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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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.

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