Mobility

Prepare for BYOD in your organization

Jacob Bradshaw discusses a few ideas and considerations that you should chew on while building your battle plan to handle the BYOD invasion.

There are several different gift-giving occasions throughout the year, and a popular gift to give is a brand spankin' new mobile device. Whether it's a tablet, smartphone, or something in between, the receiver typically reacts with some amount of excitement and eventually brings it to work. Of course, that device poses some serious security threats that you'll need to deal with, no matter what. The absolute best thing you can do is be prepared. With that in mind, here are a few steps, ideas, and considerations that you can chew on for a bit while you build your battle plan to handle the BYOD invasion.

Begin with the end in mind

You should start at the very beginning, but far too often, we begin without actually considering what the overall picture and projection path is going to be. If we knew the destination of the desired mobile device management rollout, along with any projected stops or bumps along the way, think about how much sweeter that journey would be.

Sit down by yourself, at first, and envision what you hope the mobile device management service will allow people to do, what allowances will be made, and how quickly it needs to get there. Imagine what you need, as if you were the employee that just received the new device, as well as what you need to be able to do and what you hope to do with it. Also consider what the ideal outcome would be to keep home and work separate, if you believe that could actually happen. After you have that vision and have it recorded somewhere, start bringing this brainstorm to others within your group so that the idea and end vision can grow.

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Will there any chance that the employee can use or attempt to use your organization's intellectual property on their device?
  • Is that type of access going to be allowed? If not, how will it be blocked?
  • As an employee with a new device, how much control do you want to let your organization have over it?
  • As an IT admin, how much control do you need to have over that mobile device?
  • How big of a security threat is that mobile device to your network, and can your current infrastructure handle that much bandwidth and overhead?
  • How much security is enough from an IT standpoint, and how much is too much from a user's standpoint?
  • Once the company is managing that device, how much end-user support is going to be rendered to the user?

Planning is key to preparation

Once you have an idea of where you're going, start diving into things that need to be done. Be sure to address some common concepts, including hardware, security tools, privacy concerns, and application support.

When it comes to iOS devices, you know what you're getting. Thanks to Apple's standardization and rigid rules for manufacturers, every Apple device is just like the other Apple device. As an IT Admin, this will help you a great deal. Android, unfortunately, is not so clean. The open platform of Android has attracted several companies and hardware manufacturers alike to start creating their own tablets, nearly all with the intent to compete with the iPad in some way.

Competition aside, if the hardware differs enough, you may decide to support some models and not others. Sadly, no two Android devices are ever created equally. So, with these things in mind, here are additional considerations that you should contemplate as you build your BYOD plan:

  • What  devices will you allow on your network?
  • Can you manage these devices using your chosen MDM solution?
  • Are you going offer basic troubleshooting and support for the devices that your users bring in?
  • How many people do you want working on this project with you? What's the bare minimum number of people that you need for this project?
  • How are you going to track the users that have devices?
  • How many devices are you going to allow each person to use? Remember, that person could have a tablet, a smartphone, a laptop, a desktop, and another device that hasn't been discussed before, such as a smart watch. Don't laugh, they do exist.
  • How are you going to handle rooted devices?

Naturally, these are only some questions to help you get started on your way to building your own MDM solution and contingency plans within your organization. There will be many more questions that you'll have to answer along the way, but hopefully this guide will get you started on the mindset that you need to begin. Please share your experiences and other situations that have arisen in the comments below.

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About

Jacob Bradshaw is a Systems Admin for the Marriott Library at the University of Utah. He manages all things Mac and mobile related and still geeks out over the latest in all things mobile.

6 comments
TechDRepublic
TechDRepublic

Excellent article. We were strictly a BlackBerry organization (we issued the BBs) and slowly i'm seeing the trend of the BYOD. First it started with iPads/iPhones (company issued / only for big wigs). Then, any user that had an iPhone/iPad that wanted to get access to email, we would give them the server address/configuration (but we would not directly support it). Now i'm seeing a trend of configuring user's personal BB's (as long as its approved by mgmt / and we would have to support). I've even heard of a couple of instances of Android phones. I'm not sure how they are managing this at the top (since i'm only tech support), but I see the trend of eventually me supporting all these different devices. I can see it giving us tech support people a lot of issues, since just the original BBs were/are giving us many problems alone. The user who posted that management can change this on a whim is absolutely right. Be ready for this, because if some higher ups decide they want to appease to their higher up buddies and buddies throughout the organization, you'll be supporting it soon. I do see this as a trend in general.

sabiodun
sabiodun

I am really happy for you ....that you do not have any BYOD issue to deal with at the moment but for how long? All it will take is a change at the top and a new guys with a different opinion comes in at the top and before you know it BYOD is real and live in your face! Resigning is not a good option cos wherever you go you are definitely going to encounter it. So why not just start getting ready for it cos the truth is that if the business demand it you just have to support or even be the one to provide IT.. So be a BOY SCOUT and BE PREPARED! which is what the posting is all about. Cheers

Stirlin
Stirlin

I have an interesting dilemma here; As a consultant, myself and others I work with use our smart phones/tablets in meetings to take notes etc and find them invaluable, BUT, if my current client asks, I am going to have to suggest they block them for security reasons (sensetive data compliance) I can hear it now.... "But. You use one." I think I will start thinking about my best response now.

MikeRigsby
MikeRigsby

I'm grateful to be working where I am because we'll never implement BYOD here due to security related requirements. If they did, I'd likely quit because BYOD is a support and logistics nightmare.

Angel_Tech
Angel_Tech

at my work, we started with a no BYOD policy till we had wireless everywhere and it was just needed not just by regular employees but also for guests... of course it's secured and the access is limited but that gave a start for other employees who wanted to have access through their personal devices.. a new policy was created so employees can connect their devices to our wireless but they knew they couldnt get any access to our file servers for security reasons.... anyways. employees started to ask to get their emails in their devices and now, even though we dont really support all these devices (android, ipod/ipad/iphone, tablet, laptop). the need is there and we just need to be prepared and flexible to do it.. why? because all it takes is for one administrator to say something like 'why does X business have it and we dont?' to put you against the wall questioning 'can't you do it?'. .. our policy is very firm on not letting a non-supported device to access our servers and if they dont like it, they can always put a note into the 'suggestion box'.. Cheers :)

MikeRigsby
MikeRigsby

I work for a Military Contractor so BYOD here will literally never happen. However, I do see it's value for relatively small to medium sized businesses who don't have an IT staff. I just recognize the massive amount of support that will be required if a larger company that does have an IT staff decides to implement it. Decisions like that are almost never made by individuals that have to actually deal with the consequences of their decisions so they never think through all the negative aspects of the decision.

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