• Is Windows RT Enterprise Ready… Yet?

    Fast forward a year and Windows RT 8.1 may now very well be ready for the enterprise and consumer to boot. In fact I think Windows RT is the PC your mother should have.

    Asus VivoTab RT with 3G

    At MSC Mobility we are always trying to challenge the status quo and test the use case that is mobility. With Windows RT 8.1 and the ‘enterprise pack’ now offering a suitable level of management via our MDM services we decided to put it to the test once again with one of the new additions to our Victorian sale team, Sam Baker.

    A quick scan of eBay turned up an Asus VivoTab RT refurb unit that came with a keyboard and more importantly 3G connectivity which was one of the pre requisites (and quite hard to find in an RT device) for this challenge.

    So it’s a tablet, a laptop and a dockable PC. Perfect right?

    The first question I hear you say is ‘so why bother with the restrictions of RT? Why not just jump to Windows 8.1 Pro and be done with it.’ To understand this at the core we need to understand the difference between a desktop OS like Windows, OSX or Linux vs a mobile operating system like Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows RT and more importantly what that difference means to the enterprise.

    Toolbar overload is a common reason to deploy and use a SoE

    The traditional desktop OS has been with us for a long time and along with the open hackable, programmable and mature operating system comes a lot of shall we say bloat and risk. With bloat and risk comes cost to manage. Most enterprise’s lock down a desktop to a Standard Operating Environment (SoE). The locked down SoE offers clear direction, management and cost for the enterprise but often leaves the user wanting more. ‘I just need to install this program or extension’ is a common service desk request. Current market data puts the management of a SoE at between $130 and $170 per month. The majority of the cost is in testing and releasing new versions of the SoE. The risk of infection or security breach makes up a significant component of this cost. This is due to what I call the bottom up access of a desktop OS. That is, any application can get root access to the operating system and effectively ‘see’ other applications that are installed. Once an application knows what is on the operating system it can then exploit any vulnerabilities. It is for this reason that extensive testing and effective SoE lockdown is so important for an enterprise. That seemingly ‘safe’ extension deployed in V1 has the ability to become rogue in V2 if not checked and macros within the Office suite can run havoc if enabled. Some enterprise SoE’s have hundreds of applications, extensions and macros that need to be continually tested to avoid this.

    Modern mobile OS's use App Sandboxing with top down access

    Modern mobile OS’s use App Sandboxing with top down access

    The modern mobile operating system however works on a completely new premise of sandboxing all applications and restricting extensions via closed app stores and limited permission sets. I call this top down access. Any application can request access to another application via published API’s with user permission prompts. ie: I would like application A to access my contacts or pictures as two common examples that you have probably seen on your smartphone or tablet on first run of a newly installed app.

    Even when permission is granted the access is still over the top rather than along the bottom so nefarious additional behaviour without your knowledge is very unlikely. No app can see another app nor get root level access to it is the basic premised of a modern mobile OS. This walled garden approach offers a much higher level of security while also offering application freedom for the user in the modern world. So with RT deployed and managed via MDM there is very little risk of users getting themselves in much trouble, no concerns about too many toolbars ‘appearing’ in Internet Explorer (IE) or dangerous apps with known vulnerabilities being installed. Microsoft have taken this message to heart right down to Office RT being limited in what it can do. Macros in Excel and Word are probably the 2 biggest issues that may arise if you were to deploy RT and your company relies heavily on them as they are severely restricted in Office RT.

    As part of the RT 8.1 update VPN support is now available.  A year or so ago I would have said this is a must for a mobile OS however with the move to Office 365 and other cloud services MSC has now largely retired our reliance on a VPN for sales staff as a sign of the changing mobile times.

    So what happened throughout this experiment?

    • Creating proposals – We use Microsoft Word like most of the business world. We have some tables and lookups where we can put a prospect or customers name into 1 field and have it populate throughout the document. Word RT met the challenge.
    • We need to PDF documents. Word RT offers the print to PDF feature so another tick in the box.
    • Most of our reports in Excel contained drop list filters and Excel RT didn’t miss a beat.
    • With IE as the browser for access to our tablet optimised instance of ServiceNow for CRM service and support, RT was successful on all fronts.
    • GoToMeeting for our weekly sales call. There’s an app for that. Tick.
    • So what about the gorilla in the room, email. With RT 8.1 the email client was upgraded from what could be best described as a ‘consumer email’ client to Outlook RT rather so another great big (perhaps the biggest) tick of them all.
    • Using OneNote for taking notes in meetings when in pure tablet mode worked flawlessly although there are many other note taking apps in the Windows store if that floats your boat.
    • Taking a screenshot. (Something I seem to do most days for one reason or another). Tick

    Attaching a bluetooth mouse and keyboard along with a external screen was simple and highlighted the flexible nature of this device when docked into ‘desktop mode’. This is something an iPad simply cannot do.

