Previous articles in this series looked at mobile enterprise applications including technologies, a development approach, and a number of solutions based on commercial products. This article identifies some of the challenges that an organization will face when deploying mobile enterprise applications, and suggests some possible solutions.
Some of the main challenges to achieving enterprise mobility include the following:
Management of devices
Synchronization of mobile and enterprise data
Network quality of service
To help make your project a success, explicitly recognize and address these issues, perhaps in the form of a risk management plan.
Managing the ever-swelling ranks of mobile devices is becoming a major headache for enterprises. An ad hoc approach can be costly in the long run, both in terms of lost data and reduced productivity. If your organization uses mobile technologies, now is the time to grab the bull by the horns, and define a policy for managing devices and the software and data that reside on them. Some of the issues here are the following:
Backup and restoration of data
Mobile asset management consists of purchasing, tracking, maintaining, and retiring the enterprise mobile devices, software, and peripherals. Somewhat ironically, a PDA itself can be used to ease the job of recording and updating asset information. ScanSmart offers a barcode-based, asset-tracking system that uses Palm devices to scan barcode labels affixed to your assets.
Software distribution to mobile devices can be a painful task if not automated. Products such as the On Command CCM product from On Technology provide remote installs and updates to both networked computers and hand-helds.
Backing up and restoring data in the event of a disaster is rarely handled adequately in an organization that takes an ad hoc approach to device management. Backup software is available for most mobile platforms, including Palm and Pocket PC. This will become even more important as memory and storage capabilities increase.
Perhaps the ideal tool for device management is an integrated product that provides software distribution, asset tracking, and backup and restore. This has the advantage of a single management console as well as coupling software asset management with software updates. Xcellenet offers such a product: Afaria supports all these functions and runs on laptops, Palms, Blackberry pagers, and Pocket PC devices.