Apple itself didn't predict this mass uptake of its products and technology in the Enterprise (Consumerization) but it's happening without Apple's permission or foresight. Apple's products are without question, consumer-oriented. But, they're so good and people love them so much that the impact to the Enterprise can't be ignored. The Appleization of the Enterprise, and businesses of all sizes, is the current trend and companies need to face this trend with open eyes and good tools. Open eyes and good tools don't imply a new type of business dysfunction, quite the contrary, they imply a new way to accept the phenomena without the associated risks.
Perhaps the most compelling argument against bringing your own device (BYOD) is the security risks associated with allowing rogue devices onto your network. There is a risk of allowing any device to have access to your network resources regardless of origin. In other words, corporate-owned devices are no more or less secure than individually-owned ones. That is one of the great myths of the whole consumerization trend.
Part of the overall BYOD dilemma isn't necessarily the ever popular security issues surrounding BYOD but rather the problem of how to manage an array of devices that you could encounter. As much as I'd like to believe that Apple devices are the only ones that individuals will buy for themselves, I know that's not the case. The largest percentage will be Apple but there will also be a number of Windows-based ones, a few Android entries and, if you can read this without retching, Blackberry will also show its ugliness in your midst. You have to be able to accept and manage them all with confidence and grace.
Leaning on conventional technologies won't gain you any ground in the Appleization of your business. You'll have to purchase new mobile device management (MDM) software and other software for managing the innate incompatibility between technologies. Although the Mac OS is now FreeBSD-based, its filetypes and extended permissions create problems when storing files on your Windows-based servers. Fortunately, software exists to handle those file incompatibilities.
Eventually, businesses that allow BYOD will have to come to the realization of user management instead of device management. Device management is the incorrect direction for businesses to focus on. Let the MDM software vendors worry about device support and you worry about user management. That's what you're really managing, the user, not the device. And, that's the way it should be.
Reality, not rose-colored glasses is what you need when you look at BYOD for your company, regardless of size or complexity. I had the pleasure of speaking with Anders Lofgren, GroupLogic's VP Marketing and Product Management, a few days ago on this very subject. His company's software integrates with Active Directory and MDM software products from Good Technology and MobileIron. With GroupLogic's software products, your Apple devices integrate seamlessly and flawlessly with your Windows-based servers and services.
"User management is key to a successful BYOD implementation," said GroupLogic's Anders Lofgren, "You have to manage the user in the same way that you do for other network resources."
Lofgren's words were true food for thought. If you manage the user, you're doing exactly what you've been doing for years. User management, and by extension, group management gives you the same control and power that you're looking for when dealing with user-owned devices. The ability to manage users and their devices, regardless of origin, gives the IT department back the control that they thought they were losing with this whole "BYOD thing."
"Enterprise File Sharing - Solutions that work," goes the GroupLogic tagline but what it implies is greater still. It means that, at least for your Apple devices, you have complete file and access compatibility between those user devices and your Windows servers.
So, really, there are no more legitimate excuses with vendors like GroupLogic, Good Technology and Mobile Iron that provide secure, compatible access for user-owned devices. And, since you're managing the user and group, you don't ever have to physically touch the device to allow or disallow access. Furthermore, using remote wipe services, lost, stolen or dismissed devices won't carry corporate data nor will they even have access to the remote network.
If you're still not convinced that the Appleization of the Enterprise is a wonderful thing, I suggest that you take these products for a test drive and see for yourself. Whether or not you like it, BYOD is happening at your company and it makes sense to manage it rather than to battle it.
Talk back and let me know what you think of the Appleization of the Enterprise. Are you ready for an Apple-centered, more user-oriented workplace? Or, do you plan to kick it old school for another decade or so?