    The setup.  Outlook 8.1 RT running on small screen and connected to 24” monitor up scaling resolution to 1920 x 1080.  Editing a Word document and browsing the internet.  Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (no dongle required.)

    The setup.

    Outlook 8.1 RT running on small screen and connected to 24” monitor up scaling resolution to 1920 x 1080.  Editing a Word document and browsing the internet.  Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (no dongle required.)

    We found all 3 use cases were required most weeks.

    1. Plugging the tablet into the supplied keyboard offered a suitable ultra-book solution for any sales guy with a whopping 17 hours of battery life to support a real full work day mobile experience.
    2. Tablet only mode matched our personal needs for social feeds like facebook and twitter along with effective consumption while on the go and meeting note taking.
    3. Full desktop mode when more screen real estate was required.

    So is RT now ready for the enterprise? The answer almost certainly lies in your company’s mobile strategy. As we did at MSC, if you can take a segment of your workforce and offer them a mobile operating system over a desktop operating system you can expect your management costs to be significantly reduced. Understanding what your users need and then deploying the most appropriate mobile OS from there is almost certainly the best first step. Will you be able to remove your entire desktop OS fleet? Most certainly not. Will you be able to reduce your desktop fleet is the question you should be asking your business.

    If a $500-$800 ultra-mobile device that works as a tablet, ultrabook and desktop, with management costs representative of the mobile device rather than a desktop sounds like it is something you’re your organisation could benefit from, then talk to MSC Mobility about developing your mobile strategy to transform your organisation today.

    MSC Mobility consulting helps enterprise and government customers navigate this mobile transformation so you can make the right decision the first time.

    Have you deployed windows RT? We would love to hear about your experiences.

  • site-map
  • Mobile Market Attraction

    Below is an article I just wrote for my current employer MSC Mobility.


    Watching the mobile market for many years now it is interesting to see the wholesale changes that have happened like BYOD consumerisation and adoption vs the mainstays of where the true ROI lays. (Field service automation etc). The IT world has a habit of coming up with new names for the same thing. Cloud = Mainframe…

    So to get above the weeds in your MDM selection we have started to see attraction becoming more and more important. In my opinion I see 3 layers of attraction:

    1. The Consumer.

    The devices you choose to deploy must have consumer market attraction to be successful. Blackberry, Symbian or Win Mo are 3 examples of platforms that now have no market attraction. Deploying these would be the same as telling your employees they need to wear cardigans with leather patches on the elbows as their uniform or insisting that CRT monitors are going to make a comeback. The device, simply put, must be attractive.

    CRT Monitor.png

    2.  The Platform.

    The MDM platform you choose must also be attractive to the device manufacturer. The likes of Citrix, MobileIron or AirWatch are very attractive to Samsung and Apple because of their amazing market penetration (1000’s of customer each). The attraction leads to deep partnering to ensure they are on the inside of what is coming next like per app VPN from Apple’s latest iOS release or Samsung’s Knox program for added security.  Should you pick a non-attractive MDM vendor with little market share such as Silverback MDM, Amtel or Excitor – who all failed to make it into the Gartner magic quadrant at all this year – you may well be left on the side-line wondering what went wrong when everyone else offers support for something new like Knox.

    3.  The Ecosystem. 

    The wider eco system is probably the most significant aspect of enterprise attraction. In recent times it can be argued that Apple has fallen behind the cool curve and that their current phone is too small. It is however their enormous market attraction and eco system that still provides the necessary attraction to keep them on top of the hill. From car integration to docks and of course the amazing App Store. In enterprise terms you should be looking for the equivalent. Is the MDMattractive to your current firewall provider, mail platform, certificate provider, Document ManagementSystem, Web Filtering Gateway and so on.  AirWatchMobileIron and Citrix have all launched extensive app partner programs ranging from app connect to Mobile Application Management. Their solutions are designed to ensure you can go above and beyond email on a mobile phone and hence their broad market penetration.

    Some in the technology office still hold to the mantra ‘we can tell the users what they can have’ however in a consumer driven world attractiveness is a major determinant. Perhaps more enterprise friendly products will gain greater traction combining wow-factor with enterprise needs… or perhaps IT will simply have to give users what they want.

  • Nexus for iPad Demo

    Well I have my 15 mins (or really 5 mins and 7 seconds) of fame on http://iongrid.com/content/resources

    I really like the Nexus for iPad product and think it has a big future ahead of it.  The best is yet to come.

  • The marshmallow challenge

    I really like the lessons in this talk.

