When push comes to shove

There’s no doubting that push e-mail is already a real buzz topic in the Middle East business solutions space. For network managers, the thought of hundreds of wireless devices linked seamlessly into the corporate infrastructure may well raise a few security headaches. For vendors pushing these solutions, the onus lies on them not only to demonstrate productivity benefits, but also to show that network security will not be compromised.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  October 30, 2005

|~||~||~|There’s no doubting that push e-mail is already a real buzz topic in the Middle East business solutions space. For network managers, the thought of hundreds of wireless devices linked seamlessly into the corporate infrastructure may well raise a few security headaches. For vendors pushing these solutions, the onus lies on them not only to demonstrate productivity benefits, but also to show that network security will not be compromised. As push e-mail adoption becomes more widespread, it is vital that vendors, integrators and network managers work together to make sure that the solution is seamless, reliable, cost-effective and above all secure — because e-mail is just the tip of the application iceberg as far as the potential usages of mobile devices are concerned. While office e-mail on the move is undoubtedly a valuable application to have, the ability for road warriors to interact seamlessly with other applications such as CRM and ERP systems offers even greater productivity potential. The internal networks used for the new breed of wireless application access solutions need to be robust enough to cope with this new reality. When workers are only connecting to applications through fixed desktop PCs within the organisation, guaranteeing a reasonable level of network security is much easier. Wireless notebook connections and access through mobile smartphone devices raises a whole new range of network security issues that need to be addressed. There’s also the fact that by its very nature, wireless application access bring a range of new players into the picture. Dealing with telco operators providing the bridge between the internal network and the remote device opens up a number of security issues. The internal team and the operator need to work in synch and understand each other’s needs and requests. Bizarrely, sometimes it is easier for a small business and an operator to work together because the scale of the project is smaller and the customer’s existing IT infrastructure is inherently more flexible. It is frequently the largest organisations that have the most concerns when it comes to working with a third party operator and relinquishing a certain degree of control. Network integrators have a role to play in the burgeoning mobile application space. Not only ensuring that their clients have the correct internal infrastructure to provide adequate security at the edge of their network, but also to act as an intermediary between the client and the operator used to facilitate the provision of applications on the move. This is still a market in its infancy in the Middle East. However, given the high rates of mobile penetration, the amount of travelling that many senior executives do in the region and the levels of business growth occurring, the demand is certainly there. This month’s feature on mobile e-mail solutions, profiling the efforts of major vendors such as Nokia and RIM to build up awareness and demand for these solutions, revealed without a shadow of doubt that customers of all sizes are interested. Very interested indeed. And when there’s real time interaction between external devices and the internal network, you need to make sure that your network security reacts in real time as well. Keeping a network closed and limiting external access points is undoubtedly the best way of maintaining security. However, in today’s fast-paced business environment where mobile access is demanded, that is no longer an option. Push e-mail is just the beginning. The shove will occur when senior executives realise the benefits and start asking for more and more of their valuable applications to be made available remotely as well. Network managers need to make sure that they are creating the correct architecture and strong security foundations now. They need to be ready when push comes to shove. ||**||

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