Four Zones of Mobile Success (or failure): Part 4, Device User

 

This is the final installment in my four-part series discussing four zones of Mobile Success.  The first post discussed the enterprise zone: the enterprise back end, including mail servers, messaging solution and directory services. The second zone is the enterprise security zone consisting of firewalls, VPN’s and reverse proxy. The third zone I covered was the Internet. All of these function as points of success or failure in mobility.

The final zone is the device user zone, which is probably the zone most prone to failures. The zone consists of the user, device, applications and the local wireless carrier. For many reasons, new devices, replacement devices, provisioning, re-provisioning with the carrier messaging system and enterprise often result in a issue and call to the help-desk. The vast majority of interactions occur in this zone, and the more interactions there are, the more opportunity for errors.

From part three of the series, the Internet Zone; data travels the course of the wireless carrier’s wire, fiber, switches and routers until it reaches a wireless tower associated with a device. Then the tower transmits the data to the device. Because a mobile device is an “always on” device, the associated tower can change and must be maintained throughout the day as you travel to different locations.

In short, the meeting notice I mentioned in part 3 leaves the enterprise and finds the first wired network on-ramp to  a devices carrier, traverses their network to the tower near the device and then wirelessly sends the meeting notice to the device.

How does all this magic happen?  When the phone or tablet is turned on, it looks for a tower to associate with.  Once that happens the carrier notes that user Juanita Doe’s device can communicate through tower XYZ, regardless of where a message traffic originates.

As for points of failure, any of the following could apply at the device level:

  • Failing device hardware
  • Battery that’s low or spent
  • Device out of coverage, weak or no signal
  • First time use or replacement, not provisioned or properly provisioned with the carrier
  • First time use or replacement, not provisioned or properly provisioned with the enterprise
  • Encryption or decryption failures, expired keys
  • Incorrect password
  • Corrupt application service books, policies or certificates on the device
  • Incompatible OS level

Below we have the complete picture of the basic mobile enterprise network again. As demonstrated by the discussion in this series, so much technology has to go right for the basics of wireless and mobile applications to work. It takes even more for an enterprise wireless strategy to be effective and successful. For a strategy to be effective it must include mobile management processes, such as procedures and tools including predictive analytics to detect problems, alert the enterprise administrators and help isolate any issues or failures in the enterprise mobile ecosystem.

As mentioned in Part 1 of the series, As an Architect in Mobility for over 17 years now, I have found this diagram and discussion to be extremely valuable tools.

I believe the 1st incarnation of this was in 2003 when an IBM colleague (Scott Symes) and I had the blackeye’s as we experienced the effects of issues in different zones.  It was BlackBerry at the time, hence we gave it the nickname of “BlackBerry Blackeye” chart.  But, as other technologies have come to market, the essentials are still true today regardless of device manufacturer, operating system or application.  The diagram has been updated and expanded reflect some of these changes as Android, IOS Devices, Messaging, Monitoring and MDM/EMM (Airwatch, IBM/Fiberlink, BlackBerry/Good, MobileIron, Tangoe, Zenprise, etc.) have come along. Others have disappeared or been consolidated.  However, the fundamental issues and the concepts remain constant.  There are many points of success and failure in a Mobile enterprise infrastructure.

A well designed, planned and implemented strategies, infrastructures and applications will prevent  lost sales due to abandoned carts, increase customer loyalty and repeat use.  Will increase employee productivity and prevent  lost investment in the failure of application adoption

In the simplest of terms, success equals good high quality uninterrupted service.  Applications that consider the diverse screen real estate and user interaction. Unresponsiveness due to back-end servers, load balancing or firewall issues, internet network congestion will be seen as the fault of and blamed on the application.

Mobile success, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder or in this case the user.  Therefore, the success of a mobile enterprise infrastructure and whether or not you get a “black-eye” depends on how well these points of failure are understood and managed.

It’s my hope this series, revised from original publication at IBM Mobile Insights, has been and will be helpful to you.  Please leave comments below or contact me on  LinkedIn.

Four Zones of Mobile Success (or failure): Part 3, Internet

Internet

This series of articles describe the four zones of success or failure (points of failure)  in an end-to-end mobile enterprise infrastructure.  In the first part  I discussed the enterprise zone—the enterprise back-end, including mail servers, messaging solution and directory services. In the second part I covered the enterprise security zone, consisting of firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs) and reverse proxy.

