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SAP Mobile Documents: A Secure Way to Access Business Documents Anytime, Anywhere

by Annette Fuchs | SAPinsider, Volume 15, Issue 3

July 1, 2014

Every day, employees move business files onto their mobile devices so they can work at home, on the road, or at client sites. How do you make sure that confidential business data stays confidential? This article introduces SAP’s answer to this challenge — SAP Mobile Documents, which provides a way for users to securely access personal business documents and corporate content from anywhere, at any time.

 

The proliferation rate of mobile devices has increased significantly in recent years. Every day, employees move business files onto their mobile devices so they can work at home, on the road, or at client sites. Professionals such as salespeople, engineers, executives, and bankers reach for their smartphones or tablets to share, review, approve, write, read, edit, present, or perform countless other work-related activities. They store presentations, PDFs, videos, Microsoft Word documents, and spreadsheets alongside personal content such as photos and music. Further, they use all types of mobile devices for these activities — including laptops, tablets, and smartphones — across numerous platforms — including Apple, BlackBerry, and Android.
 
The result is a blurring of the lines between work and private lives, along with increased risks, redundancies, and wasted effort and resources. As a result of these blurred lines, many questions arise that IT departments need to address.
 
With compliance and security in mind, how do you make sure that confidential data stays confidential? How do you protect the company’s intellectual property? How do you make sure that only authorized users can access business documents? And how do you keep your users productive while maintaining control over business-critical data?

A Necessary Challenge

A survey in 2012 revealed that 80% of employees need to access work documents outside the office, 66% use free file-sharing platforms to share corporate documents, and 77% use personal mobile devices for their work.1 Salespeople who work after-office hours or on a business trip need to access important business documents, such as price lists and presentations. Executives need to stay up to date with the latest reports, or work on confidential strategic papers, so they need to have the most current information at their fingertips. If IT does not offer a solution for mobilized business content, these employees will save the documents on their mobile devices or upload them to a free file-sharing account to always have access and be able to work.
 
There are many challenges related to this behavior. Saving the documents on several devices can adversely affect user efficiency as it is difficult to ensure you are accessing the latest version of a file — or even remember on which device you  last saved edits or where the original document is stored. Of much greater concern is the company’s risk. If the device is lost and sensitive data is no longer under the enterprise’s control, significant data loss can result.
 
If your confidential business data is at risk, so might be your competitive edge — not to mention your organization’s liability.

Answering the Challenge: SAP Mobile Documents

SAP’s answer to these challenges — SAP Mobile Documents — is an enterprise-grade mobile content management solution that is core to the SAP Mobile Secure enterprise mobility management (EMM) portfolio, a set of solutions that provide enterprise security for mobile devices, apps, content, and communications.

The Big Picture: The SAP Mobile Secure Portfolio

Today’s wide range of mobile operating systems, as well as the constant introduction of new devices and operating system (OS) upgrades, make secure management of mobile devices, apps, and content a major challenge. Introduced in 2013, the SAP Mobile Secure portfolio eliminates the barriers to widespread mobile adoption (see Figure 1).2 It addresses the requirement to secure mobile devices with SAP Afaria for mobile device management, mobile apps with the SAP Mobile App Protection solution by Mocana, and mobile content with SAP Mobile Documents. The portfolio is available on premise, in the cloud, or in a hybrid scenario (cloud with an on-premise connection).

The SAP Mobile Secure portfolio

Figure 1 — The SAP Mobile Secure portfolio

Content Management with SAP Mobile Documents

SAP Mobile Documents provides mobile document management with many advanced functions. You can:

  • Sync your business content to your devices to make them available online or offline.
  • Access your files from anywhere at any time.
  • Share documents with others.
  • Take photos from the application or import them.
  • Exchange large data volumes without straining the network with heavy loads.

You can not only manage your personal business documents with SAP Mobile Documents, but also integrate your corporate content. You can even incorporate SAP Mobile Documents into custom apps to make it an integral part of your business process. The product offers enterprise-grade security, flexible deployment scenarios, and the ability to extend it according to your needs.
 
