IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Bracing for BYOD and Beyond with Ananth Vaidyanathan, ManageEngine, a division of Zoho Corp.February 25, 2013 No Comments
In the below interview, Ananth Vaidyanathan from ManageEngine discusses the ever growing role that Mobile is playing within businesses today, and emphasizes the value of efficient and reliable desktop and mobile device management software.
- Q. Your desktop and mobile device management software, Desktop Central, is running in organizations of all sizes, from SMBs to Fortune 500 companies. Is there a common theme in your customers’ IT departments?
A. The common theme is mobile. Across the board, from mom-and-pop to enterprise networks, mobile is playing a dominant role. And it’s no wonder, really. Mobile is enabling productivity on the go for a growing number of end users and IT professionals alike. Armed with smartphones and tablets that they carry everywhere, end users are free to work whenever and wherever they have a cellular or WiFi connection. Likewise, more IT staffers are using mobile devices to gain 24×7 visibility for monitoring and managing IT infrastructure, and determining its impact on business.
- Q. What role is “bring your own device” (BYOD) playing in the overall mobile trend?
A. BYOD is accelerating the mobile juggernaut for our customers at least. What’s happening is that more conservative, mainstream IT organizations are joining the early adopters and entering the BYOD era. A 2012 Forrester Research report found that 54 percent of North American and European firms have deployed BYOD programs for smartphones and tablets. And Forrester claims that “mobile is the new face of engagement,” predicting 200 million employees will bring their own devices into the enterprise by 2016. Related developments, such as ‘bring your own application’ (BYOA), will further entrench mobile devices in the enterprise.
- Q. How does BYOA figure into the mobile equation?
A. BYOA is basically an extension of BYOD. Once employees bring their own devices into the office, they now have the opportunity to use the apps on their devices while accessing the corporate network and network resources. The upside to BYOA is that users can work with their preferred applications to get their jobs done, which should make them more efficient, productive and satisfied. But there’s also a downside to BYOA. When employees’ personal apps aren’t screened or approved by the IT department, they pose still more security risks to enterprise data and resources. For instance, an employee Box running on his iPhone could easily load copies of company information into his Box account without the company’s consent.
- Q. So is supporting BYOA a mistake?
A. It is if companies aren’t going to manage it. As Forrester notes, formal BYOD programs are running in more than 50 percent of North American and European firms. Those companies should also have formal BYOA programs — or at least have plans to implement a BYOA program — because every single BYOD smartphone and tablet is going to have employee-owned apps on it. Recognizing that BYOD and BYOA go hand in hand, IT departments need a way to manage BYOA. For instance, you need to be able to blacklist and whitelist apps running on employee-owned devices, so IT staff can monitor and control their use.
- Q. What other tactics are IT departments using to secure their mobile device populations?
A. Companies are starting to pay attention to the “non-network” communications capabilities of mobile devices, especially the near field communication (NFC) technology that’s shipping on today’s smartphones. The concern is that hackers with an active NFC reader can eavesdrop on an NFC-enabled smartphone and steal corporate data from up to 10 meters away. So, IT needs a way to lock down NFC. They have to be able to detect if a mobile device has NFC enabled, and if so, they need to be notified and be capable of disabling NFC.
- Q. How else is mobile impacting IT teams?
A. Some teams wind up managing their mobile devices from one console and their laptops and desktops from another console, and that’s just adding another layer of complexity to the IT management task. Other teams are weaving mobile devices into the overall IT management framework and using a single console to manage all of their end users, whether using mobile or traditional devices. For mobile devices, specifically, IT has to address a number of points, including:
- Device support – Android and iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch
- Security management – including the ability to lock devices, erase device data, erase corporate settings, clear passcodes, and execute other security commands
- Asset management – including the ability to view certificates and profiles installed, restriction details, security information, app inventory, and device information
- Configuration management – including the ability to enable passcodes, impose restrictions, configure email, enable Exchange ActiveSync, and configure VPN and WiFi settings
- Policy management – including the ability to automatically deploy policies based on device ownership, monitor devices for compliance with BYOD policies, alert IT staff to compliance violations and revoke access to network resources
Ananth Vaidyanathan is a product marketing manager at ManageEngine, a division of Zoho Corp. where he plans and oversees the marketing activities for the desktop and mobile device management products. Ananth plays a key role in developing marketing strategies used in reaching the IT decision makers of different verticals to create product awareness and to increase their IT productivity. He has been with ManageEngine for over 11 years.
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