VMware AirWatch – Enterprise Mobility Management

KS Airwatch Logo

Chris Ross  – [Systems Engineer – Network Solutions Group]

Do you have a mobile workforce?  How are you controlling ghost IT and data leakage?  How are you providing corporate resources to help your mobile sales team?  Is that sales team able to leverage up to date data from the internal databases?  If you are struggling to answer any of these questions, AirWatch may be the solution for you.  By utilizing applications such as AirWatch Inbox, AirWatch Browser and AirWatch Container, complete control of data can be obtained while seamlessly providing internal corporate resources to a mobile workforce in a secure and safe manner.

Do you have an intranet website that your sales team is currently having to spend countless minutes laboring through VPN’s and multiple sign-ins just to access?  AirWatch Browser can present that intranet website in a seamless experience as if the user was browsing a normal internet page, no multiple sign-ins, no hassle of a ensuring correct VPN credentials.

Sending the latest monthly sales numbers from a behind the firewall SharePoint site?  AirWatch Container can link to that SharePoint site and give your mobile workforce a secure and controlled method of access.  All the while preventing data leakage on the mobile device by ensuring any controlled information stays inside AirWatch Container.KS Airwatch Container

As a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, VMware AirWatch is setting the stage for how Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) should look.  The mobile worker population continues to grow and is forecasted to reach over 1.3 billion in 2016 and with this growth requires new security and management concerns.  VMware AirWatch is positioned to be that solution by leading in both security functionality and features delivered to the mobile worker.  Below you can find a brief summary of the main AirWatch features.

Enterprise Mobility Management Platform

Container
VMware AirWatch Container provides complete separation of corporate and personal data on devices, securing corporate resources and maintaining employee privacy. AirWatch enables organizations to standardize enterprise security and data loss prevention strategies across mobile devices through our flexible approach to containerization.

Devices
VMware AirWatch Mobile Device Management enables you to gain visibility into the devices – including smartphones, tablets and laptops – connecting to your enterprise network, content and resources. Quickly enroll devices in your enterprise environment, update device settings over-the-air, and enforce security policies and compliance across your entire device fleet. Manage any mobile device type, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, rugged devices, printers and peripherals with support for multiple operating systems including Android, Apple IOS, BlackBerry, Chrome OS, Max OS and Windows across your organization.

Apps
VMware AirWatch Mobile Application Management enables you to manage internal, public and purchased apps across devices enrolled in your organization. Distribute, update, track and recommend apps with VMware AirWatch Catalog. Build custom business apps with the VMware AirWatch Software Development Kit or by following AirWatch-sponsored ACE documentation, or wrap existing internal apps for advanced security with VMware AirWatch App Wrapping.

Content
VMware AirWatch Mobile Content Management secures document distribution and promotes content collaboration anytime, anywhere with VMware AirWatch Content Locker. Access your corporate content in a secure container with advanced data loss prevention policies. Promote collaboration with editing, annotation and commenting capabilities for shared files.

Email
VMware AirWatch Mobile Email Management delivers comprehensive security for your corporate email infrastructure. With AirWatch, you can control which mobile devices access email, prevent data loss, encrypt sensitive data and enforce advanced compliance policies. Containerize email and provide a consistent user experience with VMware AirWatch Inbox, a secure email client.

Browsing
VMware AirWatch Browser is a secure browsing alternative to native browsers and provides organizations with the ability to configure customized settings to meet unique business and end-user needs. Define and enforce secure browsing policies for intranet sites without a device-level VPN. Enable secure browsing with whitelists and blacklists or kiosk mode.

Telecom
VMware AirWatch Telecom Management enables IT to easily monitor data, voice and roaming usage alongside devices from the admin console. With AirWatch, IT has insight into telecom usage to help save time, money and resources. Roaming restrictions, automated compliance enforcement and self-service options for end users simplify telecom management for IT.

These are only a few of the features that AirWatch can offer you.  If you would like to learn or ore to see a demo of AirWatch, please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.

 


Are You Friendly? (Mobile Websites and Web Applications)

Dan Ehrhart, Vice President of Applications


Psychology Today defines friendliness as, “a down to earth approach that is welcoming and positive.” So, what is mobile-friendliness? For a website, it’s one that is easy to use on a mobile device browser requiring no page resizing or horizontal scrolling.


