Essential IT Project No. 2: Master your mobile devices
The consumerization of IT is here to stay. The question is, What are you going to do about it?
You have two choices: Resist and kiss your career ambitions good-bye, or embrace it and win the undying respect of the C-suite executives who really want to use their iPads at work, even if they're not entirely sure why.
The project IT pros need to wrap their arms around is the mobile device dilemma: How to manage devices securely, provision them efficiently, and make your bosses happy without compromising the integrity of your network, says Mike Meikle, principal of Hawkthorne Group.
Even if you or your enterprise aren't quite ready to jump with both feet into the realm of mobile device management, you should at least be conversant with all the options available to you, he adds.
"A lot of IT folks will simply say no, they don't want those devices in their environment," says Meikle. "That's not going to fly, especially if this is being driven by executives. If you're approached by senior management about what it will take to integrate these devices into the enterprise and you say they're too risky or that you want to take a wait-and-see approach, you're not going to look so good. Being knowledgeable about what solutions are available will make you look like a pro to the business side of the organization."
If your enterprise is thinking about going BYOD, you'll have to figure out how to securely sandbox those corporate apps and what kind of authentication hoops users will jump through in order to log on, he adds.
You'll also need to take a deep dive in the mobile apps pool. If you have the programming chops to develop mobile apps that align with your business objectives, go for it. But even if you don't, you should be familiar with the apps commonly used in your company's industry, and be provisioning a store of approved apps your business customers can select and install with a click.
If this is such a great idea, why isn't everyone doing it? Transitioning from a legacy mobile device infrastructure (typically BlackBerry) isn't trivial, notes Meikle, especially if you are planning to support multiple mobile platforms.
Until recently, managing iOS devices required a Corporate Apple Developer Certificate, which some organizations -- particularly those in government -- were loath to obtain due to their issues with the terms and conditions of Apple's developer agreement. Meikle says Apple recently relaxed its policies to make it easier to manage devices in the enterprise.
Even so, mobile device management solutions are still relatively immature, and there are few clear-cut choices. "These devices are only a couple of years old, and enterprise IT doesn't typically turn on a dime," he says. "So trying to come up with the right solution can be difficult."