"Remember when IT planned corporate-wide end-user technology roll-outs? Distributing company-owned, IT-managed devices was a very controlled process. Employees had to get IT approval to use an unauthorised device, even if it was useful and increased productivity. IT was the gatekeeper of everything enterprise and it ruled the network with a combination of strict policies, purpose-built technologies, and a fully contained ecosystem. Those days are long gone."
So says Ammar Enaya, Regional Director, Middle East, Aruba Networks. And indeed, it would be difficult to disagree with him. As smart mobile devices have proliferated over the past five years, organisations are finding it harder and harder to stop employees from accessing corporate networks with personal smartphones, tablets and even laptops. Some commentators call the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend "unstoppable", and predict that, before long, most employees will be demanding to use their own, often top-of-the-range, devices for work purposes.
This has led to a problem for CIOs, though. After all, end-users can't always be trusted to keep their devices safe from malware. What's more, with so many people now using the Android operating system on their smartphones and tablets, and the alarming increase of malware being made for the OS, CIOs are right to be wary about these devices interacting with their networks.
"It is very important to have a clear view and control over devices accessing enterprise networks. Pre-BYOD, IT departments had more control over what devices are connected to the network, thus better control over security at end points. With the explosion of personal devices entering enterprise networks, it is crucial that corporate data remains secure as ever. With BYOD, every user device becomes critical and requires equal attention to ensure protection from mobile malware and data leak prevention," says Mathew Pirlson, Head of Business Support, Momenta Global.
To gain the sort of visibility they need into networks now supporting BYOD--by choice or not--CIOs are now turning to mobile device management (MDM) solutions. The point of most of these solutions is to allow employees to use whatever device they want, but to control what data these devices can access, and how they interact with the network. Many solutions can also provide information, through a centralised dashboard, on how much data devices are consuming or uploading, what sort of data this is, and whether or not the device is likely to be compromised.
It sounds like a no-brainer, but according to Prilson, MDM penetration in the Middle East is still low, despite the high device penetration. However, he adds that Momenta Global expects to see increasing numbers of MDM deployments over the coming years, as mobile access and workflow become more important.
Indeed, it seems like companies need to wise up to emerging MDM technologies as more and more employees demand to access corporate networks with personal devices. That's how Jatin Sahni, Vice President, Large Enterprise and Business Solutions, du, sees things, anyway.
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