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Consumerize This: Supporting consumer devices and cloud

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Consumer file-sharing platforms guilty of disturbing the peace

One law firm was forced to choose a file-sharing platform when lawyers started accessing Dropbox for work.

Should IT let users access consumer file-sharing platforms for work? The jury's still out on that one, but more companies are turning to enterprise services to appease their employees.

You would be hard-pressed to find a user today who hasn't accessed a consumer-grade cloud service for file sharing or collaboration -- and sometimes they're sharing corporate documents. If you prevent users from accessing the services they want, you must find another way to provide file sharing, said Cesar Mejias, CIO at Garrigues, a large global law firm based in Spain. The firm recently considered a few different file-sharing platforms to help its lawyers exchange large files with their clients.

In this Q&A, Mejias explains how the firm gives a lot of freedom to BYOD users and why IT needs to embrace consumerization.

Cesar MejiasCesar Mejias

Do you think the consumerization of the enterprise is a positive or a negative?

Cesar Mejias: My point of view is quite positive. Some of [my colleagues] think that it's a nightmare. And it is a nightmare, but you have to handle it. You cannot go against the stream. It would be quite difficult for us to say 'no' to every user and stop them from using their phones or tablets for their daily business.

So about two years ago we started looking at different solutions and finally decided to go for Zenprise. They were bought by Citrix about a year ago; now it's in XenMobile. We allow our users to use their own tablets or smartphones, and I think that's a good thing for us. … We don't allow workers to use their own computers in our offices, but we allow them to use their own laptops at home, through a Juniper VPN. We are more or less comfortable from the security point of view. I think that our users are also happy when we allow them to use their own Mac or their own iPad or whatever they want to use.

How would you describe your approach to securing and supporting those BYOD devices?

Mejias: It's not very intrusive for [the users]. They must enroll their devices in our Citrix infrastructure, following a quite simple procedure, and by doing that they get access to corporate email, and we can take control of their devices. If they remove the Citrix agent, corporate email profiles are automatically removed from their smartphones or tablets. Apart from that, we allow them to use the apps they want. We are not very restrictive in the use of their own tablets, etc. We have the same policies for all the devices. They have to be encrypted, they have to have a secure password.

Do you have a written BYOD policy, and how else do you educate your users?

Mejias: We have a policy that, when [users] enroll a new device in our system, they have to accept our terms and conditions -- a list of things that they can do and cannot do. Apart from that, we also have some courses to help them, and also some specific apps that they can use with training that they can read or listen to.

Your company recently adopted Workshare. What problems were you having with consumer file-sharing services coming into the organization?

Mejias: Our biggest problem is that we have a lot of people trying to use Dropbox, Box, Google Docs or other services, because our clients try to send big files in these types of services. All of them are restricted in our network, we prevent users from accessing them, and that's why we needed to find a solution to exchange specific files with our clients.

We looked at different solutions like ShareFile from Citrix, Dropbox for Business and others, and we finally decided to go for Workshare because we have a very long relationship with Workshare. Around 10 years ago we started using one of their products -- it was called DeltaView -- to compare Word documents. So we tested the solution and we found that it covered all our requirements and we went for it.

Are there any other problem areas you need to work on?

Mejias: You always have to be looking at everything, because the risks are important, especially in our industry. You have to be alert every day. It's more or less covered with the solutions we currently use, but we cannot be resigned with this.

This was first published in May 2014

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