Tame BYOD with MDM, VMI, and file sync and share

Posted by Alan Earls on Oct 16, 2014 9:00:00 AM

BYOD – the bring-your-own-device revolution that has exploded the traditional world of IT – is not going away…For better or worse, top management and business owners love their iPhones, iPads, and Android devices and insist that regardless of issues of complexity and security, they should be able to use them as their front-end to all the goodies in the corporate store.

That means IT has got to follow their lead and just make it work. Fortunately, there are some helpful technologies emerging into widespread use.

BYOD_imageFor the most part, mobile device management (MDM) has been the mainstay for helping to keep mobile devices secure. MDM applications typically support distribution of applications, data, and security configuration settings for mobile devices from multiple vendors, including mobile phones, smartphones, tablets,MDM, NMI,  and computers. It can span both company-owned and consumer-owned devices. By trying to provide a measure of control over the data and configuration of devices in the network, MDM can reduce business risks.

While MDM remains a baseline investment for most organizations, it is not without its problems. For instance, it may not be able to impose strong enough controls to satisfy some organizations and may leave gaps in preventing data leakage or in protecting against attacks.  It also may not update quickly when device operating systems change.

As with the enterprise as a whole, those focusing on BYOD have realized that keeping the periphery of the organization completely secure through MDM or any other means is probably impossible– at least as a practical matter. So, instead, many organizations are looking to focus more of their spending around their most critical assets – data and mission critical applications.

That’s where concepts like containerization come into play.  Since business rarely if ever own the mobile devices that their employees use, solutions that try to completely control them not only run into resistance from users but could cause legal woes. What happens, for example, if control efforts inadvertently sweep up sensitive personal medical information?

Instead, why not simply reserve a container or “sandbox” within the device that adheres to corporate practices and where corporate information and applications reside. There may still be some performance issues associated with extra security but it’s only for the corporate-focused functions – not your personal email or your access to Facebook.

A more radical solution is to apply the virtual desktop concept to mobile – implementing a virtual mobile infrastructure (VMI). In this case, applications and data live in the cloud or on premises but not on the device itself. Boosters say with 4G signals the performance is fine, though with less robust bandwidth VMI can be more problematic for those needing heavy-duty access.

This all paints a puzzling picture for managed service providers.  BYOD is clearly challenging the traditional IT paradigm (BYOD is often mentioned along with BYOapps and even “citizen developers” as evidence of the erosion of traditional IT roles).   In many cases, it’s no longer enough to keep a client’s servers humming and back applications running smoothly.  It’s a new world, with shifting expectations

One potentially relevant technology is `file sync and share’ – which has emerged as a prominent solution category specifically to deal with the growing adoption of tablets and smart phones as well as the widespread use of personal cloud services. Intronis ECHOshare, in particular, is a strong offering, providing a solid file sync and share solution that is designed for both IT service providers and the SMB end user.

How does it work?  A web dashboard provides a way to offer businesses the sharing and collaboration they need, spanning both their traditional infrastructure and their new universe of mobile devices. Security and compliance are at the forefront but for the business, it’s easy because of the management capabilities you provide.

Incidentally, if everything having to do with mobile seems daunting, there is one positive on the horizon…According to analysts, device makers are finally starting to take security seriously and there should be at least some fundamental improvements on the horizon. Look for better security and even native sandboxing to be built into both Apple and Android devices.

Learn more: ECHOshare sync and share for business  

Topics: Cloud Trends, Customer Management

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