Michael Finneran
Michael F. Finneran, is President of dBrn Associates, Inc., a full service advisory firm specializing in wireless and mobility; services...
Read Full Bio >>

Michael Finneran | January 23, 2012 |


IBM Goes Wide and Deep on Mobility

IBM Goes Wide and Deep on Mobility Mobility managers with large numbers of devices and applications to support, particularly those in companies with an investment in Lotus Notes, should keep IBM in their game plan.

Mobility managers with large numbers of devices and applications to support, particularly those in companies with an investment in Lotus Notes, should keep IBM in their game plan.

I just returned from 3 days at IBM's annual Lotusphere conference in Orlando, and while IBM is focusing primarily on bringing social media concepts into business processes, particularly with their Connections product, there is a mobility element into everything they do. However, IBM doesn't do anything from just one angle, and behind the scenes the company has been developing a raft of mobile security, device management, and applications development tools.

The one problem with IBM's mobility offerings is that they have so many of them and they all have names that provide no clue as to what they actually do. Fortunately I got to spend some time with Rob Ingram, Senior Manager, Mobile Social Business Strategy, who moderated the session "Strategy in Action: IBM Mobile for Social Business", and he walked me through the forest.

First, IBM does offer mobile clients for the Apple iOS and Android platforms under the name Sametime Mobile Client; their partner RIM offers one for the BlackBerry platform. The iOS and Android clients got an upgrade this past August and now offer presence and IM (individual and group with picture capabilities), as well as push notifications, so a user who has been off-line receives alerts regarding text or other items received as soon as they log in. The network (e.g. Apple's Push Notification Server) doesn't deliver the actual message, only the "alert". The user connects to Sametime when they are back on line and the message is delivered directly over a secure connection.

With that upgrade, IBM also included location-based presence on the Android implementation, so the user's location can be provided along with their presence status. For privacy reasons, the user has the ability to limit which colleagues are allowed to see that location.

However, IBM's offerings reach into several other areas of mobility. First, there is Lotus Notes Traveler, IBM's push email and PIM (personal information manager) synching capability. Like Microsoft's Exchange Active Sync (EAS), Traveler also provides some basic mobile device management (MDM) capabilities like policy enforcement, remote wipe (partial and full), plus the ability to block unencryptable transmissions and deactivate the device’s camera (on iOS devices).

For MDM capabilities beyond Notes Traveler, IBM is rolling out the Tivoli End Point Manager. An extension to the Tivoli Management Framework that provides hardware and software inventory and software distribution capabilities for large networks of desktops and laptops, the End Point Manager will extend those capabilities for mobile devices. The product is based on IBM's acquisition of BigFix, Inc. in July of last year, and the Tivoli End Point Manager will support iOS, Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone devices.

While it can detect "jailbroken" (iOS) and "rooted" (Android) devices, the Tivoli End Point Manager still doesn't include an "internal app store" function, though IBM has developed (but not yet productized) that capability and uses it on its own internal network. Detecting "jailbroken" or "rooted" devices is critically important for enterprise security because those compromised devices can allow non-sanctioned software to be loaded on someone’s personal device. It also supports application blacklisting to prevent specific applications from being installed.

Further on the security front, IBM is upgrading a legacy mobility product called Lotus Mobile Connect (LMC). Originally developed for laptops, LMC provides a secure tunnel between the mobile device and the corporate network with the ability to maintain that security as the user roams across 3G/4G and Wi-Fi networks; that security is FIPS 140-2 compliant. This is similar to the persistent wireless connectivity provided by NetMotion Wireless. LMC can do clientless secure proxy access for any device, and they are evaluating a future client for Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) VPN APIs.

IBM is looking at other options for remote security. In the IBM Labs pavilion, developers were showing a further enhancement to LMC that would provide secure access on an application-by-application basis. Using a VPN secure tunnel connection might not be good enough for all enterprise users, according to IBM; the problem is that once the secure tunnel is established, any application on the mobile device can access the enterprise network through it. So if the user has installed a compromised application, that secure tunnel just gave it access to the entire corporate network.

Most MDM solutions address this concern with application white/blacklisting, but the IBM developers feel that might not be not proactive enough, as there can be a time lag before a blacklisted application is identified. With this capability, access for a particular application can be cut off immediately. This enhancement will work with the core LMC capability, allowing a user to roam across multiple wireless networks with the secure tunnel intact and without requiring the user to reauthenticate.


May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.