The third zone in the journey is the zone where the enterprise has absolutely no control, the Internet zone! The Internet zone stretches out, encircling the globe, a mysterious cloud with an army of routers, switches, wires, fiber and wireless carriers that provide the infrastructure and plumbing to carry your data packets from end to end. It’s the big hop between your enterprise and devices.

Within the Internet zone are two key add-ons: push notification services and network operations centers.

Push notification services: Non-BlackBerry solutions require integration and connectivity to the Apple and Google push services for Apple iOS and Google Android device support.

Network operations center (NOC): Some of the mobile enterprise solutions make use of an NOC concept. The two most notable are BlackBerry and Good Technology. In these solutions all traffic related to their solution passes through the NOC. This has the advantage that the enterprise’s security zone only needs firewall rules to the trusted NOC. The NOC integrates all communications from devices on the various carrier networks.

Like any other link, a broken link affects the chain. However, the NOCs are highly redundant, fault-tolerant configurations that are rarely down. They are so reliable that when an incident occurs the disruption often makes the evening news. As far as point of failure, it is far more likely that your local network connection to the NOC will fail rather than the NOC itself.

The second to last leg of the Internet zone is the wireless carriers (that is if the device is not WiFi connected). Interestingly enough 99 percent of the path of a meeting notice going from server to wireless device is not over wireless. The notice will follow the wired or fiber connections of the Internet and wireless carrier until the meeting notice hits the cell tower nearest the intended device. Wireless carriers have a vast array of switches, routers and wired or fiber networks before anything goes wireless.

Once again, any of these elements can create a point of failure in the communication path. The user perception will be that the mobile device or application is at fault and failing again. As in the first two zones, some monitoring and mobile device management (MDM) or Enterprise Mobility solutions provide tools to help determine these issues.

2017 Update: Today various Mobile analytics tools are available to assist in the identification of a failing node in the network, point of failure.   Don’t let the term analytics put you off.  Often significant data and analysis can be done with just a few lines of code and the tool will do the heavy lifting.  Please refer to my article Demystifying Analytics and a short video example

The next and final zone in the series will be the user zone.

I hope this was helpful, Please leave comments below or contact me on  Linkedin and stay tuned to finish out the series republication.

What Do Sneakers and MDM’s have in Common? The One Thing You Need to Know about Mobile Device Management

It has never been about the device!

To be current, MDM’s, Mobile Device Management systems have evolved beyond Mail, Calendar and Contacts into Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) Suites by including Content, Access and Application  Management with Device Management at the cornerstone.

However, one simple fact remains,  it has never been about the device.  It has always been about the data.  What data can be accessed? by whom? How can it be done to ensure integrity and security.

This becomes absolutely obvious in events that occur every day: a device is accidentally dropped in the dishwater, is fumbles out of your fingers and breaks on the concrete, or is run over by a car.    At that point, do we really care about managing the “device”?   No, from an individual perspective we really only care about the inconvenience but mostly  that we may have lost contacts, pictures and other data that can’t be restored to a replacement device.

The Enterprise concern about a “broken” device is replacement and lost productivity.   A security issue does not exist.  An enterprises main concern is  about the device that’s lost, stolen or compromised so things like this can’t happen.

We all have moments where we temporarily misplace a device or it falls between the bed and night stand.  That’s why there are apps to  to have the device ring out, come find me.  But, at the point that we frantically discover our device is truly missing,  lost or stolen the action we take is is to immediately request that the device be remotely disabled, data wiped and service canceled.   The answer proves once again that it’s not the the device itself that’s important but the data it contains and can access.

From an MDM/EMM perspective, for all intents and purposes the device you carry is simply a black box.  An MDM/EMM is really a means to protect data or securely rendering content on the device by manipulating device features through security policies that control access to the data, should the device get into the wrong hands. Now that was a long sentence, with a lot of meaning, so let me break it down:

  • We’ve already established that what’s on the device that can’t be restored is more important than the physical device itself.
  • What is of real concern is what data can be accessed or transferred by the device, in the right or wrong hands.

Whats needed is :

  • An understanding of how to manage, secure and protect a device and it’s data.
  • To understand the business, it’s data, concepts and assets that need protection.
  • To adopt a business strategy determine the processes and data to extend to mobile employees.
  • A mobile strategy to utilize the most appropriate software, tools, methods and devices to securely implement the business strategy.
  • Understand the various employee roles and associated access needs to business processes, applications, data, and the protection needs for corporate and employee owned devices.

