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IT groups eschew BYOD, issue company-owned tablets

John Cox | July 13, 2012
After several years of struggling to accommodate personally-owned smartphones, many corporate IT groups are taking the opposite tack with tablets: they're issuing corporate-owned iPads and Android tablets. And partly as a result, at least some are seeing a jump in costs for mobile end user support, redesigned custom applications, and device administration.

"When you move into network and file access in [tablet] apps, you need to worry about much more than you do for email access," says Rich Adduci, CIO at Boston Scientific in Boston. "You're accessing proprietary information, so greater control is a necessity. It's hard to get that [control] in a BYOD environment."

Device management

For Boston Scientific, control comes from an early decision to create a management infrastructure as part of the iPad deployment. The company chose SAP's Sybase Afaria for provisioning mobile devices, and the Sybase Unwired Platform for device management. "We knew we would have a large deployment," Adduci says. "We knew we couldn't do that if we didn't have device provisioning and control in place." At the same time, he's realistic about the current state of the art for device management. "As with any new technology, there will be things missing from it, compared to the much more mature device management capabilities of the desktop.

All four companies are in very different places with regard to managing tablets. The Ottawa Hospital pushed hard to deploy iPads quickly, in order to support a critical computerized physician order-entry project (replacing plans for laptops). Management wasn't a top priority initially, though the hospital eventually adopted MobileIron's mobile device management software. But much tablet administration is still largely manual: when the annual influx of nearly 1,000 residents showed up at the hospital recently, their iPad registration, configuration, and set up required a "small army" of IT staff to do it, Potter says.

"We did it by brute force, stubbornness and hands-on support," says CIO Potter. "Today, I'd caution people to put some thought into this beforehand. You need a mobile strategy to address security and privacy concerns, management issues, et cetera."

Bayada Home Health Care has a skeleton management infrastructure for its nearly 2,500 Android tablets. They continue to rely heavily on their main cellular carrier, T-Mobile for help in deploying the Samsung Galaxy Tabs, and monitoring data plan usage; and on their key software vendor, Homecare Homebase, which accelerated their Android native app development to create a native tablet app with a secure password connection to the Web backend. If tablets are lost or stolen the IT group can "blow up the SIM card," says Andrew Gentile, Bayada's associate director for home health operating policy office.


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