August 29, 2012, 11:46 AM — Anthony Perkins wants employees at BNY Mellon to bring their personal smartphones to work and use those instead of company-issued BlackBerries to access business email, applications and data.
But there's a catch: Not all employees are comfortable with the prospect of having their personal phones locked down and controlled as tightly as the BlackBerries that Perkins would like to phase out. That's where the notion of containerization comes in.
A bring your own device (BYOD) strategy is good business, says Perkins, managing director and CIO at the bank. It reduces the time and expense involved with maintaining and managing company-owned BlackBerries. "We'd like to be in the business of managing software, not hardware. In the RIM world you manage hardware," he says, referring to Research in Motion, the BlackBerry's manufacturer.
On the down side, today's popular mobile devices were developed for the consumer market, and third-party management tools don't have the same management hooks that RIM can offer, since it designed and controls the BlackBerry client architecture and has been especially responsive to the needs of corporate customers.
Managing mobile from the cloud
Mobile device management typically involves installing agent software on each user's device and setting up a server-based management console. Don't want to do it yourself? Service providers that help IT manage mobile devices and software are plentiful.
For example, integrator Vox Mobile offers a "managed mobility" service that includes comprehensive monitoring and reporting, Fiberlink offers MaaS360 for corporate email and documents, and mobile carrier AT&T introduced its cloud-based Toggle mobile management service last year.
With Toggle, AT&T installs a "work container" on each smartphone, which the user logs into with a password. Administrators can then manage container policies by way of a cloud-based portal and app store called Toggle Hub. In the third quarter AT&T plans to add the ability to run antivirus scans on all managed devices, as well as to lock or wipe the container.
"More and more of this will move into the cloud. But today it's still a small percentage," says Phil Redman, an analyst at Gartner.