Discussing MDM is not really much different than when friends and family who know I work at IBM ask me, “What computer should I buy?” or “What’s the best smartphone to get?” My first question to them is, “What to you want to do with it?” For my wife and a couple of cousins, a mobile device is only used to make phone calls. No texting, no apps, nothing.  For them, why get a smartphone and data plan? Another cousin wants a device to support her medical research. In that case,  how about a reasonably powerful laptop with sufficient storage?

Again, It’s not about the device—the phone, smartphone, tablet or 2 in 1 computer.   It’s about you—what you need to do as an individual or business, what data and applications you will be working with, what and how much needs to be protected, who needs access, where and when. These things will be the foundation of a strategy, which will determine the applications and supporting software infrastructure needed, which will determine which devices best render that data to your employees and customers, which will lead you to the MDM solution that allows you to seamlessly provide protected data to those who need it, where they need it, when they need it.

The bottom line with MDM: it’s never been about the device. Just as Cosmo (Ben Kingsley) told Marty (Robert Redford) in the 1992 movie “Sneakers” , “It’s not about who’s got the most bullets [the tools]. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think … it’s all about the information!”

Its the same with MDM, the enterprise needs to control or manage “the information”, the data, it’s content and access.  I helped establish these services while at IBM using IBM and Vendor MDM/EMM tools.

It was “Cosmo’s” dream come true, “It’s about who controls the information”, and with MDM/EMM’s,  YOU manage,  protect and control the enterprises information.

To learn more, ‘Gartner’ typically a publishes an MDM (now EMM) report annually called the “Magic Quadrant” containing details about product and service providers.  A free copy of the current (2016 )report can be viewed at this link or from EMM Vendor websites.

I hope this was helpful, Please leave comments below or contact me on  Linkedin or any means appropriate for you.

Including comments about the movie ‘Sneakers’.  Full Disclosure,  I loved the movie, I own a copy,  Dan Aykroyd‘s character,  ‘Mother’ is too funny.                 My voice is my passport, Verify

Telecomm Expense Management, Riddle me this, When is TEM not TEM?

When it’s MDM or EMM.

Several mobile device management (MDM/EMM) products have a feature that is suggestive of Telecom Expense Management (TEM) but is still far from being a significant or complete  telecom expense saving solution. MDM/EMM product features offer an limited opportunity to reduce a few specific types of mobile expenses such as “roaming” charges and unused/under used devices  While these features focus on a subset of devices they do have value. However, these features  should not be confused with a true telecom expense management system that offers a broad range of significant saving opportunities across all devices.

I don’t intend to detract the value of the isolated and limited expense features of MDM/EMM solutions, but I want to put them in the proper context of a mobile telecom expense management perspective.  In this post, I will explain the savings features of an MDM/EMM, how they differ from a TEM and why an effective TEM generates larger savings.  …

How do MDM/EMM and TEM Differ?
To start with Expense is TEM’s middle name. MDM/EMM manages devices and TEM manages expenses.

How do MDM/EMM features help manage telecom spending?
The most popular MDM/EMM expense feature is “roaming notification” or alerts.

Roaming is when you are using your wireless device in an area not covered by your home carrier but that of a “local” carrier. In agreement with your home carrier, signal coverage is provided by a local carrier at a premium cost, allowing you to continue using your device as if nothing has happened. In the Past, you’d typically, get the next  month’s bill  with some surprisingly huge charges from the network providers on which you roamed. Very little can be done after the fact to get those charges reduced.

Fortunately, today US carriers as well as other countries and regions have agreements within local boundaries, and users won’t have such surprise additional fees and is less of a concern.

Unless they travel Internationally!  With International travel, all bets are off. You exit the plane, turn on your phone and it get picked up by a foreign carrier. Before you know it, you’ve agreed to pay astronomical roaming charges. It is not unusual for a typical $100 monthly bill to become a few thousand dollars. Regular travelers can simply pay modest extra amount for an international calling plan and get a reasonable monthly rate (but much higher than a standard rate).  Depending on the carrier, sometimes you can get an international rate just for the month potentially saving thousands.

MDM/EMM’s can detect that an individual is roaming off the home network and generates a user alert so the individual can choose to continue or not. The MDM/EMM solution may also send an an alert to administrators, which may be able to assist the user in getting an international plan before incurring extra expenses.  It’s limited, but can be significant preventing a few occasions may justify the feature.  It may be more effective to identify frequent international travelers and update their plans.

