The BYOD Backlash: Enterprises Search for a New Mobile Device Management Standard

BYOD Mobile Device ManagementIf corporate Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies are intended to be an acceptable compromise between employees and employers, why do both parties seem to be so consistently displeased with them?

Let’s focus on employers, since they have final say as to what devices are permitted to access the corporate network. According to a study by CompTIA, BYOD has reached a breaking point. Fifty-three percent of enterprises now tell CompTIA that they have banned BYOD – up from 34 percent just two years ago.

With that many employers banning BYOD outright, other initiatives have started to fill the vacuum. Believe it or not, some employers are finding themselves reverting back to how they handled mobile device management (MDM) years ago, before the infiltration of consumer devices into the workplace – by issuing work devices to employees.

But what about the conventional wisdom that employees generally balk at corporate mobile technology, which may facilitate more secure remote access, but offers them little choice? As the CompTIA report found, some employees are actually open to using devices provided by the employer, on one condition – “if it is the same thing they would choose on their own.”

What this shows is that even though a majority of businesses have banned BYOD, there’s still an opening for IT departments to provide employees with some degree of choice and flexibility in the mobile devices they use. And this degree of control is not through the physical device, but through the operating system – or rather, systems – that run on the device.

One Device, Two Systems

A container or partition solution is a newer form of mobile device management (MDM) that involves corporate mobile devices being equipped with two distinct operating environments – one that employees can use for work and another for personal use. While the hardware is owned by the employee, the employer only has control over the data in “its half” of the device.

In this environment, the IT department is afforded all the same security benefits and administrative controls that come with deploying corporate devices. At the same time, employees still have some degree of choice in the applications they use, just as they would with a personal mobile device in a traditional BYOD arrangement.

With employers embracing containerization, the mobile device industry is evolving to support these initiatives. As Forrester analyst Ted Schadler told InformationWeek, BlackBerry already supports this form of mobile device management, while Google made progress in the space last year by acquiring Divide, a containerization solution that Google later integrated into its Android for Work enterprise productivity platform.

Containerization is clearly an appealing MDM solution for employers, and it also meets the desire of employees to, as Schadler says, “run personal apps and business apps on the same smartphone or tablet while keeping a hard line between personal data and business data.”

Whether employers deploy traditional BYOD policies or roll out containerization, it’s important they don’t forget why these policies exist in the first place – to secure remote mobile endpoints from malicious attacks. A remote access VPN with central management capabilities allows network administrators to secure any mobile device connected to the corporate network, issue updates as needed and revoke network access in the event of a breach.

These are the security requirements every network administrator demands, and, with containerization now on the table, enterprise network security could take another leap forward.

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