  • privacy
  • Windows Phone 7 vs iPhone4 vs Andriod

    Love this video

  • Dropbox Vs SugarSync

    I have been a big fan and user of Dropbox for a couple of years now and with their refer a friend get some extra storage I have 1 account up to 4Gb of storage and another up to 3Gb from the standard 2Gb issue.

    Just this week however a friend of mine sent me a link to some rather large files via a service called SugarSync.  I had not heard of SugarSync before but upon investigation and now use (needed to download the files) it appears to be a lot like Dropbox but with 5Gb of free storage (recent change) and some other nice Sugar Sync features like sync any file whereas Dropbox makes you create the files in the Dropbox folder.  Let me know in the comments which one you use and why.  Now the big question is do I change all my friend and family over to Sugar Sync or wait for Dropbox to catchup?

  • podcast
  • Customer Cradle

    Google Analytics for the rest of your business.

    I frequently listen to a podcast on my iPhone called This week in StartUp.  A few weeks back while I was out for a run when an Aussie happen to hit the airwaves with a product pitch for a thing called Customer Cradle.    The pitch was on the money and in 1 minute Sam (Customer Cradle founder) had me thinking… this is a great fit for some of my many friends and business acquaintances I have formed over the past few years that I have taken on a journey through IT.

    In a nut shell it does what Google Analytics does for your website for the rest of your business.  ie:  It gives you meaningful data that you can measure success (or failure) against.  How many businesses out there have no real idea how effective their marketing is.  Did they get a response from the newspaper, the flyer drop, the radio ad or did they just trip over and fall in the front door.  Most businesses just simply guess.  Some try to use complicated customer relationship managment software (CRM) solutions.

    Customer Cradle just keeps it simple.  You either use it via the website or via a little application that sits in your system tray (the bit at the bottom right on your screen).  Customer walks in and during your conversation you simply ask a couple of questions.  How did you hear about us etc.  You then click a few check boxes and your done.  The simplistic nature of the product is it’s big advantage.  Let’s face it if your staff don’t use it you will get no data.  Click on the image at the top, wander over and have a look at the demo for yourself and sign up for a free trial.

  • terms
  • iPhone 4 gets 900MHz HSDPA

    Well a few months back I predicted what the iPhone would look like.  (Yes before the lost iPhone). I am happy to say I got it about 90% right with the happy exceptions of the battery being better and the size, with it being thinner.

    All in all I think the iPhone 4 is probably good enough for me to stay with the Apple camp for another 2 years rather than hopping on the Andriod bandwagon just yet.  Now its time to wait and see what Optus are going to offer it for.

    Another very nice suprise is the inclusion of the 900MHz HSDPA radio frequency.  Optus have been investing heavily in 900MHz and especially in regional areas so this will suit me to a tee.  If the iPhone 4 did not have the 900MHz in it I was going to seriously consider jumping ship.

  • Carbonite Online Backup

    It’s not a matter of if your hard drive will fail… it’s just when your hard drive will fail.

    I have been lucky enough to purchase a Drobo to backup our photos and movies from our iMac and it works wonderfully well.  Read all about it here. However my laptop has been using a single external hard drive to back up which just died… unfortunatley I had some data on there that was not on my laptop drive so it is bye bye to that.  (Nothing to critical).  So I started thinking should I purcahse yet another backup drive or should I check out some fo the online services now that I have 50Gb per month with Bigpond to burn up.

    I narrowed it down to Mozy and Carbonite quite quickly.  I have used Mozy before (few years ago) at it worked quite well.  This time I have chosen to go with Carbonite and I am very happy with it.  No credit card to sign up, no limit to the size you can backup and simple to use.   Why not give it a try.  You just point it to the files you want it to back up and click go.

    I once heard the backup idea of 3,2,1.  3 copies of everything on 2 different media (DVD, harddirve etc) and 1 offsite.  Not a bad rule to live by.  I think adding the addition of… it must be automatic.  If its not you probably wont get around to doing it in which case why even have a backup plan.

    Online Backup: Easy, Complete Automatic. Secure. Carbonite

    Click on the banner to try Carbonite out today.  Go on you know you should.

  • address
  • Triathlon Coaching

    I have been known to participate in a few triathlons from time to time.  (Most of them before the kids came along) They are great fun once you get into it.  James Cousins a good mate of mine from my skiing days has just launched a new triathlon coaching site which I helped him setup.  So if you are in need of some coaching in the real sense and you are lucky enough to live in Brisbane look him up but if you don’t he also offers virtual training via the site.  www.3jc.com.au

    James has competed in the Hawaii Ironman… for those that don’t know…its bloody tough.

    I developed this site using word press which is what the site you are looking at runs on.

  • about