Why is it important to be mobile-friendly? Well, it’s down-to-earth, welcoming, and increasingly it’s the window through which people first encounter your organization. Many people will not endure an unfriendly site. And 57% of users will not recommend companies with poor mobile sites (Source: Search Engine Journal).


Here are some local examples of website traffic:

  • Nineteen percent of Keller Schroeder’s website visitors come from mobile devices.
  • For a handful of manufacturers, it’s 25%.
  • A sports league exceeded 50% of visits coming from smartphones this year.


Mobile-Friendly-WebsiteDiscouraging a significant and growing percentage of website visitors doesn’t seem wise for any organization. To find mobile visitor info for your website, look at your on-site web analytics tool (e.g., Google Analytics). Also, check the bounce rate, which means the user left your site without going to a second page. If your site is not mobile-friendly, the bounce rate will probably be higher for the mobile category than the one for desktop/laptop.


If your website is ready to be replaced, consider responsive design, which allows for one site that dynamically adapts to devices ranging from smartphones to tablets to PC monitors. If you are happy with your website, consider a separate mobile site. Experienced with both approaches, Keller Schroeder can likely save you some blend of time, money, and grief.


Mobile-friendliness is not only for public websites. What software in use by your organization would be much more effective if accessible on a smartphone or tablet? If you are an application developer or your company develops or uses custom web apps, consider making mobile-friendly your standard approach. It’s a lot more efficient to build in mobile-friendliness from the beginning. We can help you get started, explore evolving an existing application, or develop your next web application. If instead you want a mobile app, we can help you with that as well.


For more information on mobile, visit www.kellerschroeder.com/mobile or scan the QR code below.


KS-mobile-QR


Xamarin and Microsoft, Better Together

Xamarin large logoEric Maurer, Systems Consultant


If you have read our previous newsletter articles on mobile, tried out our Client Appreciation Event (CAE) App, or talked to us about mobile development you probably already know that we are big fans of Xamarin. Xamarin lets us write native iOS, Android and Windows Phone apps entirely in C#. By using C#, we can utilize our existing team and development infrastructure to write shorter, simpler and more maintainable code across platforms. With a goal of 90% code reuse we can quickly roll out versions to additional platforms and easily keep features in sync between them.


Xamarin recently announced a new partnership with Microsoft that will make cross-platform app development even easier. Their new collaboration includes the following highlights:

  • Tighter integration with Visual Studio 2013, allowing development across platforms almost entirely from Visual Studio
  • The ability to share a single solution across multiple platforms by utilizing Portable Class Libraries
  • A special discount for MSDN subscribers, including 30% off of individual licenses and 50% off of team licenses
  • Free training and certifications through the newly created Xamarin University


    Xamarin is also partnering with Microsoft to support Windows Azure Mobile Service on Android and iOS. This partnership allows the creation of a scalable and secure backend for your Windows, Android and iOS apps. A few of the major benefits of Azure Mobile Services are:

  • The ability to auto scale your backend to always meet current demands
  • A built-in Notification Hub for managing cross-platform notifications
  • User authentication that doesn’t require custom code


    The integration of these features allows for writing C# application code only once and using it across all three platforms bringing us even closer to our goal of 90% code reuse.


    At Keller Schroeder, we’ve already seen the benefits of using Xamarin firsthand, including faster ramp-up times for team members and code reuse across existing code base (mobile and non-mobile), along with the ability to deploy an app on additional platforms in a fraction of the time. We fully believe that this partnership will further cement the role of Xamarin in the mobile development arena and increase its value in the enterprise.


    Are you interested in taking advantage of this great new partnership? If so, contact Keller Schroeder today for more information on how we can help you get to efficient, high quality mobile solutions in less time and with less investment.


  • Building Cross-platform Mobile Apps Using Xamarin


    Jill Epperson, Business Unit Director


    Xamarin large logoI’ve never been big on fads. Quick fixes aren’t my game. I believe in the “no pain, no gain” philosophy and I don’t do shortcuts. So when Keller Schroeder decided to jump into mobile app development, my first choice for a strategy was to use all native tools. I wanted a pure approach that kept us close to the OS and gave us the greatest ability to tap into device features. And I was not afraid of asking the team to dig in and learn new platforms and tools – they’re a talented bunch and I knew they were up to the challenge.