The other main claim of MDM/EMM’s is that they can identify most active users and least active users.  MDM/EMM solutions can create usage reports that management can act upon by changing heavy user plans or removing low-use users.  Some reports only reflect messaging use not voice.  Therefore, it is important to define the usage base.

These features are real and have real value but are not, “real” mobile telecom expense management (TEM) systems.

How is mobile Telecom Expense Management different?

Mobile Telecom Expense Management is by far a more robust end-to-end lifecycle concept. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Do you know how much you’re spending? If not, dollar signs might as well be spewing from the tablets and mobile devices in your infrastructure.
  • Is your organization getting the best rate plans available for your size?
  • Are the carriers actually billing you at the proper rates? Applying discounts?
  • Do Joe and Mary, who have the same devices, have the same plans? Same features? Are they billed at the same rates?
  • How are you ensuring your employees get the right devices, features and plans?
  • How do you dispute issues or incorrect bills and ensure you get credit?

If you’re unsure about any of these, a true mobile telecom expense management assessment and service can help provide answers.
A TEM service typically quickly begins saving money and has a short breakeven point.

With a telecom expense management, you can help reduce telecom expenses by typically 10 to 20 percent and increase control over voice, data and wireless costs. Typical payback ranges from three to nine months.

How TEM works
TEM typically starts with an optimization and expense review of all invoices, statements and bills for the past three months. This exercise can determine how much you are overpaying for mobile services.  Mobile TEM is a mobile device lifecycle management service. A few of its key attributes are that the TEM service can:

  • Based on its industry benchmarking, negotiate rates, terms and conditions with your carriers on your behalf, resulting substantial savings
  • Process your monthly invoices, audit to verify accuracy and even process payment to the carrier, reducing your burden and costs
  • Manage disputes and ensure proper credit if an invoice is found to be in error
  • Facilitate usage by assisting in the development of user personas and profiles identifying classes of need and arranging for plans that fit the profiles; or on a larger scale helping purchase bulk minutes, data and text at lower rates and then allocating to individuals and apportioning those reduced costs down to organization or department levels
  • Provide a user portal for employees to select approved devices, rate plans, services, accessories and so on, and process them, including approvals, submitting and tracking orders with the carrier, ensuring shipment to the user and proper activation and provisioning

Comparing MDM/EMM and TEM solutions
The complete TEM  picture is above and you can’t get these services and associated savings from an MDM/EMM. MDM/EMM’s are necessary and have their own value proposition.

But an MDM/EMM alone can’t tell you if you were billed incorrectly, inform you that you’re eligible for a device upgrade, order a device and more.MDM/EMM and TEM complement each other and in many cases can be integrated

IBM had a long history of TEM Services prior to the Wireless age.  Keep in mind Mobile TEM only relates to the devices connecting to cell towers.  True TEM includes all the other connections (wired) supporting a business on the internet, including switches, routers and  gateways

Tangoe enhanced capabilities in 2015 when by purchasing IBM’s Emptoris Rivermine Telecom Expense Management,  A software solution which provided expense data is in a single database managed from a single system not one for fixed and one for Mobile. When TEM is integrated with an MDM/EMM solution, it can Leverage the MDM/EMM to also lock or wipe devices and to reset passwords.  GSGtelco has a strong reputation for pulling together TEM,  Device Life Cycle Management and Cloud Hosted MDM/EMM.  MOBI and other Solid vendors are available.

However independent TEM information is scarce these days,  Gartner has not written a Magic Quadrant for Telecom Expense Management since March 29, 2012  even access to the 2013,  report on critical capabilities for TEM has expired. While Gartner has published  a paper “Competitive Landscape: Independent Telecom Expense Management Providers, 2016“,  at $1,295, I have not found one of its providers sponsoring free access.

To learn to know more about TEM and how TEM services can reduce your costs and increase your bottom line?  I suggest reviewing:

 

 

 

The four zones of mobile success (or failure): Part 1, enterprise zone

“updated slightly from original publication in IBM Mobile Insights, December 2013, content still holds true”

The IT Managers nightmare !

It’s 2am, the phone by your bed wakes you. It’s only 11pm in “Next to Nowhere by the Trees”, Oregon.  The CEO is just getting back to his hotel from the big meeting and dinner with a client. He needs to stay another day, wants to rearrange his schedule and see if the inventory update came in and His device hasn’t updated in 3 hours; Where O Where can the problem be?

This series will discuss four “zones” of success or failure in an end-to-end mobile enterprise infrastructure.  The diagram below represents the typical end-to-end mobile enterprise network containing four zones: enterprise, security, Internet, and user zones.

