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Come out of the mobile shadows

Mobile phones may have started as a consumer device, but they've quickly become an integral part of the IT infrastructure for all organisations.

Telstra special guest Michael Covington, vice president of product strategy at Wandera -- an enterprise mobile security and data management company. He has been in IT for the past 20 years since he graduated with a PHD in access control modelling. Covington has worked for top IT vendors like Intel, Cisco, and Juniper Networks.

In my previous post in this three-part series, we looked at the consequences of organisations implementing draconian mobile management policies. This comes with great risk, as millennial workers not only want mobile, they want to bring their own device (BYOD). A lot of younger workers choose their workplace depending on the flexibility of policies, especially within the IT department.

Aside from staffing issues, generic or overly restrictive mobile device policies could also push staff into using personal devices to access the corporate network -- otherwise known as shadow IT. Many organisations aren't aware shadow IT is enabled by mobile.

Many organisations set policies for desktop and spend time training people in that area. The problem is that with mobile, for example, if you adopt a cloud mobile service and you've allowed people to have the app on their mobile device, they can access sensitive corporate content when they are in the field or at home.

It's really easy to download content from one cloud storage provider and simply transition it to another. Most environments that we work in give staff the flexibility to install their own apps so it's really easy for an employee to download their own shadow IT tool and use it for transferring or accessing corporate files, or some other activity that hasn't been approved by IT.

Organisations need to start thinking about how to enable mobility while enforcing the right level of control. Many are still locked into the thinking that banning BYOD or not issuing corporate mobile devicesat all is the best foot forward. This mentality comes from the fact that mobile phones started as a consumer technology with employees now bringing mobile into the enterprise without any IT control.

Mobile phones were in use before the enterprise was ready to turn them on and allow access to corporate data. However, we have now come to a point where organisations have accepted mobile and are managing it fairly effectively, at least from a configuration perspective.

The technology and concepts that companies have been buying into for more than a decade has given rise to monitoring and optimising connections from a datacentre to a corporate campus. However,that same mindset hasn't yet transitioned to mobile. One of the problems is that the technology solutions aren't up to par to deal with the realities of a mobile world.

One of the things you have to be really mindful of when you start to get that visibility into mobile data is that you can offer the same insights that they have on cutting edge technology, but they have to also be mindful of performance; how to take traffic in a way that doesn't impact the battery life; or the speed at which the device is rendering a web page.

Rather than being strict about mobile usage, organisations need to figure out how they can manage risk effectivelyso they can keep employeesproductive and connected without exposing the business to unnecessary risk.

This could mean organisations need to start by taking technology policies that are available currently, for mobile device management, and marry them with technology policies that were designed for desktop and server management. This will give them coverage on all endpoints, being managed by a single platform.

My belief is that companies will have to choose what their management plan will consist of and whether it be one vendor globally, so they have one view of all their devices in a single console. Although, I suspect that one vendor won't have all the functionality that they need for that full end-to-end visibility.

This is where Telstra and Wandera have teamed up to wrap a managed service around Wandera's Data Management tools. More and more organisations are finding it challenging to protect, control, report on and manage their fleet's acceptable data consumption.

Find out how Telstra and Wandera can better serve our customers and their challenges by assisting and advising on policy management; securing their end points; and provide deeper business insights. Telstra and Wandera can also provide a breakdown of how their mobile data is being consumed, through visualisation reports.