'Multifold' challenges


Large enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises seems to be split on BYOD, according to a recent survey of 578 corporate executives by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO). The survey found that 90 percent of companies with over $1 billion in revenues allow personal mobile devices to access corporate data, but fewer than half of companies with less than $500 million in revenues do so.

No matter how big the organization, corporate executives are uneasy about allowing employees to access strategic planning data through personal mobile devices, with only 28 percent saying it is appropriate.

Chenxi Wang, vice president and principal analyst for security and risk at Forrester Research, observed that enterprise challenges from BYOD are "multifold."

One set of challenges is operational in nature. "Once you give people email access, they want more. They start asking for back-end enterprise applications. This leads to a lot of operational changes to your infrastructure. How do you make traditionally behind-the-firewall applications mobile accessible in a way that is secure enough for personal devices? This is unchartered territory for many firms," Wang told FierceMobileIT.

Joshua Wright, an independent information security analyst and senior instructor at the SANS Institute, said BYOD is an "upside down change for many enterprises." Traditional computers have always been enterprise owned and managed.

"We are losing this control with BYOD devices. Some organizations see this as a big win. They see it as an easy financial decision of allowing employees to bring their own devices, that way they don't have to pay for the devices or the services. What a lot of organizations quickly discover is that BYOD can actually cost more," Wright told FierceMobileIT.

According to a 2012 survey of 250 IT professionals, conducted by security vendor Lieberman Software, two-thirds of respondents believe that BYOD increases costs, due to the added security measures required to lessen those risks.

This added expense is particularly a problem if the organization has regulatory requirements for protecting data, such as in the healthcare field.

"The investment that companies need to make in terms of software on mobile devices is substantial. The complexity and difficulty of managing these devices becomes very costly as well," Wright said.

Phillip Redman, research vice president at Gartner, noted that personal mobile devices were not designed to support enterprise needs. "The introduction of smartphones and data are driving more complex demand for data, not just email, calendar and contacts--but users are looking to do whatever they can do on a PC on these mobile devices," he told FierceMobileIT.

"Many of the capabilities of these enterprise applications were not designed for these small screens or the mobile environment," Redman added.