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BYOD the main threat to security

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BYOD the main threat to security

The rapid proliferation of consumer mobile devices is changing the traditional IT environment in enterprises, as 90% of enterprises have already deployed mobile devices, with smartphones being most widely deployed, according to a survey by Gartner – and 86% of enterprises surveyed plan to deploy media tablets this year.

Respondents came from organizations with 500 or more employees and an inhouse data centre in the US, the UK, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Russia, India, China and Japan. The survey was conducted in October through November of 2011. It centred on the deployment status of, and plans for mobile device adoption; bring your own device (BYOD) policy; and investment in data centers and adopting technology drivers, including hosted virtual desktop (HVD) for enterprise mobility.

“Healthy growth in smartphone and media tablet shipments over the next five years will enable a much higher level of IT consumerisation than is currently possible,” says Chae-Gi Lee, research director at Gartner. “Enterprises should recognize this and look to ‘mobile enable’ their IT infrastructure for employees to meet the growing demand for mobile device use in the enterprise IT environment.”

A further impact of consumerization is the proliferation of BYOD in enterprises. Gartner’s survey found that many enterprises are allowing personal mobile devices to connect to the enterprise network. BYOD demand was higher in the BRIC countries where more Generation Y (Gen Y) employees are working. With the proliferation of BYOD, there are many security issues for enterprises to consider before they invest in mobile computing. According to the survey, the top issues were “use of privately owned devices” and “deployment of new enterprise mobile platforms.”

Enterprises should focus on mobile data protection (MDP), network access control (NAC), and mobile device management (MDM) tools to support their BYOD and new enterprise mobile platform efforts. These technology factors are essential to establish a standard mobile platform for enterprises.

Many of the enterprises surveyed indicated that they provide technical support for personal devices — 32% of smartphones, 37% of tablets and 44% of laptops. However, the results around technical support varied significantly between regions, with 28% of respondents in non-BRIC countries receiving technical support for connecting personal devices versus 44% in BRIC countries.

“Mature countries consider BYOD programs as bringing with them both legal and technical issues, whereas emerging countries only see technical issues. For instance, mature regions are more concerned with security and data privacy regulations for immature MDM than emerging regions,” says Lee. “In BRIC countries, employee turnover can be high in some sectors, leading to more theft of devices and data. BYOD and virtualization can reduce those enterprise losses.”

Gartner believes that BYOD is an inevitable requirement and recommends that a mobility strategy team should be established as part of the IT department for data management and control. In addition, enterprises should create a BYOD policy for balancing cost control and reimbursement.

In terms of investment areas for enterprise mobility, the survey revealed that non-BRIC countries have achieved much progress in terms of data centre modernisation. As a result, when personal mobile devices are allowed to be used in the network and across data centre infrastructure within the enterprise, businesses from non-BRIC countries indicated that they would need to invest in and improve their architecture in order to allow for the deployment of mobile devices. This is because non-BRIC countries are more interested in security and privacy regulation than BRIC countries.

Investment in HVD adoption is slightly higher in BRIC countries, where 22% of respondents indicated they had already deployed HVDs, against 20% in non-BRIC countries. In terms of companies that have already implemented, are currently implementing or plan to implement HVDs in the next 12 months, 91% of BRIC countries will have transformed their traditional desktop PC client environment to HVD by 2013. In contrast, 67% of respondents in non-BRIC countries said the same.