Enterprise mobility - It’s more than connecting on the go
The new Nortel vision of mobility redefines the possibilities for communication and collaboration in dynamic, distributed enterprises. It’s a surprising but very real statistic: 50 to 70 percent of office space is unoccupied during normal business hours (International Telework Association and Council). Where are these people? Some are elsewhere in the building or visiting another company site. Others are working at home or on the road. With the widespread adoption of telecommuting, wireless and various other “virtual office” technologies, this trend will only increase. How can companies ensure that time and distance do not become barriers to productive collaboration? What’s the best way to enable geographically dispersed teams to work together in ways that are natural, convenient and effective?
Ever since the adoption of the cellular phone in the 1980s, and the surge in wireless everything in the ’90s, businesses have answered these questions with various “mobility” technologies (http://www.sbc-one.com/mobility/index.php), such as in-building wireless LANs and cellular phone service. But as we take stock, halfway through yet another decade, enterprises have only scratched the surface of the ever-expanding possibilities. As key standards and technologies mature and new innovations reach the market, it’s time to raise the bar on what constitutes real mobility for the dynamic, distributed enterprise.
Enterprise mobility must make network boundaries invisible to the user.Some vendors would have you believe that if you can wander around the premises with your laptop or PDA, you have arrived... or that mobility is achieved if you simply have wireless communications of some sort. But in reality, this is far too narrow a definition. Sure, wireless communications enable people to get away without losing touch, but is the wireless device the only way your users want to connect when away from their desks? Chances are, even guests in your own conference rooms or visitor offices are offered only wired Ethernet access to the Internet. Enterprise mobility should extend seamlessly beyond the boundaries of your company’s buildings. Users should be able to roam across town, on the road, or around the world — anywhere within the reach of a LAN, MAN or WAN. And users should be able to connect in many ways when they are away from their offices — such as via wireless LANs (WLANs) (http://www.sbc-one.com/products/large/applications/mobility/wlan2200.php), from an Ethernet jack in a hotel room over DSL or cable modem connections from home, or someday with WiMax.
Enterprise mobility should be more than just having some way to connect when you’re away.
Today, people carry a host of portable communication devices — laptops, pagers, PDAs, multi-mode cell phones, two-way radio phones, etc. That’s fine and well if you don’t mind juggling a smorgasbord of electronics. Just watch business travelers unloading their pockets and briefcases at airport security, and it’s easy to see that we’ve traded some inconvenience for convenience.
Enterprise mobility should be about more than discrete mobile services. It should be more than carrying a device for e-mail and Web access, another for voice calls and another for urgent alerts. Mobility should capitalize on unified applications and multi-purpose access — enabling users to not just connect, but fully engage, from afar. A consistent, quality user experience requires converged business applications that users can easily access in many ways — both wired and wireless.
Enterprise mobility must be secure everywhere. It does seem like a paradox; the veryess that makes mobility applications useful would seem to make them equally vulnerable. You need free and easy flow across unsecured environments — yet stringent protections against unauthorized or malicious access.
Enterprise mobility can resolve these challenges with a full array of security solutions that are easy to deploy and inter-operate seamlessly with existing network components such as routers, firewalls and existing authentication mechanisms. Collectively, these three elements point to a new model of communicating and collaborating across the dynamic, multilocation enterprise: a consistent, reliable, secure communications experience - anytime, anywhere and on whatever device you are using.
Towards a new vision of enterprise mobility
If we can embrace this broader perspective of mobility, enterprises really will achieve their stated goals of improving productivity, reaching new markets and delivering superior customer care. The technology enablers are here or on the very close horizon. Here’s a sampling in the table below.
Capitalizing on these technologies, we can redefine the possibilities. Let’s take a closer look at the three key dimensions of a new vision of enterprise “mobility”.
Enterprise Mobility Dimension #1
Eliminate network boundaries (or at least make them invisible to users).
Real mobility must span wired and wireless domains.
The new vision of mobility encompasses three classes of bandwidth:
- Wired bandwidth to the user’s desktop, enough bandwidth to support highspeed Internet access, IP Telephony and multimedia applications
- Wireless WAN bandwidth, available just about anywhere, embracing enterprise WLANs, public WLAN hotspots, campus and metro wireless mesh networks and 2G and 3G public wireless services
- Nomadic bandwidth — a combination of wired and wireless options — for occasional, on-demand used by out-of-office users, who may be at home, in a hotel or at enterprise and public WLAN hotspots
Edholm’s Law of Bandwidth observes that bandwidth in each of these categories increases over time yet retains a constant relationship (Phil Edholm, IEEE Spectrum, July 2004). The major implication is that the more plentiful and economical bandwidth becomes, the more applications naturally migrate from the desktop to mobile campus workers, teleworkers and road warriors.
To be useful though, basic connectivity for these applications must be natural, convenient and simple for end users, whether they are connecting on wireless or wired devices. This ideal capitalizes on the growing trend toward devices that have multiple connectivity options, such as public wireless/WLAN dualand tri-mode operation, wired Ethernet and even dial modem in a single device.
At Nortel, we’re already making it as simple as possible to use these different modes for wired and wireless connectivity. For the path of last resort — dial modems — a method is provided that makes it easy to select the most costeffective number to call based on dialing phone number.
