Archive for the ‘collaboration’ Category

Thoughtlet – Are we moving to a single device?

June 15th, 2013 Comments off
Reading Time: 7 minutes

This isn’t a fully fleshed out thought. It is the beginning of some musings after looking at the Apple WWDC announcements and how they are building tighter integration between OSX and iOS. It was also spurred on by this article. As users are being driven by portability and the lag between feature parity of devices is shrinking, and looking at the history and trends of personal computing purchases, are we finally moving to the “single device”? What will this new “single device” look like and what affect will it have on the current trends in the market?

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 9.42.33 AM

If you don’t like my picture there are others to choose from

Personal computing kicked off in the 1980s with the personal computer. This was the first time that general and flexible computing was available to the average person.

In the 1990s mobile phones took off as did the personal digital assistant (PDA) in the mid to late ’90s. This took communications and personal computing mobile. Given the limited capabilities of the PDAs at the time, most people still had a desktop PC. Those lucky enough, also had access to laptops in the ’90s, these too had limitations and for the more powerful users, increased their device count further.

In the late 1990s PDAs merged with phones to create the first smart phone, reducing the number of devices a person carried.

The 2000s brought the advancement of laptops as the norm and in the latter part of the decade saw the introduction of net books and ultrabooks as a way of increasing the portability of computing, it also saw the paradigm (can’t believe I used paradigm) shift in mobile telephony with the introduction of the iPhone. This new interface saw people’s view of mobile computing change forever.

By 2010 tablet computing, on the back of smart phones, came to market and introduced another compromise to computing. This now sees people with 3 devices, notebook, smart phone and tablet computer, each needed for a specific purpose, notebook as the data entry and manipulation device, smart-phone for the all purpose device and a tablet as the compromise of the two, meeting somewhere in the middle.

In 2013 we now see the decline in PC sales and increase in smartphone sales with tablets of varying specification and size, trying to balance capability and portability, as well as smart-phones that are so large that the challenge the smaller of the tablets on the market. Why? This jostling and positioning is trying to meet the consumers needs what are these needs?


I argue that people are trying to get that balance right. Ideally they don’t want a phone and a tablet, but the phone screen is too big, or the tablet too big to always have with them. If this is truly the case then the real future is going to look a lot different from where we are now, reaching an almost sci-fi climax.


I think what will eventually happen is that the processing power that a mobile phone can have will be comparable with that of the ultrabooks of today. Once this happens is there really a need for everyone to  have 16 devices? The new devices will be like the smart phone today with a docking capability to turn it into a powerful data entry and manipulation tool or a sleeve that allows it to have a bigger, interactive display like that of a tablet or laptop .


vision of future of personal computing

If this is the case, what are the implications to current enterprise trends?


Cloud Services – Today file sharing tools like box and dropbox allow us to share files with others, but most people tend to use them as a way of syncing and backing up their own personal data. In the single device world this won’t need to change. whilst the sync capability will be less of a concern, the sharing capability will increase as it does today, moving from file sharing to collaborative content creation and manipulation.

BYOD – the Bring your own device phenomenon,like cloud, is moving past the disruptive trend and becoming the norm. With a single device, the only barrier is compartmentalisation of work and personal. As mobile computing power increases so will the ability to have capabilities like personas or profiles. Allowing the seamless switching between contexts work and personal contexts

Security implications – This will cement the concept of the micro perimeter (see really crappy Figure 2 below). Mobile computing and secure code execution is becoming more and more mature, so too has the shift in desktop computing. We’ve moved from the personal firewall and the Hypervisor to the Micro-visor (see Figure 1 below) providing the ability to secure the execution of the operating system itself, as well as temporary sandboxed instantiation of the applications as they are used. Incorporating the Mobile device management (MDM) platform concept into a policy based micro visor, allows the seamless movement from personal device to multifunction device, with employers being able to specify policies for the components under their control.


Figure 1: Hypervisor to Micr-visor

Figure 2: Evolution of the micro-perimeter

Figure 2: Evolution of the micro-perimeter

I think that the trends of today are not going to change much or slow down, each seems to fuel the other in regards to personal computing. There are still niches in the market to be had to help consumers and businesses ease into this new paradigm (there you have it I use paradigm)!

UPDATE – 18/6/13: After a brief twitter exchange with Brian Katz (@bmkatz) and Ian Bray (@appsensetechie) I realised that I conflate the concept of Mobile Device Management, Mobile Application Management and Device Data management into the MDM terminology.

I see Mobile Device Management,  device control, as the initial stage in the evolution of dealing with the data management problem. Application management is controlling the conduit to the data via enforcing trusted applications (another potential flaw). Ultimately the data is the only thing that anyone truly cares about. This is an oversimplification of the problem as there are other concerns and factors that come into it.

UPDATE – 22/6/13: Further comment from Tal Klein (@VirtualTal) reminds me that there will always be a multi device driven by consumption/creation as well as an aggregation and administration drive to consolidation of devices. I can see that there will continue to be those that have specific needs and require multiple devices (driven by technology adaptation, or scenarios). I’m also driven by watching my family’s adoption. I’m the only one that really has multiple machines, everyone else really utilises dual devices, and only uses the secondary device due to lack of feature parity on the primary iDevices.

Mobility – Magic or Mayhem

April 7th, 2011 Comments off
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Love it or hate it, mobile computing is here to stay. Be it smart phone, tablet, netbook or ultra-portable, society as a whole seem stupidly addicted to information being at the tips of out fingers.

