As BYOD explodes, IT managers learn to cope

Five tech departments share strategies for coping with BYOD.

Pity the poor IT manager trying to get his arms around the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement.

Even the most cutting-edge tech leaders -- those who are working to make mobile devices secure and productive corporate tools -- are feeling overwhelmed by the frenetic pace of change in the marketplace.

While Apple iOS devices have dominated the landscape, the surging popularity of Android phones and tablets and the emergence of platforms like Windows 8 and BlackBerry 10 promise to open the floodgates to an even wider range of personal devices vying for corporate resources. For IT, that means new and more complicated support and security challenges ahead.

The clock is ticking, says Christian Kane, an enterprise mobility analyst at Forrester Research. "Now is the time to figure out how to embrace [BYOD] by defining a strategy, determining who is eligible and what they have access to, and by becoming familiar with the platforms that can facilitate device management," he says.

Specifically, the pressure is on to devise a solid mobile device management (MDM) strategy, says Kane. At the same time, he acknowledges that tools and policies are still evolving. "This is just the start of a long journey," he says. "It's not as simple as saying, 'We will now allow employees to bring their devices to work and connect.' Requirements will continue to change."

With that uncertainty in mind, here's how five IT departments are mitigating BYOD-related pain points while plotting long-term strategies for mobile device management.

Booz Allen Hamilton:

Policy and Privacy Top Concerns

Organization: Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean, Va. Delivers management, technology and engineering consulting services to government agencies, corporations and nonprofits.

Key numbers: Approximately 25,000 employees; between 12,000 and 16,000 mobile devices in use -- some are corporate-owned and others are employees' personal devices.

Devices supported: It's a multiplatform environment at Booz Allen, which provides mobile devices to a few thousand corporate executives. Those company-issued tools include iPads, iPhones, Android devices and BlackBerries, all of which are managed and supported by the IT department. Other employees may use personal devices for work, but they're primarily on their own when it comes to fixing problems -- unless the issue is something the help desk can address fairly quickly, says Joe Mahaffee, executive vice president and chief information security officer. About 10,000 employees currently use their own devices, he estimates.

How BYOD happened: A year ago, Booz Allen had an informal BYOD program, which made IT leadership uncomfortable. "People were using their own devices in the environment, and we didn't really understand who was connecting and when, and if they were compliant with corporate security policies," says Mahaffee. "We recognized we needed to get out in front of this before a problem did occur."

How it's coping: Booz Allen put corporate policies in place and then deployed an MDM system, according to CIO Kevin Winter, who declined to name the MDM platform.

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