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Asia to see rising mobile management challenges

The availability of cheap mobile devices means more workers will bring these to work, and CIOs in the region should address the pressing challenge by completely reviewing their existing mobile and security policies.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor on

SAN FRANCISCO--A flood of cheap devices in countries such as India and China will make technology more accessible to the masses and accelerate the consumerization trend. This means companies in the region are likely to see increased urgency in addressing the related challenges.

According to Michael Thompson, director of business strategy, virtualization and storage at SolarWinds, the availability of cheaper consumer devices such as tablets and smartphones manufactured in the region will only drive adoption at the workplace, which will present mounting obstacles to chief information officers (CIOs). In a report in February, NDP In-Stat research had forecast that by 2015, lower-cost Android smartphones would account for 80 percent of mobile devices in emerging markets such as India, China, and Africa.

Thompson was commenting on remarks made by a CEO panel discussion at VMworld on Tuesday, which included outgoing VMware CEO Paul Maritz; his soon-to-be successor Pat Gelsinger, and Dell CEO Michael Dell.

The panel highlighted that companies would need a top-to-bottom review in mindset to handle the challenges brought about by consumerization, which is being driven by the next generation of workers. In particular, they would need to relook policies regarding mobile devices, security, and their approach in transitioning effectively to the cloud.

Dell noted that although the new tools would allow innovation by enabling new ways of doing work, they would come with challenges too such as the need for a new type of security. He said this was also a concern within his company as the proportion of mobile workers grow steadily.

Changing security landscape in mobile
One of the key challenges, highlighted by Maritz, was understanding how the security landscape has changed. He pointed out that security was developing on two fronts.

One is where it was previously focused on controls and checks on physical boundaries, to now looking more at logical boundaries controlling the flow of information. As such, he pointed out there would be a growing interest in corporate offerings for the virtual segmentation of information in handsets.

The challenge is in finding a balance between security and allowing innovation, but it is a "moving balance", said Maritz, refering to the dynamic environment. "What we have to do is give a service that is convenient to users, and also educate them about having some boundaries."

The second evolution of security is it becoming "behavioral", where it would need to work more like fraud detection, the CEO pointed out.

"For example, security would check if [certain activities are] normal behavior, such as on a bank Web site. If it's from an unusual IP (Internet Protocol) address and involves a high value transaction, the risk profile of this would shoot up the roof," Maritz explained.

Ryan Huang of ZDNet Asia reported from VMworld 2012 in San Francisco, United States.

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