There’s no need to wonder what to do about the proliferation of mobile devices and employees’ demonstrated desire to use those devices at work. So says Gartner in its latest report, based on a survey of IT professionals in large enterprises across the US, EMEA and Asia.
In “User Survey Analysis: Impact of Mobile Devices on Network and Data Center Infrastructure,” the analysts’ advice includes:
- Get a mobile data protection (MDP) strategy in place. This recommendation echoes that in a recent Forrester report on mobility planning that I’ve written about previously
- Implement strong network access control (NAC) measures. BYOD is the motivator here, but the advice applies even for enterprises that allow only organization-issued devices to connect.
- Take advantage of mobile device management (MDM) tools sooner, not later
All of this amounts to creating and deploying a standardized mobile platform for the enterprise, which organizations must achieve if they’re to protect themselves, their employees and the customers or constituents they serve.
BYOD: still a concern.
Some of the survey’s findings are unsettling. For example, a large number of enterprises surveyed are allowing personal mobile devices to connect to their networks. This echoes my opinion that BYOD is a risky choice.
Many enterprises noted they provide technical support for personal devices, but this differs between BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and non-BRIC countries: 28 percent in non-BRIC compared to 44 percent in BRIC countries.
Enterprises in more mature economies, with greater infrastructure, software and data investments, have more to lose, and see security and data privacy as key issues. Those organizations are more likely to face the risks associated with BYOD. Survey respondents from those developed countries, not surprisingly, cited a greater need for architecture investments (to safely support mobile access) than did those in BRIC.
HVD’s: Hotter in developing economies.
Consistent with their divergent BYOD perspectives, BRIC and non-BRIC respondents also differed significantly in their plans to implement hosted virtual desktops (HVDs). By 2013, 91 percent of BRIC respondents say their enterprises will have transformed traditional desktop PC environments to HVD – many already have – while only 67% of non-BRIC enterprises have similar plans.
Limiting employee-owned devices to virtual desktops is one way to help keep sensitive data off mobile devices, reducing risks if they are lost are stolen. In either case, Gartner includes HVDs in its list of top 10 tablet business apps to watch.
Second to BYOD concerns, survey participants see deployment of new enterprise mobile platforms as a top issue—hence Gartner’s recommendations to focus on MDP, NAC and NDM.
Is BYOD avoidable?
Possibly, but Gartner recommends creating a mobility strategy team within every IT department. These teams can focus on data management and control, while enterprises as a whole need to understand the tradeoffs between providing managed devices and reimbursement for employee-provided devices.
We will all likely be arguing the merits of alternative mobile device policies for some time. What’s certain, says Gartner, is that the explosion in consumer mobile devices is forcing traditional IT environments to change—quickly.
What’s your enterprise’s stance on BYOD? What investments have been made, and what’s in the offing?
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