|Issue:||North America 2013|
|Topic:||Access in a BYOD world|
|Title:||Chief Executive Officer|
Eran Heyman is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ericom Software, a global provider of access, virtualization and RDP acceleration solutions. With more than 20 years of experience in the software industry, Mr Heyman plays a key role in defining the direction of the company, its product vision and its strategic alliances. Mr Heyman began his career in the Israel Air Force; he has also been a consultant to IBM and DEC.
Eran Heyman holds a degree in Economics and Business Administration from Tel Aviv University, Israel.
The astounding growth of mobile devices throughout the world (by 2015, there will be 7.4 billion) has changed the way businesses operate and their employees work. BYOD has many advantages – and many problems – security, support, costs and resources among them. Browser-based HTML5 solutions, though, can resolve many of the problems. Browser-based solutions need no software installation; they work on any device, reduce costs and support resources and, inherently are relatively secure since no data is stored on the device.
Consumer technology and end-user needs drive the BYOD movement. It has changed the way employees work, which, in turn, has altered the way organizations operate. Business culture as a whole has changed because of the increasing sophistication of mobile devices and seemingly ubiquitous connectivity. Some organizations failed to adopt BYOD policies early on because of logistical concerns related to security, device management, etc., but the steady march of this ‘movement’ will continue for two main reasons:
1. End-user is king – The end-users have driven the BYOD movement – essentially a democratic approach to technology acquisition and adoption – and they will continue to. They are educated on the devices, thanks to Apple, Samsung, Google and the mainstream carriers promoting and rolling out new smartphones and tablets every day. BYOD is here to stay, and organizations best take heed, and plan accordingly (if they haven’t already).
2. BYOD is better – Despite certain challenges that BYOD presents, it has ushered in a new era of flexibility and efficiency that far outweighs the short-term logistical issues. The modern business does not confine operations to traditional ‘9 to 5’ shifts. One major challenge that BYOD presents is enabling remote access to critical resources. Fortunately, the development and widespread adoption of HTML5 has paved the way for innovative remote access solutions that enable users to tap into those resources, such as Windows desktops and applications, from anywhere and on any device. This applies not only to businesses, but all kinds of organizations, including healthcare and education institutions, as well as partners and contractors.
BYOD’s roots lie in the evolution of mobile devices. The advent of Internet connectivity on cell phones paved the way for ‘PC in your pocket’ functionality, which, in turn, gave birth to the BlackBerry – the executive mobile phone of choice for much of the late 1990s and 2000s. BlackBerry dominated the mobile market for a while, but its success was limited almost exclusively to a business context.
Rise of the smartphone
It wasn’t until smartphones, whose domain up until that point had been the consumer market, began infiltrating business culture that the BYOD trend began to take hold. When the iPhone launched in June 2007, for instance, it was not a legitimate threat to the BlackBerry’s near monopoly of business communications. Nevertheless, as the iPhone became easier to sync with IT networks and mobile Internet connectivity improved, the BlackBerry’s corporate email functionality superiority became less of an issue.
A raft of competing smartphones eventually emerged, spawning a variety of Android devices, and it became increasingly more common for personal devices to be integrated into organizations’ networks.
Mobile adoption is still on the rise and shows no signs of slowing. In the third quarter of 2012 alone, Apple shipped a record 17 million iPads, which represents an 84 per cent year-over-year growth. By 2015, there will be 7.4 billion mobile devices; another 1.2 billion smartphones will be added over the next five years, according to ABI Research.
This growth also increased the variety and volume of mobile devices, especially smartphones and tablets and today employees are increasingly bringing their personal devices into the workplace. According to a recent Enterasys survey, 74 per cent of companies allow for some level of BYOD usage and IT departments all over are struggling to address the challenges BYOD growth brings.
• Security – Personal devices that are connected to networks present vulnerabilities and are more difficult to secure than those that operate exclusively within the firewall.
• Compliance – For organizations that must meet federal or other regulations and standards, such as HIPAA in healthcare, compliance can be a challenge given the variety of devices operating inside and outside of the firewall.
• Management – IT departments find it challenging to manage a variety of devices, instead of a standard-issued device that can come preloaded with the necessary software and other necessary native clients. Each device must be provisioned with the relevant software – antivirus, connection broker software, etc. Every time, there is an organization-wide update, IT must roll out the updates to a wide variety of devices – a daunting task.
• Support – BYOD creates a tremendous help desk support load; support staff that prefer ‘locked down’ configurations are forced to address a range of user problems for a variety of endpoint devices.
• Staff Resources – Managing all of these devices is time-consuming, stretching the already taxed resources of today’s IT departments.
• Expenses – Time is money. The time IT personnel spend provisioning, supporting, updating, ensuring compliance and securing all of these new devices can be quite costly.
Thin client devices
In addition to the challenges that mobile devices present, thin or zero-client devices like Google’s Chromebook present other connectivity challenges. The intent behind thin or zero-client devices is to provide stripped-down versions of a laptop that represent budget-friendly options for enterprises and organizations. But they, too, present challenges since connecting to certain resources, such as remote or virtual desktops and applications, requires native clients and, optionally, connection brokers, secure gateways, etc., which Chromebooks, for instance, cannot support.
HTML5 remote access solutions
HTML5 technology enables ‘zero-client’ Web access to desktops and applications. HTML5-based remote access addresses the fundamental challenge of remote access to critical resources and the associated issues:
• No downloads required – When utilizing an HTML5-based solution, there is no need to install software on the endpoint device in order to remotely access desktops and applications. All you need is an HTML5-compliant browser.
• Simplified deployment – When using an HTML5-based solution, software updates are virtually automatic. This eliminates the need to roll out updates for a network of devices, which takes a toll on an organization’s IT department. It’s easy to embed browser-based software into corporate portals by adding a link or a frame.
• Simplified networking – SSL VPNs (secure virtual private networks) based on the Secure Sockets Layer protocol can be used with both native clients and Web-based software. Web access is easy and automatic, whereas opening up communication channels to many devices can be quite an undertaking, requiring a lot of support.
• Device agnostic – Most browsers and many devices already support HTML5, and as it continues to mature, companies that utilize an HTML5 solution won’t have to bother with writing or purchasing new clients for every new device. With browsers, access from anywhere and on any device is possible.
• It department relief – HTML5 solutions reduce hardware and mobile costs by leveraging both employee-owned devices and IT technologies, thus reducing investments in computing infrastructure.
• Security – Since no information is stored on the browser, if a device is lost or stolen data is not compromised.
Although BYOD policies present challenges, they offer some real benefits –
• Productivity – Using one device as opposed to several is more efficient. Furthermore, users tend to be more proficient with devices with which they are familiar.
• Cost Savings – As technology rapidly evolves, re-equipping employees with devices can be an expensive proposition. Nevertheless, the savings will only accrue to organizations with solutions, see above, that ease the pains associated with provisioning and supporting BYOD.
• Flexibility – The ability to work from the office, home or on the road gives an unprecedented degree of flexibility and tends to maximize employee output and improve customer service and efficiency.
The BYOD outlook
Mobility and BYOD initiatives are changing every aspect of business; their success is propagating their growing use in organizations and industries of every type. The emergence of smartphones and tablets is also driving the need for new technologies to help IT departments manage BYOD deployments, balancing flexibility and accessibility with security and control.
BYOD provides new opportunities for organizations to innovate, achieve efficiencies and respond more rapidly to the changing needs of their customers. Most importantly, BYOD is changing the culture and workflow of organizations, the ways people work in and outside of the office.