Personal Devices Create a Dilemma for Corporate IT - Page 2

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2008-01-12 Print this article Print

And the device that many users are starting to bring into the corporate environment is Apple's iPhone. "A couple of people have iPhones-they walk around like peacocks," said Greg Smith, CIO of the World Wildlife Fund.

That's ruffling the feathers of Smith and other IT executives, who look at the iPhone and don't see a corporate device. "It's not an effective device unless it's fully integrated," Smith said, pointing to traits that are keeping the iPhone on the outside of many large organizations (see related story, Page 36).

The challenge to IT

it is the problem of integrating-and securing-the multifunction device that brings IT squarely into the picture.

Charged with enabling productivity while securing data and keeping costs in line, IT professionals must not only understand the productivity case for a mobile device that is a telephone, an e-mail terminal and a Web browser-and may also be a computer and GPS device-but also find a way to manage it in a manner akin to handling standard office PCs.

Ideally, an IT manager will be able to remotely configure a multifunction device, load software on it, set policies governing passwords, implement encryption and wipe the device clean by remote control should it be lost or stolen.

Companies must also decide whether to forbid certain content-such as personally identifiable information-from ever residing on mobile devices, and then to enforce such policies.

It's a tall order that a number of different vendors-including Research In Motion, Nokia, IBM Tivoli and Microsoft-are addressing to varying degrees. Microsoft, for example, boosted its mobile management capabilities with its System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008, which will be available next quarter. The software features support for Active Directory and offers mobile VPN capabilities, device encryption, and remote device wipe, according to Microsoft.

With many employees using cell phones as much as or more than they use their office phones, some organizations are seeking to tie the two together under a single management system. To that end, vendors are offering technology to link mobile devices to corporate PBXes.

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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