Nokia Ramps Up In-House Device Management Scheme

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Nokia is in the process of implementing a mobile device management (MDM) programme for 25,000 employees using Lumia smartphones

Nokia has confirmed it is rolling out an internal mobile device management (MDM) scheme that covers both company-issued Lumia handsets and employee-owned devices using rival operating systems such as Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.

The MDM programme is centred on Lumia handsets running the relatively new Windows Phone 8 platform, which complicated the development of the scheme, since certain MDM features weren’t yet available for Windows Phone 8, Nokia said.

Customised programme

As a result Nokia worked closely with vendor AirWatch to develop the MDM system, running a pilot for 500 users late last year that is currently being expanded across the company, Nokia said.

While Nokia plans to support non-Nokia devices, the company is focusing on Windows Phone 8-based devices to begin with, and plans to have the MDM client available for all employees with devices running that platform by the end of the current quarter, a Nokia spokesman said. Not all employee-issued phones will be covered by that date, however, since many employees are still using Nokia handsets based on earlier software, the spokesman said.

“The potential audience for this in time will be all employees who have company-provided phones,” he told TechWeekEurope UK.

The programme was earlier reported by industry journal ZDNet.

Nokia HQ Expoo by Majestic via WikipediaAirWatch is a Sandy Springs, Georgia-based MDM specialist with more than 8,000 customers in sectors including retail, financial services, government, education, manufacturing, telecommunications and transportation.

Nokia’s pilot included support for Symbian, iOS and Android and limited support for Windows Phone 7, as well as supporting Windows Phone 8.

The priority for the pilot was email control, with other features including deployment and promotion of enterprise applications, automated re-provisioning, cross-platform actions for groups of devices, and the ability to send information requests or lock/wipe commands to devices.

“The success of the pilot launch was in no small part due to the co-creation and testing of the solution by Nokia and AirWatch,” Nokia stated. “User experience was vital, requiring end-user training videos and clear guidelines.”

Users enrol in the scheme through a mobile application, after which they are able to use enterprise applications such as Mail for Exchange free of complex security procedures, with all security policies deployed without the need for user interaction, Nokia said.

BYOD risks

As a mobile device maker, Nokia is unusual in its ban on employee devices. A recent Ovum survey found that while nearly 70 percent of all smartphone-owning professionals are using their personal device to access corporate data, 80 percent of BYOD activity remains inadequately managed by IT departments, creating security risks.

While Nokia’s MDM project is aimed at managing company-issued devices, most organisations are in the position of having to cope with the proliferation of employee-owned devices at work, Ovum found.

While most companies accept or actively encourage the use of such devices, most are not yet effectively managing BYOD, a situation that creates security risks, according to Ovum.

“The way people work will have a profound effect on how BYOD is rolled out and managed within an organisation,” said Ovum senior analyst Richard Absalom. “As such, it’s imperative that IT departments act quickly to develop and implement clear policies governing BYOD.”

Recent studies from Grudi Associates and Trend Micro have also emphasised the data protection, security and compliance risks involved with BYOD.

The BYOD trend has resulted in growth in the MDM sector, with Dell unveiling a portfolio of BYOD management products last month.

Citrix in December acquired MDM firm Zenprise, looking to create a highly-integrated MDM offering by combining Zenprise’s MDM products with Citrix’s CloudGateway and Me@Work solutions for managing mobile apps and data.

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