The Cloud computing bandwagon continues to gain acceptance in the enterprise segment. Whether it’s SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) or IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), solutions built on the cloud have proven to be effective across multiple verticals in the enterprise.
Given the rapid explosive growth of mobile devices led by the Apple iPhone and an army of Android devices, the mobile cloud is widely being projected as the next big opportunity for the enterprise. Most employees in any enterprise are BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) followers. While that facilitates the notion of anytime anywhere cloud access, it poses the following key challenges for the enterprise.
Since enterprises deal with sensitive data, security is of paramount importance. Most cloud platforms offer robust built-in security measures as well as provide the option to enable external security via SSL and digital certificates. As for mobile devices, security remains a key concern for users as well as enterprises alike. If a device gets stolen or misplaced, crucial data may be compromised.
Thankfully, most mobile manufacturers and wireless carriers offer the option to remotely wipe mobile devices to prevent data misuse for stolen/ misplaced devices.
Enterprises which allow the BYOD policy typically need to deal with interoperability challenges. It’s reasonable to expect an assorted mix of mobile devices including iPhone, Android phones, BlackBerry and others being used by employees in an organization. Depending on the nature of cloud applications being used, interoperability can prove to be a major challenge in pulling/ pushing data across multiple devices.
Irrespective of whether it’s private, public or hybrid, a cloud-based offering facilitates collaboration among the key stakeholders in an enterprise. Whether it’s the engineering and sales teams updating a document hosted on the Cloud (such as Google Docs) or the development and IT teams coordinating deployments, the cloud’s inherent architecture is tailor made for collaboration. However, when it comes to accessing the cloud via mobile devices, collaboration can be a challenge.
For example, several mobile platforms lack sophisticated document editing tools. Similarly, there are limited platform specific options to do multi-party video conferencing with document sharing over the cloud.
Enterprise users typically need to sync their devices with the cloud to maintain data integrity. While this is a routine task for small operations, it can be cumbersome for complex workflows and large datasets. If a user pulls off a document of the cloud, updates it and fails to sync it back to the cloud, it creates a discrepancy and other users who retrieve the document from the cloud will get an older version, thereby creating inconsistencies and causing a data integrity risk for the enterprise as a whole.
It’s challenging to provide multi-platform access to private cloud networks, especially if it’s dependent on native mobile platform features. While enterprises can add a security shield to public and hybrid networks using firewalls and VPNs, providing access across complex private cloud architectures can often be daunting task.
None the less, despite those challenges, the mobile cloud paradigm is gaining momentum in the enterprise segment.