2017 Note: for the purpose of illustration I’m using “mail” as the end to end application.  In reality, this directly relates to other B2B, B2Eor B2C business critical applications, website, storefront, claim processing, etc.  

All of these zones must be working properly for the successful daily use of mobile devices in the enterprise. However, they are not all under the control of the enterprise, and a failure of any one of the elements in a zone can cause an inability to perform daily enterprise activities on mobile devices.

We have all heard the help desk cries:

  • I can’t activate my BlackBerry! iPhone or new S7…
  • I stopped getting mail to my iPad!
  • My calendar won’t sync to my device!

Mobile infrastructure administrators and help desks hear these statements day in and day out. But they never hear:

  • My new iPhone 7 has been running fine for weeks!
  • I never have any trouble getting to my applications on the iPad!
  • I can work just as well with my tablet on the road as I can in the office!

—even if they are outside the control of mobile IT—mobile IT gets the blame because the user perceives that the servers or applications are not working. The chart above is sometimes called the mobile IT “black eye chart” because no matter the failure mobile IT gets the black eye for the trouble.

Only one thing has to go wrong in the enterprise network in order to get messages of frustration from users, like those in my first list.  But a lot has to go right in order to hear the other positive message “silence”.

The enterprise zone

For my first blog post in this series I will discuss the enterprise zone. The enterprise zone consists of the enterprise infrastructure servers—those boxes in the server farm or room.

The back-end infrastructure that exists in the enterprise zone (but not in the diagram) is the server farm itself: the racks, servers, storage, switches, cables, network, cooling, power and so on that the mobility application infrastructure runs on. Each is a possible point of failure that can potentially be immobilizing.

For the purposes of a mobility discussion it is assumed that the enterprise back-end application to be accessed by mobile devices is the typical mail, calendar and contacts. Therefore the enterprise zone for mobility would typically be the following servers: mail, mobile messaging, mobile messaging control, active directory or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) services for authentication and an SQL database to contain all the data about the mobile users, and in some cases a monitoring server.

The scenario also assumes that the enterprise zone is connected to the Internet for data flow to from the mail servers to devices through the Internet. This brings up the very first element of success or failure of the mobile infrastructure: the mail server.

The mail server, typically Lotus Domino or MS Exchange, is the heart of this and most scenarios. It is where all device-destined data originates. Again we make an assumption that everything is working in the infrastructure to ensure that data can flow into an individual’s mailbox on the server. When the mail server is down, is unavailable, has lost connectivity or is having other functional issues, the mobility infrastructure cannot begin to deliver data to devices. If it’s down long enough, it will begin to result in calls for help desk tickets indicating that the user is having trouble getting mail on a BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Windows phone or Android device. Quite simply, any issue with the mail server will be perceived by the user as a problem with the mobile technology.

The mobile messaging server (Lotus Traveler, BlackBerry, Good, MobileIron, Airwatch and so on) polls the mail server to determine if anything needs to be sent to the user device and forwards items created on the device to the mail server.

Mobile control server is a component of the mobile messaging solution. It manages the messaging servers and handles device enrollment. Device policy management in some cases provides the virtual private network (VPN) for the messaging service.

The Active Directory (AD) or LDAP server is an essential element of an infrastructure that is essentially the enterprise address book of all users. It is an essential part of enterprise security, managing the enterprise ID’s passwords, permissions and so forth. Any issues related to directory services will result in request failures in the mobility critical path and again simply be perceived by the user as a problem with the mobile technology.

Issues with the mail, messaging, control or AD/LDAP servers will result in issues for users. However, there are numerous times when these servers are fully functional and another component of the end-to-end infrastructure causes the user’s activity to fail.

The reality is, the average user will not even know a control or AD component exists and will blame mobility (more often than mail) as the issue, since they don’t understand which link in the chain is currently broken. Mobility apps by Traveler, BlackBerry, Good Technology, MobileIron or AirWatch are the most blamed and maligned element of the mobile infrastructure. This is simply because it’s the element the user is attempting to use and therefore must be the problem.

It is critical to an enterprise to have tools in place for monitoring, such as mobile device management (MDM) to identify, isolate and assist in resolving issues in the above components that are within the enterprise control.

More Importantly for 2017 and beyond as some monitoring tools have gone by the wayside the role of active and passive Analytics will be drivers in determining points of failure and success.

The next area discussed is the enterprise security zone.  share your thoughts below and stay tuned for more in my “Four zones of mobile success (or failure)” series.