A Single Source of Information

By Nick Wreden Print this article Print

You can’t stem the tide of worker-owned devices, so learn how to deal with it.

So Merit turned to an online learning system from eLeaP for product training, along with Google Docs and other offerings from Google’s online suite of products, to ensure access to a single source for the latest information. 

“So far, so good,” says Cannon, but then challenges arose. Sales reps didn’t like using multiple log-ons and passwords to access the applications; the IT team didn’t like the constant provisioning and deprovisioning of user accounts as responsibilities changed or the composition of the sales force evolved.

To resolve these issues, the company turned to Symplified Suite with the Mobile Edition. The application integrated with Microsoft Active Directory, combining ease of rules-based provisioning with an authentication intercept that enabled single sign-on (SSO). “That solved the issue of tying together our existing system with SaaS [software as a service] and cloud applications,” says Cannon. Users can now log onto their mobile device—which includes Apple iPads—and see authorized applications, which can be in the cloud or on the server.

The hybrid cloud- and server-based solution benefits staff, distributors and, soon, customers. In 30 minutes, Merit built an online “sales store,” where staff can order brochures and promotional material. Securely adding apps takes only minutes. Logging into CRM capabilities from Salesforce.com opens the door to all other authorized applications. About 100 distributors worldwide can access relevant applications, and Merit plans to enable customers to access their accounts in 2012.

Cannon emphasizes the ease of MDM set-up and access, which throttles back provisioning and similar demands on the IT staff. This has reduced friction between IT and sales and marketing over project priorities. “The flexibility and ease of something that is relatively inexpensive results in one less thing to worry about,” he says.

Wireless Wild West

Marquette, a Milwaukee, Wis., Jesuit university with about 12,000 students, was transformed into a wireless Wild West by the growing popularity of mobile devices. According to security analyst Justin Webb, the proliferation of wireless devices presented three issues. The first was visibility: Managing the spectrum of wired, wireless and mobile devices required knowledge about numbers and usage.

Security was the second issue, as the university had to meet both its own and legal requirements for security, while avoiding onerous requirements that might discourage students from academic exploration. Third, both students and staff were purchasing mobile devices rate, which Webb called a tipping point for a reevaluation of security, management and even the future of the university’s network.

Network visibility delivered eye-opening insights. A ForeScout Technologies solution mapped about 7,000 wireless clients, a number that has increased every year since the rollout of the wireless network. The number of mobile devices totaled about 15 percent of network nodes. Wired network traffic is declining, while the ever-increasing number of wireless devices and increasing bandwidth usage are driving the university to consider purchasing additional IPv6 addresses.

Marquette developed a two-tiered system for security. Students are required to use a four-digit log-on password, while university-owned devices incorporate both a log-on and password. Off-campus access is via a VPN. Microsoft Exchange can execute a remote wipe if university devices are lost or stolen.

The ForeScout solution monitors the network to see if traffic veers into no-trespassing areas on servers. Auto-remediation walls off the errant device and directs violators to install antivirus software.

“The benefits include less time spent monitoring traffic for forbidden behavior,” says Webb. “And it’s improved the relationship between those responsible for security and those handling the networks, since our routers and switches don’t have to be reconfigured to deal with various security issues. And it’s all transparent to users.”

Finally, the marriage of high-speed wireless networks and widespread availability of mobile devices is causing Webb to muse about eventually eliminating wired networks in the dorm.

This article was originally published on 2011-12-06
Nick Wreden is a writer and marketing specialist in business and technology.
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.