Game day. Big screen TV. You’ve got your beer. You’ve got your chicken wings. Your friends just showed up and the game is about to start. Your kids are home but that’s ok. They can entertain themselves with their toys and they know the rules. They shouldn’t be a problem for the next few hours.

Welcome to the enterprise a few years ago. Blackberries were the only mobile device supported by IT and they played nice.  They gave us mobile access to our email, calendar, and contacts. They didn’t support 3rd party applications, they completely honored the policies set by the administrator on the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES), and network communications were encrypted. One person had the part-time job of administering these devices – more than enough support for these well-behaved devices.

About an hour into the game and everything is still under control. Then there’s a knock at the door and you tell your kids to see who’s there. After all, you’re busy and in the middle of a big scoring drive. It’s the neighborhood kids…all of them. By the time you realize what’s going on, you’ve got a house full of kids who want to play.  Unfortunately for you, they don’t listen to rules as well as your kids do.

Welcome to the modern enterprise. Androids and iPads just showed up on the doorstep and they have lots of toys. They have big screens, lots of storage, full browsers, and lots of dangerous 3rd party applications. They’re so much fun that they’re here to stay. Users take them everywhere and they contain more information than IT ever imagined. 

The investment in BES only deals with some of the devices on your network. To more completely address the problem, you set up ActiveSync with your Exchange server. As it turns out, ActiveSync only implements 10% of the policies that BES does and most of these new devices only honor some (if any) of them. Of course, more complete device management solutions exist but they’re heavy-weight and expensive. IT doesn’t have a dedicated device administration team to set up and manage these complex solutions. Now, your security officers are having panic attacks as this wave of untrusted devices connect to your enterprise networks and bypass every security control you have in place.

To make the situation worse, users want to use the full power of their new toys. Email, calendar, and contacts are no longer enough. Applications are becoming powerful and diverse. Users can view and edit documents directly. They can access customer details, patient records, or financial information.

So much for watching your game in peace. You’re not prepared to deal with this out-of-control situation.

Stay tuned for part 2 and we’ll share some ideas for stopping those little gremlins and restoring some order.