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Moving mobile support to the cloud

With your users spread all over the world, it's time to consider a cloud-based mobility management solution.

If users are traveling all over the world, it may make sense to consider a cloud-based mobility management solution. We'll explore the benefits and drawbacks of managing mobile devices and users via hosted services.

It is said that you learn more about a person or an organization under adverse conditions, as opposed to when things are going well.

This is just as true for IT support operations as it is for anything else, especially when most or all of the users are remote and using mobile devices to access corporate information. Out there, far from a corporate office, delivering IT support to users and their devices becomes a far greater challenge. Those who perform best under those circumstances not only deliver an extraordinary user experience, they also contribute significantly to their organization's mission and bottom line.

Part of the challenge comes from thinking that mobile IT support is limited to the mobile device.

Many levels of mobile support

Achieving mobile computing requires multiple layers of technology and services that neither begin nor end with the mobile device:

Users - At the far end of the mobile computing process are the users who wish to access information, communicate, and use applications. While most would immediately think that support personnel are required to support end-users, a great deal of user support can be accomplished using cloud-delivered automation. Look at the frequently asked questions. Automating the process of retrieving or changing lost passwords may resolve as much as two-thirds of support requests. Providing automated access to common questions often speeds resolution and improves satisfaction.

For those situations in which people do need actual people to help solve problems, cloud-based platforms like Microsoft Intune include global presence with 24/7 Microsoft support available online and by phone worldwide.

Devices - Cloud-based support provides a highly-effective device management platform by automating the processes most prone to user error or other failure. Platforms like Intune provide employees with the ability to register, enroll, and manage their devices -- as well as install corporate applications -- from the self-service Company Portal. And it doesn't matter whether they're using Windows, Android, Apple iOS or other devices. With Intune's access policies, you can restrict users from accessing corporate resources on an unenrolled or noncompliant device. You can also apply device settings that can trigger remote actions such as passcode reset, device lock, data encryption, or full or segmented wipe of a lost or stolen device.

Another consideration is damaged, lost, or stolen devices from the perspective of continuity of operation. A user in the field requires immediate replacement, not repair. With some global-scale carriers, it may be most efficient to arrange for in-store swap or replacement. User data and applications could then be restored from corporate backup servers.

Applications - Smartphone and tablet users have long been accustomed to downloading software from a cloud-based app store. In a corporate setting, some applications will require more security and authorization than others. A solid cloud-based management platform will enable you to control which devices may or may not download specific apps, and to wipe managed apps and their data on devices that are unenrolled, lost, stolen, retired, or otherwise out of compliance.

Data - At the end of the day, it's all about protecting the data, whether in motion or at rest. The most effective way to achieve optimal protection is to encrypt all data at all times and manage encryption keys tightly. Data resident on mobile devices must not only be protected, it must also be kept segmented from the user's personal data, especially in bring your own device (BYOD) situations where device-wipe must be selective to only corporate assets to avoid potential user litigation.

Network - A comprehensive cloud-based enterprise mobility and security (EMS) solution also protects all network resources involved in supporting mobile device use. This includes identity and role-based access control, single sign-in, unified on-premises and cloud resource directory management, and more.

In the distributed-resource world of cloud computing, we've seen how single-location resources such as storage appliances often create bottlenecks. With the support-velocity requirements of mobile users, single-location support resources also introduce significant latency into an environment that can ill afford it. Structuring your support strategy around cloud-based resources with maximum automation will provide consistent productivity levels and higher user satisfaction by minimizing downtime.