With all the attention recently generated by Google's Chrome OS and Microsoft's Office 2010 previews, there seems to be something of a sea-change underway, with technology leaders new and old more widely embracing the cloud. This approach is also spilling into the mobile environment, with companies including Apple and Palm embracing the internet to power new mobility applications.
This shift in the power base will have a significant impact for enterprise mobility, with its associated challenges of mobile device management and security, as the industry moves away from a model where the device operating platform (such as BlackBerry, Symbian OS or Windows Mobile) is the key component, to one where the browser is king. And at least on the surface level, this should make life easier for enterprises because cloud applications will be available on any mobile device with a browser, smoothing out the complex device platform picture evident in many corporates.
But blog Enterprise Mobility Matters warns that enterprise device security will become more complex as a result of the shift. The issue is where the data accessed will reside: with HTML5 able to cache data locally in order to enable use when outside of network coverage, local data encryption becomes essential, as does authorisation and access control. Remote wipe capabilities are also a must, in case a handset is lost.
Fortunately, these capabilities are already supported by many existing mobile security products, so security for enterprise mobile internet applications should not be too much of a challenge - so long as the corporate IT department already has clear mobile device security policies and technologies in place.
What would become easier is mobile fleet management. While there will clearly be the need for what Enterprise Mobility Matters tags "baseline device management", especially as email is likely to remain the preserve of a handset application, other management tasks will be reduced. It will no longer be necessary to manage a raft of different applications installed on a device, which often varies from user to user and across device platforms, with the associated challenges this brings with regard to compliance, updates and patches.
In most cases cloud-based enterprise mobility is still something for the future: it is consumer mobile internet applications where the internet is currently being more widely embraced. But while there are clearly a number of issues to be addressed, vendors are already beginning to move toward the new model, with those who like to be technology leaders likely to be close behind. And after this, it may only be a matter of time before internet-based enterprise mobility moves into the mainstream, creating a shift in how enterprise mobility is managed, and how security is delivered.