The goal is a seamless experience that transcends traditional network boundaries. Users can roam from floor to floor in a building or campus, across the city and around the world. Wherever they roam, they enjoy non-disruptive voice, data and multimedia sessions, with little or no noticeable impact as they move around or cross networks. Dynamic network analysis transparently determines the most applicable connection point for data, voice and multimedia sessions.
You can achieve this ideal in progressive stages.
The first step toward this goal is a scenario whereby WLAN data and IP Telephony users can roam across subnet boundaries in a campus environment. IPsec mobility uses IPsec VPN sessions/tunnels that support a persistent IPsec connection. The connection doesn’t “break” when the user roams between enterprise WLANs, WLAN hotspots and public wireless services.
The next step comes with the emergence of dual-mode wireless smart phones and voice-enabled PDAs — complementing public wireless and WLAN capabilities. When loaded with IP Telephony or multimedia clients running over IPsec VPNs, these devices will enable on-premises users to set up and receive sessions over the public network or an enterprise WLAN.
The final step is for seamless WLAN/public wireless roaming services based on IP networking and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). With this approach, enterprises can either use their own IP Telephony or unified communications system or subscribe to a hosted offering from a service provider.
On the wired side, true mobility embraces IP Telephony to simplify and enhance the user experience across network domains, enable new levels of convergence and profoundly change the way employees, partners and customers communicate.
Enterprise Mobility Dimension #2
Provide a consistent, highquality user experience.
Unified communications simplify today’s patchwork of devices and services.
Mobility today is delivered in a highly fragmented world of multiple devices, multiple phone numbers, multiple mailboxes, multiple security procedures, device-dependent interfaces and disjointed communication applications (such as telephony, IM and conferencing). This scenario is further complicated by the proliferation of mobile devices, ranging from smart phones and PDAs to tablet PCs and laptops, running under a handful of different operating systems. The new vision of mobility establishes a consistent quality of experience across these various devices, with “unified” communications that:
- Integrate presence across a broad range of activities and user devices, such as phones, PCs, laptops and PDAs
- Converge asynchronous communications (such as e-mail, voice mail, short message services) and synchronous communications (such as IM, voice, video and application sharing)
- Enrich mobile communications with voice and multimedia capabilities
“Engaged” applications redefine the possibilities for collaboration and customer care.
With the attributes of unified communications in place, applications can engage, not just connect. The network can deliver critical and time-sensitive information precisely when, where and how users need it. For example, imagine your customer support center being able to locate and engage the specialist that can best meet the client’s needs, drawing on a geographically distributed pool of specialists. Imagine a supply chain management application that brings the right people together — anytime, anywhere — to resolve a supply or delivery issue. Or a collaboration application that makes it easy for dispersed creative teams to spawn new innovations.
The pivotal glue for this vision is SIP — a signaling and control protocol for initiating sessions between and among users, regardless of the media being used. SIP enables communications sessions to understand and preserve “presence” — attributes associated with a person’s location or activities. When SIP is embedded in business telephony, users can connect over any device — anytime, anywhere.
Here are some other examples of unified communications available today or being rolled out:
- Speech-activated voice mail, e-mail and fax handling by phone. Handsfree access to messages allows mobile workers to remain productive while away from the office.
- Web-based messaging and personal mailbox administration. Users can access messages and manage their personal mailbox from any Internet browser.
- Voice portals. Hands-free access delivers any information on the intranet, including pricing, supply, product and financial data.
- Speaker verification/passwords provide hands-free user authentication or another level of security.
- Access to Web portals from public PCs (no client software required) provides unified mail retrieval; voice mail, fax and e-mail handling; booking and handling of conference bridges; and multimedia collaboration with personal call routing rules.
- Location services offer location-based authentication and privileges, location based presence and I/O management (such as using a PDA to control display of detailed images on a nearby high resolution monitor).
Applications such as these make it intuitive and easy to use mobility applications — applying technology to drive ever closer to recreating the in-person experience.
Uses are not just connected and engaged. They’re in control.
The frenetic culture of the Internet Age brainwashes us to believe that we must be constantly available to everyone, all the time. The notion is that collaboration and connection must be instant, on demand — or else productivity will suffer. In reality, this kind of neverending connectivity can stifle the very productivity it purports to create. When employees can be interrupted at any time, gone is the focused opportunity to research and reflect, conduct private meetings with important clients and dedicate one’s focus to the task at hand.
Where mobility does have the potential to over-run its users, our vision of mobility gives users dominion over exactly how and when their communications follow them and when they leave them alone.
End users enjoy a high degree of control as to how their presence is communicated (or hidden), and how incoming sessions are handled — based on caller, media used, time of day and ultimately even on location. They have tremendous flexibility to customize their communications to suit their work requirements, schedule and preferences.
With our vision of unified communications, users have a single control panel from which to access directory information, launch and/or receive multimedia sessions, participate in multi-party calls, initiate IM or application sharing sessions, track the availability of coworkers (via presence) and manage their availability (via personal agents).
Nortel is a recognized leader in delivering communications capabilities that enhance the human experience, ignite and power global commerce, and secure and protect the world’s most critical information. Nortel delivers innovative technology solutions encompassing end-to-end broadband, Voice over IP, multimedia services and applications, and wireless broadband.
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