    But I gotta tell ya… there are a couple things in my makeup that supersede my need to never back down from a challenge. It’s my desire to get things done efficiently and with a high degree of quality. So, when many client discussions that started with building an iPhone app quickly turned to, “how much more effort is it to add an Android version”, it didn’t take long to see that doubling the development time (and the cost) was not going to be an efficient way to get these projects done. So we sought out alternatives and settled on a tool called Xamarin.


    Unlike other mobile development tools we investigated, Xamarin isn’t a code generator; wizardy app builder; or wrapper type of tool. It’s a cross-platform development tool that allows you to use C# to build your apps and use that same code across iOS, Android, and Windows Phone development. Now that’s MY kind of efficiency!


    There are two major advantages to using Xamarin:

    • Developing in C#, leveraging your existing .Net skills – no new language to learn, or at least limiting the learning to one new, mainstream language if you don’t already know it

    • Maximizing code reuse, which translates into big time and cost savings


    Xamarin encourages developers to strive for 90% code reuse. This means that when you write an app for multiple platforms, you are able to share 90% of the code and only 10% has to be platform-specific. That’s almost buy one, get one free, right? Well, I do have to tell you that there is a process to getting there. In our first projects we were hitting about 30% reuse. But since then, we’ve learned a lot about how to consolidate and structure our code and are currently achieving about 75% reuse. For example, in our most recent project, we spent about 9 weeks of development time building the iOS version and all of the common code. When the Android developer started, he completed the Android version of the app in just over 2 weeks. We even followed up with a web page that also tapped into the common code (C#), so the efficiencies continued to grow.


    To be fair, there’s no way around the fact that you still have to learn the device platform. You have to understand a phone user’s experience and expectations, and these standards vary across the major devices. Building for a touch interface is very different than building for a keyboard and mouse interface. So, even with the tool, the process of going mobile is not without its learning curve. But by using Xamarin, we have been able to utilize the team’s existing .Net skills to shorten that learning curve significantly. This translates into huge time and expense savings for us and our clients when they engage us in a mobile project, but also when we transition the support over to their existing team of .Net developers. The process becomes one of understanding the architecture, not learning a new language.


    Now, does that sound like YOUR kind of efficiency? If so, contact Keller Schroeder for more information on how we can help you get to efficient, high quality mobile solutions in less time and with less investment.



    Mobile Apps – Delivered Your Way, Right Away

    Ray Pritchett, Business Unit Director
    Synopsis: Enterprise distribution is a potentially game changing alternative to third party app stores for many organizations that might benefit from custom developed mobile apps, by offering:

    • Faster path from release to delivery with direct control over the timing and process
    • Elimination of third party review
    • More flexible control over who can install apps and updates
    • Enhanced administrative responsiveness – virtually immediate withdrawal of a “buggy” app or update

     
    mobile-app-storeAs more organizations begin to consider and explore the potential that mobile computing holds for improving processes and building tighter relationships with customers, partners, and staff, many quickly realize that the traditional method of distributing apps – via proprietary “app stores” – simply doesn’t fit well. This should come as no surprise, given that app stores were built for the sole purpose of monetizing the distribution of a product aimed squarely at the broadest possible retail consumer market. By contrast, many enterprises have no interest in monetizing distribution of custom apps – conversely, their requirements often include controlled distribution to defined groups of users, while protecting apps and data from unscrupulous competitors and hackers.
    To be fair, app stores have attempted to accommodate some of the concerns of the enterprise. For example, both Apple and Google have offered “B2B” or “Private Channel” features within their app stores, which do address some of the concerns by limiting access to enterprise apps. But other requirements associated with distribution of custom developed enterprise apps remain, due largely to conflicting objectives. For example, while an app store has an interest in protecting its reputation for trustworthiness by taking time to review and vet apps submitted by third party developers – an unpredictable process that can sometimes take 3-10 days – an enterprise that has developed its own app may find this process detrimental to their objective of speedy and flexible delivery of patches and updates that may be critical to business processes.
    Enterprise Distribution – A key to successfully integrating the power of custom mobile apps into your organization
    For many organizations, the ultimate answer is to forgo app stores altogether, and distribute mobile apps with the same flexibility they’ve long enjoyed with traditional PCs. As an open source platform, Android has generally supported more relative flexibility in distribution for some time. Fewer people may be aware, however, that with the somewhat recent advent of Apple’s Enterprise distribution program, organizations can freely distribute their own apps to iPhones and iPads, from any infrastructure they choose.
    Now organizations can inexpensively and flexibly control the publishing and distribution of their apps for Android and Apple, without submission to an app store – often by leveraging their existing infrastructure. For example, an intranet can securely distribute apps to employees, using existing content management tools and access controls. Self-service portals might distribute apps to customers and other external partners. Email groups could expedite delivery of critical patches and updates, or these processes might be built directly into communications processes that facilitate integration of the apps into enterprise applications.
    Could your organization benefit from mobile apps that are truly integrated into your business – both in terms of business processes and data, as well as in how they are distributed to your users? Contact Keller Schroeder today to begin exploring the possibilities and to learn more.