The current release of SAP Mobile Documents, version 1.0 SP2, is available for a variety of platforms, clients, and deployment options (see Figure 2). You can use the desktop client for Microsoft Windows and Mac operating systems to comfortably work with your documents in your everyday work environment in the office. You can use the web client to work with documents, and share folders if you have no other client available. And you can access and share your documents from your mobile device, such as an iPad (see Figure 3).

Supported platforms, clients, and deployment options for SAP Mobile Documents

Figure 2 — Supported platforms, clients, and deployment options for SAP Mobile Documents

The SAP Mobile Documents mobile client for iPad

Figure 3 — The SAP Mobile Documents mobile client for iPad

A Peek Under the Hood: How SAP Mobile Documents Works

From an architectural point of view (see Figure 4), documents are stored in a content management repository — that is, in an SAP Knowledge Management system or any other content management repository (e.g., Microsoft SharePoint or OpenText) that supports the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) standard.3 The document access is performed with the SAP Mobile Documents runtime.

Architectural overview of SAP Mobile Documents

Figure 4 — Architectural overview of SAP Mobile Documents

SAP Mobile Documents provides a comprehensive set of features for both the runtime as well as the application itself (see Figure 5). For the runtime, the administrator can define document classification levels for the connected repositories. For each level, the administrator can restrict the allowed activities. For example, if a repository is classified as confidential, a user may be allowed to only open a document, whereas if a repository is classified as public, a user may be able to open, share, and send a document. For the application itself, the administrator can set a passcode, as well as its strength and the number of incorrect entries permitted.

Security settings in the SAP Mobile Documents administration user interface

Figure 5 — Security settings in the SAP Mobile Documents administration UI

Documents can be shared either with colleagues or external parties. If you want to share content with colleagues, you can restrict the access to only authenticated employees. Using a role-based concept, you assign whether your sharing partners can be an administrator or contributor, or be restricted to read-only access. Figure 6 shows the sharing setting in the admin user interface (UI).

The menu of the admin UI shows sharing settings

Figure 6 — The menu of the admin UI shows sharing settings

For public sharing, the external party does not need to be a user in your system. When you share content with somebody from outside your company, a copy of your document is created in a shared folder. The external party receives a public link to easily access the document from a web browser. It is up to you as the user to decide if you want to protect the public link with a passcode, set how long the link will be accessible, and allow write or read access. In addition, the public user interface is protected against cross-site request forgery and brute-force attacks by using a time lock after incorrect password entries. Beyond that, your data is always encrypted, no matter whether it is stored on the clients or when it is synced from the repository to the client.

Mobile Document Access — Anytime, Anywhere

SAP Mobile Documents provides a way for users to securely access personal business documents and corporate content from anywhere, at any time. In upcoming versions, SAP plans to integrate SAP Mobile Documents with SAP business applications — to enable, for example, field workers at customer sites to access floor plans from the business application using SAP Mobile Documents, or save notes from SAP Mobile Documents into the business application — allowing organizations to increase employee productivity while protecting intellectual property. Learn more at http://scn.sap.com/community/mobile-documents.

1 SkyDox, “Workforce Mobilization: What Your I.T. Department Should Know” (June 2012). [back]

2 See http://global36.sap.com/corporate-en/news.epx?category=ALL&articleID=21766&searchmode=C&page=1&pageSize=10. [back]

3 CMIS is an open standard driven by OASIS that ensures the interoperability of different content management systems over the internet. SAP is actively participating in the development of the technical specifications of the standard, which is also supported by Microsoft, IBM, OpenText, and others. [back]

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Annette Fuchs
Annette Fuchs

Annette Fuchs (annette.fuchs@sap.com) is a Senior Product Manager for SAP Mobile Documents. Before joining the SAP Mobile Documents team she led several security certification projects in SAP’s technology area like Common Criteria and FIPS 140-2.



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