Securely deliver apps to a mobile workforce

A Technical White Paper on Empowering a Mobile Workforce

The advent of smart-phones has put an end to many things: postal mail has been replaced with email, calendars and watches are becoming a thing of the past, and digital cameras have taken a hit. A major transformation in the IT segment is the evolution of a mobile workforce. Gone are the days when employees had to sit at their desks to complete their work. Employees can now work from anywhere, anytime, and from any device. While a mobile enterprise brings new business opportunities, it comes with challenges; managing diversified platforms, delivering Windows apps to non-Window devices, and complying with security and data regulations. This white paper talks about how Parallels Remove Application Server (RAS) addresses these challenges, and helps enable a secure mobile workforce.

The Evolution of Mobile Phones and BYOD Networks

Mobile devices have become an part of life. What used to be a simple calling device, a smart-phone has emerged into a multi-purpose unit; enabling voice, video, and text communications with office automation, scheduling, and imaging as well. Mobile devices are increasingly being used in business networks. According to MarketsandMarkets research, the BYOD market value was $67.21 billion in 2011. This market value is expected to reach $266.17 billion by 2019. North America is the largest market for BYOD with 36.10%.

Interestingly, 80% of corporate LANs will soon become obsolete if companies have to recreate networking to accommodate 300% more access points. Looking at these values, it is clear that IT is swiftly turning toward a mobile world. According to a 2014 Forrester report about The State of Mobile Enterprise, laptops account for 51% of mobile devices, while the smart-phones and tablets share 40% and 19% respectively.

Benefits of a Mobile Work Force

Increased Efficiency

A mobile workforce delivers improved efficiencies to business procedures. It eliminates the need to hire only local talent. Regardless of the location, you can hire the best resource for your business.

Increased Productivity

The flexibility to work from anywhere and anytime boosts productivity. Commuting time can be put into work, and location does not hinder an employee from accessing resources. Employees can use any available device to connect to corporate networks.

Reduced Costs

A mobile workforce eliminates the need for large offices or IT infrastructures. With lower overhead, Capex and Opex can be reduced and more ROI can be achieved.

Flexible Operations

Mobile technology is especially useful for managers. They can move between departments virtually, and proactively communicate with employees through their mobile device. Employees can even be productive during network downtimes with mobile data access.

Reduced Attrition

Another major benefit for businesses is reduced absenteeism and attrition rate. With the flexibility to use their personal devices, employees are happier.

Challenges with a Mobile Workforce

Along with a revolutionary transformation, the mobile workforce brings a few challenges as well.

Managing Diversified Platforms

Mobile workforce environments bring a diversified range of devices into the network. In addition to desktops and laptops, smart-phones and tablets are rapidly replacing traditional computing devices. This brings a variety of mobile OS platforms such as iOS, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry, and new devices, such as Chromebook and Raspberry Pi. Managing this diversified range of devices within the network is a challenge. IT managers need to work from a centralized location to monitor and manage all these devices.

Delivering Windows Applications to Mobile Devices

Windows operating system is still the global leader, with the majority of enterprises running Windows applications. According to Wikipedia and Statista, the Windows OS (all versions) net market share is 85.67%.

The global OS market is dominated by other entrants. According to Gartner, Android OS dominated the worldwide market in 2014, with Android at 48.61% and iOS and Windows with 11.04% and 14%, respectively. While Asia and Africa are the biggest markets for Android, the North American market is dominated by iOS.

With multiple mobile platforms and continual development of new devices, application development is a challenge. Remotely publishing Windows applications to a range of devices can also be difficult.

Security Holds the Key

In a traditional network, all the devices are owned by the company. Most are handled through a secure policy and use a unified management interface provided by the manufacturer. However, the BYOD networks work the opposite with devices owned by the users. When users install apps, they open potential third-party access to corporate resources residing on the device. Malware-affected apps can steal server data or  damage the server.

It is not easy to impose security on mobile devices. Apps need regular updates, and they can be circumvented or uninstalled. Blacklisting apps is not easy as there are thousands of apps and new ones come every day.

