iPads run amok: Does your company need a tablet policy?

With tablet mania in full swing, should IT take charge, back off or strike a middle course in trying to control everyone's new favorite gadget?

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All iPads and other mobile devices are centrally provisioned with mail, calendar and other enterprise applications and are "known" to an MDM platform -- specifically, Sybase Afaria from SAP.

Tellabs uses Afaria to enforce end-to-end encryption during transmission, to help with provisioning, and to create a sandbox that keeps work-related applications separate from users' personal apps, which they are allowed to load on their iPads.

Tellabs' mobility strategy will allow it to accommodate other tablets down the road, and to accept employee-owned smartphones, tablets and other gadgets, as long as they are properly secured.

Among what's covered in the Tellabs Global Mobile Device Policy is who is eligible for mobile devices, how expenses related to the devices will be approved, what happens if theft or loss occurs, and who is responsible for technical support. (In general, Tellabs supports devices owned by the company; employee-owned devices are user-supported.)

Bring-your-own iPad? Sure!

Active Interest Media (AIM), a publisher of enthusiast magazines and websites, uses MDM software from Good Technology that enables the company to accommodate employee-owned devices, be they iPads or other tablets, as well as an array of smartphones.

In addition to the user-owned tablets coming into the firm, AIM has just purchased a fleet of 20 iPads it offers to staffers on a loaner basis for travel in lieu of bringing their laptops.

Good's Enterprise iPad App synchronizes Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino email, calendar and contacts and pushes that data out to users as long as they have a username and proper password. It also affords IT granular control over things like apps and corporate data access, according to Nelson Saenz, director of IT at AIM.

"Bring-your-own iPads are treated as any other mobile device, just like a phone would be," Saenz says. Users submit a form that provides consent for installation of the Good app on their device for management purposes, for remote wipe if the device is lost or stolen, and to confirm that they will abide by AIM's usage policies.

If things change, the Good MDM platform can help enforce policies as they evolve. For instance, Saenz says, "from a security standpoint, we haven't felt the need to put stringent restrictions on apps or iTunes access, but if that should change, it can all be done within the Good console."

Keeping ahead of apps

While security concerns are rapidly being addressed, there are other IT issues that remain in flux. As users' requirements move beyond email and calendar access to apps and other corporate tools, IT needs to create a strategy for application delivery.

The options are to load corporate apps on the iTunes store and come up with a solution for secure delivery, or create an internal enterprise app store that IT can manage within the corporate network. Companies also need to determine if and how they will restrict certain apps -- both commercial and corporate -- from being loaded onto corporate tablets.

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