     


    Mobile App Development

    – Jill Epperson, Business Unit Director


    Life is a series of trade-offs. You can choose to have lunch at a fancy, sit-down place and generally get a better meal, but the trade-off is it costs you more time and money than the fast food joint. You can choose to see that new blockbuster movie the day it hits the theater, but the trade-off is you are going to pay more for that movie theater experience than if you just wait until it is released on Netflix. You can choose to hit that snooze button for the fifth time tomorrow morning, but the trade-off is you may end up at work wearing two different shoes because you were so rushed you didn’t notice (okay, yeah, I did that one time).

    The point is trade-offs are everywhere and mobile app development is no different. At Keller Schroeder, we are often asked what the best strategy is for mobile app development. Do we recommend using native languages, like Java and Objective-C? Or is it better to take advantage of the cross platform tools available today, such as Mono/MonoTouch and PhoneGap?

    Choosing a mobile app development strategy centers primarily around creating a better user experience versus lowering the development investment and shortening timelines.

    In general, the closer you get to native app development, the better the user’s experience is going to be because this is where you are able to take full advantage of the device’s capabilities and APIs. However, typically, it’s going to take longer to develop apps using the native languages – particularly if you are developing across multiple devices. You cannot, for example, write code for an iPhone in Objective-C and expect it to also run on Android or Windows devices.

    The flipside is that you can use a cross platform tool like PhoneGap and get an app up and running pretty quickly that can, with minor effort, be deployed to different devices. However, the app is going to look and behave the same across all devices, so users may perceive a more generic experience. Additionally, it may be challenging to implement more complex behavior or functionality in a tool like PhoneGap because you are mainly using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

    Mono/MonoTouch, on the other hand, does a nice job of getting you closer to the native app experience and still gives you the advantages of cross platform development cost and timeline. Mono/MonoTouch allows you to write your code in C# and share business logic across iOS, Android, and Windows devices. You do, however, have to build the presentation features individually for each device you are targeting.

    Tools like Mono/MonoTouch and PhoneGap, as well as other cross platform tools, will be behind the curve regarding support for new device features, and you are going to deal with their individual bugs and quirkiness. The app itself may be a bit larger in size than a native app, and/or may perform a little slower (although, perhaps not enough for the user to notice).

    So how do you decide on a strategy? Start by considering what is important for your mobile app development project and which trade-offs you are willing to accept. Here are some key considerations:

    • Which device types are you going to support?
    • What languages does your development team already know?
    • How complex is the app?
    • What is your timeline and budget?

    Consider these questions and then contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager for more information on how you, together with Keller Schroeder, can navigate the trade-offs of mobile app development.

    And don’t forget to check your shoes tomorrow morning.


    Your Ticket Out of “The Waiting Place”

    – Ray Pritchett, Business Unit Director


    I was once again reminded of a classic Dr. Seuss book a few days ago, when I opened an invitation to a local high school graduation ceremony. The last book written under Theodor Geisel’s pen name, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” is certainly an appropriate theme for graduation, as it inspires the reader to view life as a great adventure, constrained only by the limits of your imagination and other self-imposed obstacles. For those unfamiliar with the story, one of the primary obstacles in the adventure is “The Waiting Place” – a place where everyone is interminably waiting for something to happen. Applying this theme to today’s business world, I think it’s fair to say that ever-increasing internet access via broadband is making visits to “The Waiting Place” shorter and less frequent for most of us, even as we all grow less tolerant of waiting.


