Will the launch of the Apple iPad 2 encourage businesses to embrace consumerisation?

Opinion by Dan Raywood

Last night's launch of the second version of the Apple iPad is sure to get some people excited, but for IT managers it is another step in the direction of consumerisation.

Last night's launch of the second version of the Apple iPad is sure to get some people excited, but for IT managers it is another step in the direction of consumerisation.

At the end of last year I looked at how consumerisation was going to be a challenge for IT managers and from recent evidence, it seems as though that it will continue to be the greatest problem for them this year.

The iPad 2 will be available from Friday 11th March, marking only 11 months since its predecessor was launched. It is just under 5mm smaller (from 13.4mm to 8.8mm) and was compared by TechCrunch to ‘feeling a bit like holding a Kindle'. It also maintains a ten-hour battery life, has rear and front facing cameras to allow FaceTime conversations and has an A5 dual core processor.

In a surprise appearance, Apple CEO Steve Jobs appeared at the launch in a first major public appearance since he took time out due to ill health. His closing remark was that the iPad is more than a PC. He said: “These are post-PC devices that need to be even easier to use than a PC.”

So in Apple's eyes, the iPad is some sort of post-modern PC. It could be argued that the iPad had become a byword for consumerisation, the point at which personal devices were being used for work and often, without the approval or knowledge of the IT team.

Writing for SC Magazine last year, Ian Aitchison, technology director at LANDesk, said: “Apple iPads, Android phones, tablets and other similar devices open the door to increased and easier access to the internet and the ever expanding suite of applications that are downloaded to them. This increases the risk of viruses onto the network.”

That is one problem with the increased consumerisation. Adam Powers, CTO of Lancope, pointed out that with ‘borderless networking', these devices are ‘now putting holes into the corporate network and making it more porous'. He said: “It is an unstoppable force and you have to work with demands of your staff, so a security analyst will have to figure out how to deal with it.”

Talking to SC Magazine recently, Sam Curry, chief technology officer, marketing at RSA, said that there are two sides to consumerisation: how an enterprise deals with it and how the consumer deals with it.

“If an enterprise deals with it then it is about application and data, on the consumer side it is about if they can do it, what they want to use and how it performs,” he said.

“In terms of whether to embrace or resist, companies have worried about problems and have indicated that they want to manage it. In October I had a meeting with a CISO and I asked how many users are using Android and all but two were allowed to use that platform. These devices and operating systems are coming out at an alarming rate and the demand is there from the user. It is much more diverse, it is a changing landscape, but also a changing bad guy landscape.”

I asked Michael Gabriel, director of the data protection practice at Integralis, what his experience had been in terms of reactions to consumerisation.

He said that IT manager reactions had been interesting in general, as a lot of IT management say that they should not allow unauthorised, personal devices and they are overwhelmed by the scope of the problem.

He said: “There is a realisation that information has now left the perimeter of the company and can proliferate without an audit trail. When it sinks in, many are overwhelmed at the sheer scale of the problem and mobile devices are the key part of that.

“You have to use technology to create borders. It is a trade off with personal devices, data loss prevention is good at creating borders and not allowing data to be in certain places but if now you allow it you have to protect it. You need to push out policy to make sure there is still a secure perimeter and need to change that and eventually keep the information where it needs to be.

“Until we solve the unstructured data problem, we are treating the symptoms but not the disease. Until we solve the core problem things will not make a difference.”

As next Friday approaches there may not be the same sense of dread from the IT department, as many may have the capability to provide for Apple iPad and other tablet devices and this may be just a new extension. However with other tablet devices on the horizon and no end in sight to consumer demand for modern devices, it is no time to bury your head in the sand.


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