TechEd 2014: Seamless hybrid identity necessary to deter shadow IT's spread

Andrew Kosmadakis, infrastructure consulting at Intergen says some NZ firms get BYOD planning and management right, while others fail miserably

Companies have to learn how to manage how they manage BYOD (bring-your-own-device) elements across their employees if they don’t want the growing spectre of shadow IT taking over.

“Around 60 per cent of all connected devices in organisations are personal ones. We have seen the rise of shadow IT in firms.

"The reasons for that is that people want to bring their personal devices and information together with their work related activities," said Andrew Kosmadakis, infrastructure consulting at Intergen, addressing an audience during a session at Microsoft’s TechEd 2014.

"Companies have to actively merge consumer and corporate environments in order to prevent employees from taking to and bringing in shadow IT in the droves,” he said.

Conducting a session entitled Connected Home, Connected Business, Kosmadakis detailed how IT managers can work to create a single interface that brings together personal and business information, while creating walls between them to ensure privacy and security.

“Companies can protect corporate information and manage risk better by creating separations between personal data and corporate data in devices. They can also enable selective wipe or corporate apps, data, profiles and policies, such that only that data is removed from the device, and the user is still left with all his personal information on his personal device as it was,” said Kosmadakis.

Without referring to any specific solution sets, he stated that companies should have some basic elements in place to enable better control of BYOD elements in the organisation.

“The first and foremost is the hybrid entity. It is crucial that companies make it easy for end-users to access and use their corporate information in the device of their choice. Let them remember their own consumer-level information. But the corporate level has to be kept simple,” Kosmadakis said.

According to Kosmadakis, hybrid identity is about creating one identity and password for the user that can be used for both on-premise, private apps, as well as their online presence.

“We need to take them both and make them one, so that users can have one user ID and one password. That is what we mean by hybrid identity – your on premise and off premise identity and making sure that they work seamlessly.

“When we make it difficult for our users they stop using things. They will find other ways to do it, which is shadow IT. If one ID and password works for all the services and apps that we as the IT admin present to them they will remember that because it is the same they use on the day-to-day basis and it works seamlessly,” said Kosmadakis.

Kosmadakis said the best thing that companies can do is to start planning, look at their online and offline presence, see how these relate to the outside world, consider how users connect to the environment today, and if there is something they are not using now, how that can be corrected for tomorrow.

“In NZ, some companies have done it really well, others have done it horribly. We have worked for the latter and they have asked us to come in and help, and sometimes it is too late. To do this we have to reset and start again.

“Others have done it by the textbooks and the whitepapers and have done an amazing job. It is rather 50-50 now between firms that have done it well and those that haven’t. It is a fine line, but that is just my experience,” he added.

The hybrid entity should be backed by mobile device and application management, access and information protection and desktop virtualisation to fully enable an enterprise strategy for better BYOD.

This year’s Microsoft TechEd conference, which will run for four days in Auckland, brings together IT developers, tinkerers, vendors and partners to discuss the latest developments in Microsoft and its technologies. More than 2000 people are expected to attend the event through the days.