    Still, most of us accept there are times and places when lack of broadband access dooms us (as well as our business partners and customers) to “The Waiting Place” – a place where the applications and data that we depend upon are at least temporarily unavailable. But is it possible that this, too, is a constraint imposed by our lack of imagination? In the case of one of our recent projects, the answer was clearly “yes.”



    The client in this case is Best Home Furnishings, a mid-sized manufacturer and distributor of furniture, who sells their products to retail dealers both large and small, through a sales force of independent reps. Their product line is both deep and broad, with large numbers of models, fabrics, features, and options from which to choose. While they have long since used the web to extend the reach of their product catalog, customer order management, and sales analysis applications and data, their sales reps still regularly find themselves in geographic locations and other situations where web access is either non-existent or insufficient.


    Best Home Furnishings’ ticket out of “The Waiting Place” came in the form of a custom-developed iPad application with its own local database. Reps can now create and display sales presentations, complete with high quality images of any products they choose, virtually anywhere and anytime. They can browse the catalog with customers at their sides and assemble quotes and orders at a desk or from a sofa on the showroom floor, while they receive immediate feedback from the customer. They can record inventory status from warehouses, and drill into a customer’s sales history, even in rural areas where cellular broadband access is spotty or unavailable. Then, when they return to their office, hotel room, or local Wi-Fi coffee shop, rather than logging on to the web site to key orders and/or generate and retrieve customer sales histories for the next day’s appointments, they simply click the “synchronize” button on the iPad app. The iPad then automatically sends orders to the customer order management database, and retrieves any new or updated catalog or customer data, all while the rep heads out to dinner with the customer (although synchronization typically completes in a matter of seconds).


    Are you wasting time and money in “The Waiting Place”? Are there great new places that mobile versions of your applications and data could take your business? Contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information or a demonstration of this product and how you, together with Keller Schroeder, can benefit your environment.


    Are These the Droids You’re Looking for?

    – Jill Epperson, Business Unit Director

    “There’s an app for that!” Remember that fun little phrase? There was a time when mobile strategy gurus believed that the only way to win big with mobile devices was to find your way into the iPhone App Store. But times are changing. Androids sales are surging, and a recent Gartner press release predicts that Androids will have nearly half the worldwide smartphone market by the end of 2012. This same press release also predicts that Microsoft’s mobile platform will outpace Apple by 2015. Yes, the times, they are a changin’!

    Building a mobile app can be a time-consuming and expensive process, and for best user experience, may require device-specific applications (which means you’re building separate applications for iPhone vs. Android vs. Blackberry vs. Windows Phone). Some app stores charge fees and/or have screening processes for determining whether or not you can publish your app to their store. Maintainability can be cumbersome, since new releases and bug fixes must be published to the app store and downloaded to each device again. With all the confusion over mobile apps (not to mention the new skills required by developers to build them), as well as advancements in mobile browser capabilities, many companies are now opting for mobile websites instead.

    But is this the right choice for your company? A few minor tweaks to your existing site might make it possible to navigate on a smartphone, but if you want a truly mobile optimized site providing a good user experience, more is often required. Creating a mobile website means designing pages that load fast; fit nicely within the smartphone browser real estate; offer the most frequently needed information quickly (trim out all the fluff); and are easy to navigate, with navigation and interactive elements placed in such a way as to make them easy to use in a “touch” interface.

    Realistically, there is some investment either way. So what is the best strategy for your company? To determine the answer, you need to set aside all the hype on both sides of this debate and consider the basics:

    • Who is your target audience?
      (Employees, business partners, customer base, general public)
    • When and how will the app/site be used?
      (To perform a job task, to buy your product, etc.)
    • How often will they come to your app/site?
      (Some research suggests that less than 5% of downloaded apps continue to be used 20 days after download. Is there a compelling reason for the target audience to download an app vs. bookmark a site?)
    • How many different devices, with what capabilities, will your target audience use?

    Answering these questions is a good starting point. Keller Schroeder can help you define your mobile strategy and work with you to implement a plan that meets your needs, whether that strategy includes mobile apps, mobile web sites, or a combination of both.

    Contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager to learn more or discuss the benefits of implementing this technology within your environment.