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BYOD can’t just happen. It takes careful consideration of the policies that will define acceptable use for mobile employees.
Through bring your own device (BYOD) policies, IT has to manage every aspect of the BYOD lifecycle. That lifecycle is quickly becoming such a tangle of security, compliance and performance concerns that it can be difficult to know who should be involved with what. Establishing guidelines for each stage of BYOD deployment, management and monitoring can help you simplify the journey.
As procedures for supporting enterprise mobility have become more complex, the BYOD lifecycle has become more complicated as well. To get the most from mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM), mobile information management (MIM) and enterprise mobility management (EMM) systems, the policies you create should support as many aspects of the BYOD lifecycle as possible.
First steps in the BYOD lifecycle
The BYOD lifecycle has many stages and involves multiple business roles. It starts with defining acceptable use, security and management policies, which is the responsibility of business data and application owners working with systems administrators and security professionals. These policies should reflect known risks and security priorities.
Software developers must then wrap existing apps to meet those policies and ensure that new apps meet the company’s BYOD guidelines. After that, the developers should collaborate with the BYOD administrators responsible for maintaining the enterprise repository of approved apps.
The next step in the BYOD lifecycle is deploying the management software, server and console. Part of that implementation should involve employees registering their devices using a self-service portal. Employees are also usually responsible for unregistering devices that are no longer used to access enterprise data or applications.
On the IT side, admins must maintain a repository of applications for employee use and keep lists of applications and websites that are allowed and disallowed. They should also conduct reporting and compliance activities, such as generating inventory and software update reports, plus verifying user device registration and authorizations.
In enterprise environments, many of these stages occur frequently, at least after initial installation and deployment. Operations such as reporting and app repository management are ongoing. Employees will continually add and remove devices from use. It is not surprising that MDM is as dynamic a challenge as any in IT operations.
Going beyond BYOD
While mobility in the enterprise is often discussed in terms of MDM, MAM and MIM, BYOD is just one facet of the evolving IT infrastructure landscape. Endpoints now include a range of devices, from desktops and laptops to smartphones and tablets. Data follows devices. What might have been stored on an employee's physical desktop a decade ago is now synchronized and replicated across multiple devices as well as the cloud.
Management practices are evolving too. They are becoming less device-centric and more data-centric. Application security is still important, but any data that can be copied and pasted from one application to another is at risk. We count on individuals to consider the risks of using storage services in the cloud. Although few might expect employees to read and understand the legal ramifications of the agreements many of us readily accept, we all have to exercise caution when sharing documents in cloud-based services.
BYOD is here to stay. Fortunately, we have the tools and practices we need to balance the expectations of employees who use personal devices for work with the needs of enterprises to protect their information assets.
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