Another issue is tracking of data. Data management and segregation has to be properly done. With government regulations pertaining to data management becoming more stringent, businesses have to keep an eye on the movement of data between devices.

Mobile devices are prone to loss or theft. Devices that contain corporate information can damage the company, if acquired by a hacker.

How Parallels Remote Application Server (RAS) Addresses Security Issues

Parallels RAS offers an easy and convenient way to securely manage your mobile workforce. With best-in-class support provided, businesses can remotely publish applications from a centralized location while being able to effectively manage and monitor the entire infrastructure from a single dashboard. Leveraging the virtualization technology and RDP connections, Parallels RAS creates a bridge between the server farm and remote devices to deliver a close-to-native experience to end-users. The beauty of this solution is that data never leaves the server and productivity applications are never installed on the BYOD devices. Screenshots are sent to the device and user input is returned to the server, where the application is being executed.

Securing Corporate Data

With Parallels RAS, corporate data never leaves the server which means no data leakage. Users are authenticated securely through a SSL connection, and two factor authentication. When a session is created through a secure RDP connection, the end-user device receives only a projection of what’s happening on the server farm. After the connection is closed, no data remains on the end-user device. Even temp files don’t contain critical corporate data. By retrieving user rights policies from the Active Directory, Parallels RAS provides privilege-based access to a user, while maintaining compliance.

Centralized Dashboard for Better Control

Parallels RAS allows you to monitor and manage the entire infrastructure from a centralized dashboard. With powerful monitoring and control tools, Parallels RAS provides detailed information about the activity of the mobile workforce. Connection details, application use, and time of usage can be verified and documented. The ability to monitor each layer enables administrators to know what is working and what isn’t. Parallels RAS supports major browsers, hypervisors, and mobile devices. Normally complex features, such as load balancing and printer redirection, come auto-configured without requiring interaction between the administrator and devices.

Publishing Windows Applications

Parallels RAS can publish Window applications to a range of end-user devices, regardless of model or make. This virtualization tool allows organizations to run Windows applications on a centralized server and remotely publish them to a range of devices. End-user devices include desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets running on many platforms, such as iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Linux, and Mac. Parallels RAS even supports thin clients such as Chromebooks and Raspberry Pi. Office automation tools such as MS Office can be effectively run on Chromebooks. By installing Chromebooks or Raspberry PI as thin clients, businesses can inexpensively setup virtual offices and optimize costs.

Parallels RAS allows an existing infrastructure, allowing paced migration to newer versions. When a new version of Windows is released, businesses are worried about the EOL of the product and replacement costs. With Parallels RAS, use the current version of Windows Server and upgrade to the newer version when ready, while still providing all devices access to Windows applications.

Parallels RAS allows you to run legacy systems, such as Windows XP, to optimize costs. This tool adds a secure layer around the device and runs the application over it so that XP devices have secure access to corporate resources. Leverage the existing infrastructure, and upgrade when ready.

Parallels RAS is easy to deploy and use. Using a simple step-by-step wizard, installation is each. There is no need to install additional components or add-ons. Important features such as high availability load balancing and universal device redirection come auto-configured by default.

Parallels RAS is significantly cost-effective. Using a single tool, monitor and manage a mobile workforce and empower business infrastructure.

Conclusion

The business segment is moving towards a mobile world. Businesses need adapt to the changing technology. The rise of virtual offices means businesses need to realign strategies to empower the mobile workforce, while not compromising security.

Parallels RAS provides an easy and cost-effective solution to effectively monitor and manage a virtual office. It provides employees with the right tools, which allows them to be more productive. Parallels RAS allows organizations to effectively manage a range of devices, publish Windows applications to non-Windows devices, and doesn’t compromise security. With the right technology in place, business can create new opportunities to make the most out of the mobile workforce revolution.

References

Mobile Workforce: Why Investing In A More Mobile Workforce Makes Sense – Forbes.com

Mobile Workforce: Five security risks of moving data in BYOD era – Zdnet.com

Mobile Workforce: BYOD Risks & Rewards – Sophos.com

Virtual Office Space - Parallels Remote Application Server

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