Mobile device sales now seem to outpace population growth, a cool statistic that Padmasree Warrior ( @padmasree ) wheeled out at a recent Cisco event was that every second 4 babies are born in the world, but in that same second 40 mobile devices are sold! Take a quick look around, how many iPhones, iPads, Android devices, eReaders, etc are in your household (I’ve got 3 iDevices alone in my house and both my kids are under 3).

Brought on by the modern need to be always connected and “there’s an app for that” approach to mobile computing (Social networking, collaboration tools, and other resources being some of these drivers), there is little wonder what “the next target” will be.

Criminals in general will target the best return for their investment, i.e. hit the biggest deployment base via the easiest means in the hope that a percentage of attacks will be successful. It’s called return on investment.


These are still early days and attacks have come along way from a simple “Rick-rolling” of someone’s phone to embedding root-kits into applications, opening up the potential for much much more.

Google Android App store pulls 21 infected apps because of malware, with other stories suggesting upward of 50 applications were actually affected shouldn’t really come as a surprise

Whilst there are a variety of reasons why this happens, essentially it all boils down to money.

The growth of the smart phone deployment base, and the popularity of app stores in general, it makes perfect sense that we are seeing a rise in mobile platform exploits hitting the news. This form of exploit, embedding malicious code in applications that otherwise appear harmless, is certainly low hanging fruit that is ripe for the picking.

Whilst there is a relatively strong Desktop security software market along with a general heightened awareness when it comes to viruses, malware and even information classification in general, the mobile computing platform everyone seems to have a laissez-faire attitude.

Mobile security

While many say 2011 is the year of the Cloud, I’m going to suggest it is also the year of the mobile device exploit. I’m willing to bet that a lot of the bigger players out there are thinking along the same lines; as can be seen through some acquisitions and announcements.

The Enterprise

Always-connected comes at a price. Everyone wants these devices and wants them connected to the corporate network so they can access email, intranet pages, documents and even remote manage infrastructure.

I see there being a number of different issues.

  1. People will bring them in regardless of policy, so how are you going to change your policies?
  2. How do you provide secure access to the information and resources people need?

Policy – the fix all?

Before you say, but corporate policy disallows the use of XYZ device on the network so people won’t be connecting or using them, guess again! I can guarantee that in your organisation people are using the likes of Dropbox and Evernote to get access to the files and information that they need to do their job.

As I’ve said previously

policy only gets you so far. As with any security policy, if it is too restrictive or just too complex , people will just ignore it and do what they want, or need to do

People will connect their devices in ways that would make you cringe.

How do you provide secure access?

With the move to any device anywhere model in organisations this could be a real issue. What happens when a device, corporate or personal, gets compromised?

At this stage this is all up for debate as the industry hasn’t taken mobile device security seriously enough for long enough. The easiest way is to start by providing the tools that give both control to you as a business and your people the access they require.

Open or Closed?

Now there is the debate between open and closed platforms coupled with open or closed marketplaces, but even closed platforms have vulnerabilities that are exploitable, be it in hidden features or bugs in the code. It does, however, make sense that an open platform with an open marketplace would offer an easier target to that of a closed one, but as mentioned previously the user-base also plays a large part in the overall equation; again, these are early days.

Best choice is providing the platform so you can control, to some degree, what goes on. Else look at other measures that will allow functional, secure access to services.

Ultimately the open vs. closed system is one that has been raging for years, regardless of the platform. Only time, and statistics, will tell.


What does this mean to Joe Average and the Enterprise? There needs to be a strategy. How will you address this, and one that is flexible enough to take in to consideration that this is a fast changing area.

A good start;  your mobile device is a computing device and at a minimium the same security precautions need to be taken as for traditional computing devices, arguably, given the device is more susceptable to both “locking down” or  being “lost” than that of  a desktop or  laptop, some additional device specific considerations should be considered.

Thanks to Ben for critique and edits.

vForum 2010

October 27th, 2010 Comments off
Reading Time: 3 minutes

After spending two days at VMware’s vForum I have to say one thing. There are a lot of people out there who still don’t know, or understand, what cloud computing is. What makes it worse is the culprits are the vendors and the System Integrators, possibly confused by the cloud washing of their portfolio.

On more than one occasion there was the comment “everyone has their own definition” which is OK as a starting point but did anyone try sit-down and educate the great unwashed? Virtualisation != Cloud Computing.

Please, just to get you started have a read of the NIST definition. Whilst it may be considered lacking in parts, it is certainly better than the veritable blank slate of today.

The two things that did seem to be common with most of the speakers were: Management, at the highest level, needs to be driving this; and have a solid, functional security policy. What is funny is that it sounds like both of these are new ideas in the IT world. Those with half a clue know this not to be the case. Hopefully what events like today have done is remind everyone that these technological masterpieces we create are a means unto an end. They deliver a function for the business, or at the very best are the business enablers.

The other topic that lay just under the surface was that any migration, be it to an internal, private cloud through to an external, public cloud (and all variants within) is an extremely complex task, navigating technological and potentially regulatory pitfalls along the way; I found interesting  the sheer volume of “experts” available to help you along your journey, despite the sheer lack of services available domestically (notice yours truly in the pic).

Silly rants aside. It was great to get out and see the bits of the market I’ve been too busy to pay attention to, like the fact that VMsafe has now morphed into vShield endpoint or that vShield zones is now becoming more of a reality through vShield App and vShield Edge. We’re slowly starting to see feature parity with the physical world. The other nice piece of news was vMware’s “Project Horizon”, and accompanying demo. I’ve always said, give your staff the tools the want, else they will go out and get them themselves, whilst playing catchup to other players in the market, it is still a great sign. Having more than one player in the space will drive innovation further.

All in all I’m glad that I was able to attend this year and looking forward to all those vendor followups 😉