Dimension Data Helps Businesses COPE with BYOD

Recognizing the rapid changes in business communications thanks to the role of the iPhone and iOS devices, Dimension Data launched new endpoint lifecycle management services that aim to simplify the deployment and management of iOS devices for seamless access to corporate apps on Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch.

In addition, Dimension Data is establishing a dedicated Apple practice to help businesses "deliver an anywhere, anytime mobile experience for apps, voice, and collaboration on iOS devices," the press materials state. The global system integrator's new Apple practice will offer a range of services, including consulting, installation, configuration, management, and support for a range of Apple products.

From BYOD to COPE

I spoke with Joe Manuele, group executive of customer experience and collaboration at Dimension Data, to understand the implications of this announcement. He explained that we're seeing a shift from BYOD to COPE (company owned, personally enabled) policies, where enterprises provide corporate-issued mobile devices and laptops that can be managed the way traditional desktop devices have been managed. Rather than letting workers bring in and use any device they want, which introduces huge security risks and compliance issues, workers are increasingly being expected to use the smart phones and devices provided by the enterprise, which gives workers the modern tools they need, while ensuring security and compliance.

"As a result of the smartphone phenomena growing so quickly, and more and more workers using mobile devices for voice, text, email, conferencing, etc., CIOs found that they needed a better way to adequately control the use of these devices," Manuele said. "This is particularly important in regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare, where data sovereignty rules must be followed. CIOs are desperately trying to reign control back," he added.

Dimension Data has been seeing requests from large clients to manage compliance, MACs (moves, adds, changes), and the ability to terminate a user's access if they leave the company.

Gaining Control and Getting Ahead

Dimension Data's endpoint management service and dedicated Apple practice will deliver a range of services, including consulting, implementation, management, and support. Based on its existing relationships, Dimension Data will provide support for a wide range of enterprise solutions, starting with Cisco video and collaboration solutions on iOS, as well as SAP applications. Manuele noted that clients are trying to enable user productivity and control compliance and security, and Dimension Data is getting ahead of this trend by investing time and effort in its relationship with Apple, Cisco, and SAP.

"This is moving faster than people realize. These devices are supercomputers in our pockets. Companies like Cisco and SAP have been developing enterprise-class apps for these devices, and businesses need help managing it all," Manuele said. To this end, Dimension Data will create enterprise-class SLAs that encompass security, compliance, and data sovereignty, as well as lifecycle management to help business get better control of their costs.

"From the Dimension Data perspective, we're seeing a number of large RFPs and RFIs for outsourcing the management of mobile devices. We start with a workshop consultative approach with clients to understand what they're trying to achieve," Manuele explained. "For example, a company may want to review options for moving its PBX to the cloud, while voice capabilities are in various apps on Apple device. We can host the service in our cloud, and design an architecture that's right for that customer. If the customer wants to use Cisco Spark, we will do an assessment to make sure they have the appropriate resources for mobility, such as the right network infrastructure and networking partners. If the customer is focused on security, we'll do a security audit."

What's unique about Dimension Data's approach is its ability to do all of this across its global footprint, Manuele said. "Being part of NTT Group, we have access to the rest of the global NTT company, and bring together unique skillsets. For example, NTT DoCoMo has expertise in mobile wireless that we can leverage."

What Else Is Needed?

I applaud Dimension Data's proactive approach to endpoint management, and see it as a first step to what's needed for most organizations. However, this is just a first step. iOS devices are one part of the equation, and most large enterprises will have a mix of iOS and Android devices, the latter of which are not part of this announcement. To make the service even more valuable, all of the various devices and operating systems used in an organization need to be included.

Dimension Data notes that endpoint management is not restricted to iOS devices, or COPE-only deployments. "While we see a lot of demand for COPE models, most enterprises embrace BYOD, and we offer solutions to bolster those scenarios with our service," Manuele said. "We also support Android and Microsoft with our existing EMaaS (Enterprise Mobility as a Service) offer." Simply put, the Apple relationship will allow Dimension Data to go deeper with iOS than previously possible, he said.

While the initial service will be focused on Apple devices, endpoint management goes beyond Apple, and Dimension Data plans to evolve the service as UCC vendors create more mobile enterprise applications. Expect to see an additional focus on industry-specific devices and application for verticals such as healthcare, financial services, and others.

Dimension Data's endpoint lifecycle management service will be very helpful to many companies, but it's not a panacea. Its success partly relies on individuals doing the right thing and not "going rogue." COPE is a great concept, and I'm seeing more and more enterprises move in this direction, providing a range of sanctioned mobile devices that can be managed and supported by the IT department. However, there will always be individuals who prefer to use their own devices for one reason or another, creating management and security concerns for IT staff.

As the digital workspace becomes every and any place where a worker is connected, Dimension Data is hoping to expand workers' freedom and empower mobile users -- and that's something we can all cope with.

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