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Consumerize This: Supporting consumer devices and cloud

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When is it OK to stop worrying about corporate data leakage?

Corporate data leakage is a top concern among many IT pros, but some companies that are in the public eye anyway don't need to worry as much.

When data leaks from your company, that's a bad thing, right?

Jay WesselJay Wessel

The answer depends on the kind of data you're talking about. In companies with a lot of secret information, corporate data leakage can be disastrous. But for organizations that are in the media, such as the Boston Celtics, almost everything is already public knowledge. Plus, the information that isn't shared with the world usually isn't very dangerous.

"The data that employees have access to is like a sales presentation," said Jay Wessel, vice president of technology for the basketball team." So if a salesperson is making a presentation to Coca-Cola or McDonalds, if that gets into the wrong hands, it just isn't that important of a piece of data."

Of course, it's important to protect data that is private, such as scouting data or statistical information, which is why Wessel's team uses Apperian and a private Box setup to distribute certain apps and data. Check out what else Wessel had to say about enabling access to email and apps, and why worries over corporate data leakage don't keep him up at night.

How would you describe your approach to consumerization? Do you ignore it, are you reactive or are you proactive?

Jay Wessel: Generally we're proactive. Unfortunately, sometimes somebody gets something you haven't played with and shows up and says, 'Make this work. Make this do my email, make this get to my desktop,' and then -- depending on who it is -- you're sort of forced into being the old-fashioned IT that always says no. Or if it's somebody important enough, you're not allowed to say no and you have to figure it out real quick. When the iPad 2 came out, Doc [Rivers, former head coach of the Boston Celtics] bought them for the entire coaching staff.

Does your company have a bring your own device (BYOD) or mobile device policy, or is there one in your future?

We just don't have a ton of super-secretive data.

Jay Wessel,
VP of technology, Boston Celtics

Wessel: We don't at the moment have an official policy. We're moving from providing mobile devices and managing them ourselves to the BYOD model, mostly for convenience. We reimburse employees for reasonable costs, but we don't want to keep trying to manage the devices. It became a nightmare with lost phones and broken phones and wanting new phones and changing numbers. So we're really embracing [users] managing devices for themselves.

So what do you do if an employee stores some data that you don't want stored in the cloud? Do you remotely wipe devices or do you not worry about corporate data leakage?

Wessel: When we think there's an issue, we've been known to wipe a device, but we also do try and trust our employees to do the right thing and know what's appropriate use of the data. We have employee policies and nondisclosure agreements around that. And the good news is that we just don't have a ton of super-secretive data. We're such a big brand and so much in the public eye that there's very little the world doesn't know about us anyway. It makes it easier for me because there's just not that much that an average employee has access to that would harm us too much.

Do you let employees use cloud services such as Dropbox, or is there an enterprise service that you use?

Wessel: Both. I do allow Dropbox; I like Dropbox. It may not be the safest thing in the world, but I do like it and it's a really convenient service. But we also have an enterprise agreement with Box and a Celtics-branded Box site that we use for distributing to media outlets. So if we've got footage of some event or a game or something that we want to distribute to TV stations, we use Box.

So you support employees using personal mobile devices for work -- but what does that 'support' entail?

Wessel: We give them access to email through Exchange. We run BlackBerry Enterprise Server for BlackBerrys, although probably not for too much longer. And we support -- upon request -- access to the enterprise apps through Citrix. Most devices will run Citrix Receiver to get access to nonmail apps that people might need. But most people don't need [Receiver], and I'd rather not spend the licensing dollars to have everybody have it.

What tools do you use for managing enterprise mobility besides Citrix?

Wessel: We use the management tools that are in Exchange, which are not expensive but are really adequate. You can control the device, you can wipe it through Exchange, so you don't need too much else for the basics. We run Apperian for our internal apps, which are usually things we've written for the coaching staff and scouts. Those are private apps that we don't really want to be on the App Store or go through the Apple distribution model. Our public-facing stuff is in the Apple store.

Is consumerization positive or negative, and what's the hardest part for your organization to deal with?

Wessel: Definitely it's a positive because the end users actually like their devices as opposed to the hatred that was there before. The more they like their devices, the more they're going to use them and the more productive they're going to be for the company. Consumerization does come with the difficult part, which is the overall management of technologies that weren't meant for corporate America.

This was first published in July 2013

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