BYOD in universities is still relatively uncommon. One of the main reasons for this is the issue of accountability – defining where the responsibility for securing the data and devices lies. IT staff at a university would traditionally have had a clearly defined remit regarding device management, but this is changing fast.
One key challenge is the cost of BYOD. Another is trying to decide what value BYOD might offer.
Universities in the past have bought both IT hardware and software via the channel, but many are now rethinking their procurement strategy due to their need to implement a variety of new technologies and applications to accommodate BYOD. They may still use channel suppliers, but may pay more attention to the results they can expect from services providers.
Services providers will need to be as flexible and agile as the trends in the market and will need to have a deep understanding of the challenges facing the education sector.
When it comes to BYOD, they will need to define their goal. They must know where the customer wants to end up and take appropriate steps to get to that point. It may take a while to work through all the phases of adoption and implementation of BYOD, but having a plan will make it all much easier.
Consider whether it is feasible to offer BYOD as a service, based on the estimated costs of implementation. You should ask yourself if it makes financial sense for the customer to be offering BYOD to students and staff or whether this will stretch its IT department too far.
Find out what the customer expects, and what the customer's end users expect. Once you know and acknowledge what staff and students are after from BYOD, it will be easier to provide services that accommodate their expectations. Within reason, of course.
Will access be provided via multiple devices? If so, establish where the accountability for the data and the security rests. Is the customer going to allow access to all applications and data, or restrict access that goes beyond the basics?
Users should be clearly informed about their level of access to services, whether it is secure, and that any undesirable behaviour can be traced and stopped. Firewalls and anti-virus obviously play a role and should be implemented before access is granted.
Additionally, end users should be made aware of their responsibility for the way data is handled on their own devices.
Mike Wheeler is head of solutions at Prolinx
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