has repercussions when it comes to employee productivity, staff satisfaction, and ongoing maintenance costs for the organisations.  

This approach is insufficient for enterprises today. To truly realise the potential of the connected global enterprise, businesses require solutions that combine the best consumer mobile experience with enterprise governance of data.

To bring about a solution to these challenges, NetApp has partnered with several leading providers operating in this space. The brainchild of this partnership, NetApp Connect, offer businesses secure, instant, and easy mobile access to data stored on NetApp systems. It integrates effortlessly into a NetApp environment without the hassles of authentication tools of VPN setup, and all data remains completely on-premise as employees enjoy their consumer-style mobile user experience.

This compartmentalisation of data on a single device is made possible by encrypted hacker-proof containers and mobile information management software, which enables corporate data to be segregated across applications, rather than devices. This allows for additional security measures protecting access to sensitive data to be implemented. For instance, users might be required to input a corporate username and password, or an authentication number to access particular applications.

NetApp Connect makes it simple to centrally manage mobile access, enabling enterprise data to be instantly crypto-shredded if the device is lost, or when the employee leaves the company.