Top 10 mobile and BYOD stories of 2015

For mobile device management, 2015 was the year enterprise IT fully embraced the trend for bring your own device (BYOD) programmes

While there remains pockets of resistance, it certainly looks like the days of the PC as the corporate standard are well and truly over. In fact, HP's split in November 2015 is evidence that PCs are not considered a differentiator in business anymore.

Instead, organisations are embracing mobile working, mobile-first projects and the security and software frameworks to support this.

There had been plenty of noise coming from Samsung and Apple, both of which have recognised the vast subset of their customers who buy smartphones and tablets for personal use but also need to use their devices for work. Apple’s iOS.9 offers mobile device management and fingerprint recognition for two-factor authentication while Samsung has been pushing the merits of its Knox enterprise mobile management platform, which separates work-related tasks on its smartphones from personal use.

But the most interesting development this year has been Blackberry. Yes, its financial results have been poor, but one must commend its CEO John Chen, who spearheaded the company’s re-invention as a software company and Blackberry’s acquisition of Good Technology, which helps to boost its mobile device management (MDM) footprint, together with supporting Samsung Knox and Apple iOS security within the Blackberry Enterprise Server MDM platform.

Here are Computer Weekly's top 10 article on mobile devices and BYOD:

 1. BES 12 adds Samsung Knox and Apple Enrolment

BlackBerry delivers BES mobile device management to Samsung and Android for Workplace and iOS.

BlackBerry expanded its BES12 Cloud mobile device management product to support Samsung Knox and Apple Device Enrolment. Knox workspace is Samsung’s technology for providing containers in the device that separate to allow any application to run securely in the work side of the device, without the need for application wrapping. BES also supports Android for Work (AfW), which enables platform-level separation of business and personal data, and allows any application to run securely in the work side of the device.

2. Is it time to jump off the Windows bandwagon?

The growth of user power has forced organisations to re-think IT strategies as their employees demand mobility, collaboration and the latest technology. This brings challenges for organisations facing upgrades of traditional systems and choosing the software and hardware to support their teams in the future.

Ian Turfrey, IT director for education body City & Guilds, said the increasing need for flexibility had led many to consider using service-oriented architecture, rather than traditional systems.

“Rather than everything being very monolithic and back-office ERP systems, what we’re now doing is talking about services. What services do we now need to consume?” he said.

Turfrey explained that City & Guilds, which was established 157 years ago, used to run on tightly coupled back-office systems and old-fashioned fixed desktops and telecoms, with SAP systems implemented in the 2000s.

To tackle this and give people what they need, the organisation has moved to a virtual desktop system to allow people to work remotely. Staff hotdesk and have a virtual phone and use presence in a move towards an architecture built on services.

3. Mobile security – what works and what doesn’t?

Experts told the CW500 Security Club how mobility brings new challenges to security departments and an opportunity to go beyond building walls around the enterprise.

Mobile developments across today’s enterprises have put IT security teams at the centre of the business.

These teams are not just building walls to keep things out, but are working close to the business to improve internal efficiency and even help it make sales.

The use of mobile devices has increased the opportunities for businesses in engaging with existing and potential customers. At the same time, businesses are using mobile devices to make their staff more efficient and flexible.

Both these opportunities bring huge challenges for the security teams that are tasked with making mobile work for the business.

4. Justifying computing investments

Device proliferation and loss of control over at least some user equipment drives a need to centralise key aspects of IT delivery.

Device proliferation and loss of control over at least some user equipment drives a need to centralise key aspects of IT delivery to maintain service levels and manage potential costs and risks.

But most IT teams are not fully prepared to deal with these demands, so funding and resources may be needed to strengthen the user computing environment. Fortunately, a range of business drivers are emerging to help build the business case.

5. Mobile device management vs backup

MDM tackles the challenge of mobile devices flooding the enterprise, but it doesn’t mean you can stop worrying about mobile data protection.

Back when desktops ruled the roost, many ran with an agent that acted as a conduit to the IT department's policy engine and ensured that certain functions were carried out properly.

These included software updates, overnight shutdown or sleep, and monitoring user activity, as well as enforcement of security policies. It removed as much control from the user as was compatible with their function and role.

6. Microsoft adds mobile device management to Office 365

Office 365 users will now get a free mobile device management system from Microsoft, as the company fleshes out its mobile strategy

Office 365 users will now get a free mobile device management (MDM) system from Microsoft, as the supplier adds further enterprise features to its mobile strategy. The company has added the mobile device functionality as part of the latest update to its mobile cloud-based Office 365 subscription.

7. BlackBerry buys Good Technology to boost device management

Ailing mobile device firm BlackBerry has made a surprise purchase in a bid to grow its enterprise mobile device management business

BlackBerry is set to boost its mobile device management footprint with the $426m acquisition of mobile security provider Good Technology.

According to BlackBerry, more than 6,200 organisation use Good, including more than half of the Fortune 100 companies – covering all of the commercial banks, aerospace and defence firms, and healthcare, manufacturing and retail businesses on the list.

8. Apple adds home and health access to iOS 8

Apple has unveiled what will be coming up in future iPhone and iPad releases at its Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco

The  iOS 8 operating system – which will power future mobile devices iPads and iPhone – has been revamped, in a bid to keep up with Google and Samsung.

With its eye on the wearables market, Nike+ and the Samsung Smartwatch, Apple has set its sights on expanding the iPhone and the iPad into the internet of things.

9. Microsoft pushes portability of experience with latest Visual Studio

Microsoft focused on making its own applications portable – now it wants Windows developers writing cross-platform.

With just a week to go before Microsoft releases Windows 10, the next version of its desktop operating system (OS), the company has introduced Visual Studio 2015 and .Net 4.6. Soma Somesegar, Microsoft’s corporate vice-president of the developer division, described the next Visual Studio release as "an exciting next step for developer tools from Microsoft".

10. Windows 10 starts shift to platform-independent computing

Gartner expects Windows 10 will become mainstream faster than any previous version. But deploying Microsoft's OS will coincide with a shift in IT.

Many organisations are planning to begin pilots for Windows 10 in the first half of 2016, according to Gartner.

The analyst company predicted IT departments will broaden their deployments in the latter part of the year.

Gartner expected that at least half of organisations will have started some production deployments by the beginning of 2017, with an eye to completing their migrations in 2019, before the end of support deadline for Windows 7 in 2020.

Read more on Tablet computers