Feb 6, 2014
If you have to manage mobile devices in your workplace, then you will already know about BYOD, and probably MDM (Mobile Device Management) too (if not, read here). Now here are five more acronyms to confuse the unwary and worry the nervous.
I have covered Bring Your Own Cloud before, but in essence, those mobile devices that people are attaching to your network are already attached to all sorts of other networks — Dropbox, OneDrive (or SkyDrive as it used to be), iCloud and so on. These cloud tools make it trivially easy to do useful things such as sharing a file, backing up your photos and other files, and moving data from one device to another.
If you make it awkward for your users to do the same things in a safe and corporate way, or if you ignore what is going on, they are going to sidestep you — and that way lies trouble. The answer? A combination of user training, formal non-disclosure agreements, data leakage detection tools, and — perhaps most importantly — secure versions of those cloud tools, with all the same capabilities that your users are used to.
Choose Your Own Device is an option for those organizations who know that their users need smartphones, but who really can’t stomach BYOD and the support headaches that a free-for-all can bring. (That’s usually because they are wedded to legacy management approaches where you manage the network end-points rather than the data, but that’s another story.)
CYOD means providing a shortlist of approved and supported devices that users are allowed to connect to corporate apps. There are drawbacks of course — for a start, the shortlist can’t be too short, otherwise you won’t get the increased staff satisfaction that BYOD can bring, and there is always going to be someone who insists on having something not on the list. When companies only supported BlackBerry, the iPhone lovers complained. When they added iPhone support the Android fans complained, and next it will probably be the turn of the Windows Phone zealots to feel excluded. Beyond them are the Firefox-OS fashionistas, the Sailfish loyalists, and probably half a dozen more.
Corporately Owned, Personally Enabled is like CYOD, but the company buys the device. It is an apt name, as the idea is to help the organization ‘cope’ better with mobility by both limiting the range of devices that must be supported and taking ownership of the challenge. COPE is emerging as the most workable mobility model for many organizations, even though it is not really BYOD. Offering them a choice of device makes people happier. It also allows different solutions for different requirements and roles, and it encourages them to look after the devices better.
However, companies will have to ditch outmoded practices such as amortizing IT equipment over three or even five years. In order to stand a chance of matching employee expectations, your COPE inventory will probably need to be turned over every 12 to 18 months. Still, many organizations are not worried about the cost savings of BYOD: they value the control element more highly, as well as the reduction in support complexity.
Typically installed on a file server, with client software on the mobile device, Mobile File Management controls how corporate files are transferred to and stored on the mobile device. It also looks after user access rights, and other features may include remotely wiping a lost or stolen device, pushing files to the device, and integration with the likes of Active Directory. The files transferred are encrypted, using 256-bit AES or similar, so there is no need for a VPN, merely enough WAN bandwidth. It avoids the need to manage mobile devices directly, instead managing the access to information. Examples include Acronis mobilEcho and FileSpirit.
No, not personal computer – Personal Cloud. A business-oriented Personal Cloud must be user-centered not device-centered, because it is all about users being able to use any device, anywhere, to access any of their services, all with as close to a consistent user experience as possible. Achieving this will need a resilient network architecture with WAN optimization in place, plus, most probably, app hosting and some kind of automated control or management. Much of this is still at an early stage of development, via forums such as the PersonalClouds wiki, but there is some interesting code already available, for example Cozy, described by its developers as “a kind of personal Google App Engine”. Some of the unified comms companies, such as Alcatel-Lucent, have also got quite a long way down this path, albeit within their application niches.
On the other hand, there are many companies trying to sell small storage servers by making them Internet-accessible and labeling them as Personal Clouds, or promising to turn your PC into private cloud storage via clever software such as Tonido. It is debatable, though, just how genuinely accessible these approaches are. Sure, your data is no longer tied up on a single end-point device or in a public cloud, but file access is not the same as access to services and applications, and the cloud is more than just storage.