Comms-care Blog

Forget BYOD - The future of managed services is managing apps

by Darren Briscoe

March 25, 2014

Mobile phones have become an intrinsic part of our work lives. But when was the last time we actually used them to make a phone call? The way we interact with our smartphones is different to how we used telephones in the past. We’re sending text messages, checking the time, posting tweets and answering emails. We’re also taking notes, snapping photos, streaming music, catching up on the latest news, and creating videos. The smartphone has become an office environment and at the heart of this ecosystem is the mobile app.

There’s so much data out there about the volume of mobile applications that it’s difficult to assess the correct figure when it comes to downloads. What is clear to see is that over the past few years the popularity of apps has grown at a significantly faster rate than other downloadable media like songs or books. According to analysis published by Asymco’s Horace Dediu, the world’s population is already downloading at least 50 million apps a day on their iPhones and that number will double by the start of 2017. Add Android and other mobile devices to the mix and we’re looking at hundreds of millions of apps being put on smartphones and tablets each day.

This app obsession is having a considerable impact on the channel and its partners as well by presenting new challenges for managed IT services. The big issue is the amount of data that each application creates and the challenge of storing it.

When an app is downloaded, the data is not stored locally. So when you look in your Dropbox or your Whatsapp messages, the content produced is not stored on the mobile device - but in a storage warehouse somewhere. In most cases, we don’t even know where that ‘somewhere’ is!

This lack of data control inevitable leads to data protection and storage issues. Who can access and recover data? Who is looking at the data we’re all producing? This is just one of the biggest challenges the app world is experiencing - and it’s now becoming the challenge that managed service providers must address too.

The best approach is by moving the corporate environment that’s using mobile devices into a desktop virtualised platform. This solution solves the need for more robust, resilient, easily accessible recoverable data because in this scenario, a business is in control of the data. They know where it’s stored and how to get it.

Indeed, we see a trend towards more secure and scalable back end storage services being a big driver for revenue for all managed service providers. Expertise in all aspects of virtualisation will be in high demand - and offering flexible solutions will be important.

For example, if businesses can’t afford to move their business into a fully virtualised desktop environment they must be able to support a partially virtualised one instead. This is already happening with the rise of application streaming.
This approach simplifies application delivery to users by only virtualising selected applications on client devices. The managed services providers can install and configure an application centrally and deliver it to any desktop on demand.
If there’s a need to upgrade or patch the application, the IT administrators can easily make the updates in the location where they’ve stored the app.

Another great advantage is that the selected applications streamed onto work devices only appear when they are in the corporate environment. Access to the apps is restricted the moment the device is removed from the office.
Indeed, the future of mobile is one defined by our interaction with applications. Our love affair with apps and the devices that support them will only continue to grow.

If managed services providers want to benefit from this new environment they must have the expertise to offer the security and convenience that customer want - and at a price that works for everyone.