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Saturday, October 11, 2008

"Virtualizing" Applications for UC Security

October 10, 2008

Comments on Common User Devices For Both Business and Personal Use

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

As you probably know from reading my articles since the year 2000, I have been a big proponent of a single handheld mobile device (with multiple access addresses) that will allow an individual user to manage all their communications for both business and personal needs. We are slowly getting closer to that capability, but there are some enterprise security roadblocks still in the way.

I have suggested that enterprise IT management should concentrate on protecting access to information on a “virtual network” basis, not on a premise-basis like the old days of filing cabinets in office buildings. My view is having the individual business process applications, which are the access gateways to databases, be the security guardians to information entry and retrieval. That means that the transport networks and even the computer platforms should NOT be the real protectors of different kinds of information for different kinds of people.

I most recently wrote about Citrix practicing what it preaches about securely virtualizing enterprise information with its new policy of “Bring Your Own Computer” (BYOC) for its employees. By “virtualizing” their business applications, they now feel comfortable in letting their employees use any laptop of their choice BOTH business and personal applications. The concept is obviously applicable to more personalized, handheld mobile devices and “smart phones’ that will be popping out of the consumer woodwork in record numbers in the course of the coming year.

Some Comments

I enjoyed reading your blog. A couple of thoughts:

1) Multi-device communication is another key enabler to the cell phone becoming all things. Today, we use bluetooth headsets. Tomorrow, bluetooth speaker phones, using our TV sets for the display, a wireless pen as the keyboard-interface... So in the future, we walk into our office (at home, at work, at a 3rd party) and a key board, screen, and speaker phone are waiting for us and we no longer need to fuss with laptops. This plays into the cloud computing future too. Quick, I need to sell my Dell stock.....

2) Customers want to communicate with a company, the way they communicate with each other. This means that companies should be quick adopters in the multi-channel world, but should not try and drive user adoption faster than critical mass within the market. More and more company networks will look like carrier networks and they will need to peer with the cell phone providers in order to take care of full 4G/IMS/SIP/WS capability. ISDN will not cut it any more.

3) Training and rewarding customers on which channel to use when, will also become important. Most companies offer self-service on the web as their cheapest service offering. Calling by phone, email, chat, letters, fax, texting, .... are usually a lot more expensive channel to service a customer. By rewarding customers who first try the web and then still need to call, chat, email, ... by putting them in front of the queue and bypassing an IVR or another screening mechanism, then both the company and customers win. Same with teaching customers to use your web site if you think they will be frequent users. This will have to be balanced with effectiveness per channel, not just efficiency.

4) Presence, Location, and Identity will add to the context of the communication. Presence is your state of communication ability (device, channel, availability). Location can be proximity based, exact lat/long, or association based. Identity is the cell phone (something you have) along with a password (something you know) and is the basis for all security.

5) No data at rest in the field. This core security principle means that we should not have our source of truth data with in the PDA. To overcome lack of universal connectivity, data can be cached on the PDA (songs, movies, contact list, important files, ...). So the library of songs, movies, information, should reside within the cloud.

6) Fixed Mobile Convergence breaks an enterprises security model. Most companies will continue to treat mobile devices as an external device, even if you are within the company building. For an enterprise to enforce security, they need to control and log everything. One thing the Blackberry server does is enable this on the data/email side. God forbid if someone watches porn on their cell phone while at work....

At some point, the big software companies are going to get real serious about communication, vs. the dabbling that they are doing now. Hey, Nortel is now worth <1B.

Sorell Slaymaker


My fear is that the U.S. will continue to lag in innovation/capability.


I felt compelled to respond to your posting on Unified-view - smartphones. Good to speak to you again (I was the Mitel guy on your UC panel at ITExpo and we spoke).

This is a very interesting technical evolution to watch. As an enterprise communications vendor, we definitely have a vested interest in this, and enabling integration of mobile devices to enterprise applications, including communications is very valid. Mobile device vendors are certainly supportive and support APIs and are active in partnerships with vendors such as ourselves to do just that.

The big key as you point out is how does the distribution of these devices and various software, clients get managed and controlled. It appears to me the device vendors are taking more control of this and in effect bypassing the service provider in setting the strategy for a wider usage (e.g. drive more demand) of these mobile devices, for both consumer and business users. As the public airwaves are needed for connectivity, the carriers will wake up and meter this in some fashion I am sure. Personally on the debate of "terminal vs "computer" for mobile handhelds, I think both will exist so it's kind of a moot debate, as the user/business will decide depending on personal use and application.


Kevin Johnson


While this "BYOC" concept isn't common, we are definitely seeing a desire to go to a browser-based softphone such as the one we deliver in our one-X Portal product. There are some non-trivial security infrastructure integration considerations but there are definitely ways to make such a concept work.

Andy Zmolek,



Stay tuned for “virtualization” and it’s impact on UC!

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