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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Improving Endpoint Management with Justin Strong, Novell

September 28, 2012 No Comments

The evolution of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has allowed employees today to be more flexible as far as where and when they work.

Although many companies see this as a benefit, there are also security issues that arise when employees are working from their own devices.

In the below interview, Justin Strong from Novell outlines the many benefits of BYOD and how to overcome the security challenges that companies may encounter within this new working model.

Q. Today’s technology allows for people to increasingly work when and where they choose. How do you see this evolution impacting companies whose employees now have the ability to work remotely from both lap tops and mobile devices?

A. These companies will inevitably experience two broad issues:

  1. Risk: Information will become more accessible and easier to lose – this will greatly increase the potential risk to these companies (what happens when a laptop with customer information goes missing from an employee’s home), and consequentially require more time and energy to address the risk.
  2. Productivity: Employees will have the increased flexibility to work how and where they want. This kind of flexibility breeds loyalty, increases time spent on work and ultimately will push aggregate productivity higher (both in terms of worker productivity per hour as well as total hours worked). In the longer term I think this sort of flexibility will promote some radical shifts in our work-week behaviors. The traditional 8-5 / M-F culture will erode in favor of project-based/time-bound work. I see big changes coming, in particular, for knowledge workers.

Q. How can companies maximize productivity within this new working model?

A. Give the people what they are asking for. Within the capabilities of the technology available, those companies that grant their employees more flexibility and more empowerment will significantly outperform those that do not. Put another way – your employees are not only your best asset, but they know how to do their best work much better than you do. Technology is helping to remove as many barriers as possible to help achieve peak performance.

This of course needs to be tempered – sensible tools and policies to combat risk and potentially abusive employees should always be present – but favor experimenting over conservative steps.

Q. What BYOD security issues arise when individuals are working from their own personal devices, and how do we help companies begin to bridge the gap between risk and compliance?

A. First, accept that BYOD is here. The cat is out of the bag and any idea that you can simply ignore BYOD – or set a policy forbidding it – is foolhardy at best. Your employees, for all the right reasons and with the best of intentions, will not adhere to this policy all of the time. Email forwarding is perhaps the most common threat, but it’s quickly moving to file sharing and even some productivity applications. Bottom line: accept that some portion of your workforce WILL be conducting business on their personal devices whether you like it or not.

Second, accept that BYOD will only represent a PORTION of your workforce. Not everyone has a smartphone, tablet or laptop that they would prefer to work on. There will always be a need to support and enable corporate-owned devices side-by-side with BYOD, and organizations must promote security policies that reflect this.

Third, iterate, iterate and iterate some more. Too many pieces on the security and regulatory side are either A) not easily solved for all instances in your organization at this time, and/or B) subject to continued changes to regulation affecting your company.

Finally, there are a lot of angles to this: what are the legal implications for personal and company data sitting side by side (who “owns” what, and where do the company’s rights begin and the employee’s rights end?), how does a Freedom of Information Act Request apply to a government employee with government information present on their own machine? Will your employees be open to liability for lost customer information? No two companies are going to be the same, so spend some time understanding how and why your employees are using their own devices and develop a collaborative relationship with them to continually evolve your policies.

Q. How can Novell Endpoint Management solutions and ZENworks Mobile Management help companies effectively regulate and maximize the benefits of BYOD?

A. The goal of Novell ZENworks Mobile Management (ZMM for short) is to make it easy for companies to quickly put their security and management policies into play on their mobile device fleets.

In the world of mobile devices – and especially BYOD – companies are struggling to provision, secure, manage and report on their mobile fleets. BYOD complicates this by introducing the added snag of how to secure corporate data and applications that resides on a personally-owned device.

In a nutshell, ZMM allows companies to set security policies and access, as well as provision, applications and file sharing automatically, and it makes reporting on everything simple and straight forward. This goes beyond your typical MDM solution focused on only calendaring and email or a brute-force “device wipe” on features that aren’t BYOD friendly. For example, with ZMM, if an employee loses their iPhone, an IT administrator can look-up that device and selectively wipe only the corporate data from it – not just do a complete device wipe. This kind of attention to BYOD makes it more employee-friendly and allows IT and the workforce to make more sensible agreements on their terms of service. Best of all, companies can start putting more focus on the productivity benefits of BYOD.

Justin Strong, Senior Global Product Marketing Manager, Novell

Justin StrongJustin Strong loves technology and how it constantly changes the world we live in. Over the last 15 years he has spent time designing, marketing and selling both hardware and software ranging from complex proprietary wireless solutions to web-based cloud solutions and more. As Novell’s Senior Global Product Marketing Manager for the ZENworks portfolio of Systems/Endpoint Management product, he is responsible for helping customers get what they need from their technology, including how to manage and secure their device fleets of desktops, laptops smartphones and tablets. He is also the founder of Pixelture, Inc, a software company focused on in-room group collaboration. He holds a BS in Psychology from the University of Utah and and MBA from Brigham Young University.

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