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BYOD battle: A tale of two opposing IT viewpoints

Enterprise Mobile Device Management software plays a big role in BYOD acceptance

By , Network World
April 19, 2012 06:03 AM ET

Network World - EdSouth is a bank holding company active in the student-loan arena, and Arrow Container Corp. manufactures cartons and containers. Their ideas about letting employees use their own mobile devices at work for business — what's often called "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) — couldn't be more different.

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"We have not adopted the 'Bring Your Own Device' mentality," says Jeff Gibbs, CIO at Knoxville, Tenn.-based EdSouth. Gibbs says in moving to adopt the new generation of mobile devices for employees, it was important to standardize on a specific platform, and in this case the Apple iPhone and iPad were selected. Security is being enforced in various ways, including the EchoWorx software, which is sold by AT&T. EchoWorx is used on the mobile endpoints to encrypt sensitive data. Gibbs says it works by prompting the user for a password and encrypts e-mail messages.

For EdSouth, it was the standardization of the mobile platform that was important, and that it be the property of the company, which would be focused on more development efforts around it. Gibbs expressed some skepticism about whether BYOD would work with these requirements.

For Arrow Container Corp, based in Indianapolis, BYOD is regarded as a fundamental future strategy.

Most employees in the company, whether they be in manufacturing, shipping or sales, already have a smartphone, and sometimes tablets, too, these days, says Jason Charnov, systems administrator there. "They all have them," he points out. "It's an infrastructure that's already there."

Arrow Container had until recently been focused on RIM BlackBerries for staff that needed them, but the widespread BlackBerry service outage that occurred last year was somewhat of a shock, and also left the IT staff there with the feeling that there was a disadvantage in having everything centrally controlled under one model. "It's their carrier plans, their services, their management," says Charnov.

After that episode, the company looked at using Apple devices, but ultimately decided to provide sales people with Android smartphones. Then the BYOD idea took hold, with the first thought that if workers on the factory and shipping floor, who already seemed to be carrying around personal Androids, could be linked into the enterprise network and encouraged to solve production issues with clients directly, it would help the business a lot.

"The machine operators like the fact they're now part of the conversation," says Charnov, saying e-mail integration with these BYOD-welcomed Androids has begun. Charnov says the company isn't requiring employees to buy Androids for personal use but encouraging it.

He acknowledges there's concern about protecting sales data. Mobile-device management (MDM) software was picked as part of the BYOD effort in order to exert company controls over the personal devices. The company uses Enterproid Divide, a software-as-a-service that creates a so-called "dual-persona" environment for Android where some apps and data are cordoned off for enterprise use, others for personal use.

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