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As BYOD explodes, IT managers learn to cope

Beth Stackpole | April 24, 2013
Five tech departments share strategies for coping with BYOD.

"We try to be really proactive about providing the tools that people need and want to do business," Snyder explains. "So far, we haven't had anyone showing up at my door with a [Samsung] Galaxy saying they want to use that instead."

Mulitplatform Support Headaches

MDM and MAM to the Rescue

Until recently, there was a dearth of mature technologies to help IT tackle the headaches of multiplatform device support. That's starting to change with the rise of mobile device management (MDM) and, more recently, mobile application management (MAM) software.

A wide range of MDM systems, now available from dozens of specialty vendors as well as mainstream software providers, give IT visibility into and control over diverse employee- and corporate-owned mobile devices connecting to the network. These packages give IT the tools to enforce security policies, control access to corporate resources and remotely lock and wipe devices that have been lost or stolen.

MAM pushes the technology a step further by allowing enterprises to manage and secure not just the physical device, but the data and applications hosted on the hardware.

According to Gartner, 90% of enterprises will have two or more mobile operating systems to support through 2017, and 65% of enterprises will start using MDM technology over the next five years.

Standardizing on one mobile platform was also critical for simplifying development and support -- an important point when budgets are tight and resources are limited. "By mandating one platform," Snyder says, "we can develop one app and not have to support all those additional permutations of devices."

" How it's coping: Even though the MCCA supports only one mobile platform and supplies the devices, mobile device management is still critical for control, Snyder says. The agency uses the AirWatch MDM system to build user profiles, shut down devices if necessary, wipe devices if there's a problem and push out apps.

Users are not restricted from using the corporate-owned iPhones or iPads for personal reasons -- they're even allowed to tie the devices to their personal iTunes accounts. "We're not going to be Big Brother, but if we need to wipe it, we're going to wipe it, and it's too bad if you don't have your stuff backed up," Snyder says. IT doesn't get much pushback on that policy, he says, because the procedures are clearly spelled out in the policy manuals, and users are generally thrilled to be working with a high-end device on the company's dime.

" What's on the horizon: Beyond delivering access to standard email, contacts and calendaring tools, custom app development is a top priority at the MCCA. The IT group has five people who focus on mobile app development. Some apps are built internally, and some development work is contracted out to third parties.


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