Why concern over wearables in enterprise IT shows the pace of consumerisation

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

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Dan Dearing, VP marketing at enterprise mobility provider MobileSpaces, argues the “concern” around wearable devices in the enterprise is a “good indicator” of the rate of change that consumerisation is bringing.

Speaking to Enterprise AppsTech, Dearing argues that there shouldn’t be that much of an issue at the device level.

“It just reinforces the fact that they have to have a solid BYOD policy in place,” he says, adding: “I think the biggest area we’ve seen is what impact it’s going to have on the network itself. That’s when networks get more and more traffic.

“Typically we say that most employees have two to three devices, laptop, smartphone, tablet…wearables is going to become an even bigger multiplier in terms of putting traffic on the corporate network,” he adds.

When we spoke with Stephen Brown, director of product management at LANDesk, about enterprise wearables back in August, his solution was to put devices on a guest network, away from the corporate assets.

It’s an idea Dearing agrees with. “They already have the know-how, it’s a relatively easy project to implement,” he notes.

“Wearables for us is an indicator of what’s coming. It hasn’t been something that is really keeping a lot of our customers up at night, although they obviously want to know what might affect them in 2015 or 2016,” he adds.

What MobileSpaces’ customers have been worried about, however, is being able to use the consumer apps they know and love in an enterprise context. How do they connect those apps to the data centre, to services and apps behind the firewall? What happens if they’ve got apps that want to connect to the cloud, not the data centre?

A lot of MDM vendors don’t offer this. The likes of MobileIron, Good, AirWatch put together a proprietary browser, email client, and so forth. Once you’re in their container, not a lot can get out – security fears prohibit the use of Dropbox, for instance – the most blacklisted app in the enterprise.

MobileSpaces aims to get round that, however, by ‘badging’ apps. “What we’ve done is really create a flexible framework where they can either drive all of their traffic back through the data centre, and then filter traffic to go to the cloud, or they can have secure SSL connectivity to the cloud and VPN connectivity back to the data centre, and then configure that on an app by app basis,” Dearing adds.

The secret sauce for MobileSpaces is its virtualisation technology for Android – adding a virtual layer to provide the best of both worlds for mobile app management (MAM), both third party and operating system-based. Third party MAM – think the AirWatch, MobileIron, Good products – works on all devices but only some apps, while OS-enabled MAM works with all apps but only some devices.

As a result its customer base is relatively wide-ranging; no names of course, but customers include large government agencies, smaller companies in the financial services sector, and a multi-national energy firm.

Dearing admits that, internally, the latest problems companies face with BYOD rollout is codenamed ‘second surgeries.’

“A lot of customers have started a BYOD program with the traditional MDM providers, and then run into a roadblock when they started looking at collaboration and sharing beyond just email,” he says. “The issue there was they wanted to use a lot of the capabilities and services they already have in place for laptops.

“They were finding themselves locked into an ecosystem that didn’t enable them to use things like the Oracle ERP app, or Jabber for collaboration, or a native app for SharePoint,” he adds.

The result is MobileSpaces 3.0, utilising the VPN to provide an “app-agnostic security container”, according to CEO David Goldschlag in the press release.

For a company which puts a lot of emphasis on giving employees a secure yet consumer-friendly BYOD experience, the prevalence of wearable technology is key, although a bit far off.

“I guess it’s just on the horizon for a lot of IT organisations,” Dearing ads. “They’re in the early stages of BYOD in the sense of what apps [they] should make available to users in addition to email.

“I think for them, and for the market in general, the wearables – just the concern around it – is a good indicator of the rate of change that consumerisation is bringing to the organisations,” he adds.

Update: An earlier version of this article erroneously named the Jabber instant messaging app as Java. This has since been fixed.

 

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