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Enterprise IT reports progress in securing mobile devices

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Securing the files on mobile devices and controlling access from devices to enterprise resources and data remain the most important issues for enterprise IT departments trying to manage mobile devices, according to the annual survey of IT professionals conducted by the Enterprise Device Alliance (www.enterprisedevicealliance.com).

IT managers, constrained by fixed headcounts, are leveraging established solutions such as Microsoft Exchange and Active Directory as well as mobile device management (MDM) solutions to address the challenge of securing mobile devices according to the September 2014 survey.

Along with core control and management, IT departments report more progress establishing and enforcing policies for mobile file management, configuration control, and secure cloud-based solutions. IT management seems to be increasing its control of mobile device issues. Compared to related surveys conducted for the last four years, the respondents report more progress in addressing the security implications of the adoption of mobile devices.

For instance, 73% are using or planning to use Microsoft Active Directory for authenticating mobile devices; 52% are implementing MDM solutions up from 16% in 2011; and 39% are using a mobile file management solution (MFM), mobile content management (MCM), or enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) compared to 14% in 2012.

“By the end of 2014, Enterprise IT seems to have caught up to the tsunami of mobile device adoption in their organizations. It has taken nearly 5 years, but they appear to have selected and substantially deployed solutions overcoming the numerous policy, staffing and budget challenges that delayed their plans,” says T. Reid Lewis, president of the Enterprise Device Alliance. “However, our survey reveals that many IT organizations are still waiting for the tools and expertise to be able to thoroughly complete their plans for securing these devices for enterprises roles.”

Security is still The foreground issue for enterprise mobility. Establishing security had several implications for the respondents in IT. First, only 30% agreed with the statement: “We are unconcerned [about adding mobile devices]. Our management of mobile devices allows us to be comfortable.”

More than 40% of the organizations report that they are constraining the use of mobile devices because of the difficulty of making them compliant with government and industry regulations. Consumer cloud solutions for mobile devices are losing their acceptability to enterprise IT, so organizations are implementing secure enterprise-managed alternative solutions.

While 95% of the organizations report that they allow BYOD, the emerging policy of Corporate Owned Personally Enabled (COPE) devices is beginning to take hold with 20% of the respondents’ organizations implementing a version of that policy.

Comparing responses from 2012 and 2014 reveals that many IT departments have been managing mobile devices for years and many are just getting started. Though they do not expect any increase in IT personnel, the respondents also see the requirements for new investment in management and support of their end users declining meaningfully in all categories except end user apps.

Compared to 2012, fewer respondents report that in 2014 they expect increases in demand for new hardware, software, security and compliance issues, help desk support and related technology and service demands than they have had. In some categories, the decline is especially significant – by more than 15%. This suggests that many have completed the necessary investments and expect to continue to use those solutions to empower their control. Note that in 2014, 15% said they will have fewer IT staff members next year, who will presumably be helped by the increased number of management tools.

While IT is getting more control over management and security, IT professionals continue to see vulnerabilities in significant areas. A particularly telling response: 20% report that users are using unsecure, consumer file storage and sharing solutions with the explanation, “It’s not really acceptable, but we don’t have an alternative.”

Other noteworthy findings of the survey include:

° More than 55% report they now provide a standard configuration of software for their mobile devices.

° Administrators prefer using an MDM solution that is part of an Enterprise suite by a margin of 48% to 28%.

° Many provide access to corporate documents in SharePoint (42%) or file servers (40%).

° More than 70% are using (or expect to use) Microsoft Active Directory for authentication and access control, a level that has remained constant for three years.

° More than a third (36%) require their users to maintain 5 or more business passwords

This fourth annual survey sought to learn how IT administrators are coping with the impact of smartphones and tablets on large organizations. The online survey was conducted from Sept. 4 to Oct. 8, 2014. Respondents are in commercial, government and educational organizations with more than 100 employees. More than 60% of the respondents were from organizations with more than 500 employees.

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