The London Borough of Brent is located in the northwest suburbs of London. Formed in 1965 through the merger of two previous jurisdictions, the borough takes its name from the River Brent that flows through it. The borough is home to both Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena, venues for national sporting and cultural events Brent has an estimated population of 311,200 and a land area of 16.7 square miles.
When the number of iPhones and iPads in use started to increase rapidly Brent’s IT leaders wanted to avoid both needlessly locking down borough-issued iOS devices and to allow staff to bring their own iOS devices to the office if they chose to do so. They were looking for a technology that would not hamper user productivity, while providing the necessary security measures.
So the borough decided to use MobileIron to manage its devices. Today, the borough can track its iPads and iPhones and remotely wipe data, but at the same time allow employees to use all of their native device features. As the borough brings hundreds of new iOS devices onto its network, it deploys them quickly and easily with MobileIron—while maintaining the ability to ramp up security as necessary.
In search of reliable mobile security without “lockdown”
Stephan Conaway became CIO of the London Borough of Brent at a time when the borough was first considering providing tablet computers to many of its employees. Like all government agencies in the United Kingdom, the borough was required to implement a security strategy for deploying its devices. But Conaway decided to take a different approach from many of his peers.
“I've never agreed with the 'lockdown' approach, where IT buys expensive mobile devices for employees and then renders them close to useless by imposing needless, rigid security,” Conaway explains. "I wanted to use a 'light-touch' strategy that would focus on supporting user productivity while at the same time maintaining the required security levels.”
With this in mind, the IT Team set out to find a technology platform that would provide not only reliable, proven security features, but also the flexibility to turn these features off and on as needed. They wanted to leave the mobile devices as they were, but also be able to track them in use and remotely wipe data from them if they were lost or stolen.
Open approach to security lets employees use native features
The evaluation process focused on the two leading mobile device management (MDM) solutions that were on the market at the time MobileIron and a competing technology that concentrated on providing a locked and secure envelope for council work.
“The competition secured sensitive data by creating a private envelope device,” says Conaway. “But while a user is in that envelope, they can't use their device-native applications. I felt that was far too restrictive for our workforce. MobileIron's approach was more open and allowed our employees to get much more use out of their devices.”
The borough implemented MobileIron and configured the system to enforce basic security policies on all employee devices. By choice, only a small fraction of MobileIron’s capabilities are in use so far, but the option is always available to turn on more security features as required. “MobileIron worked well right out of the box and is easy to manage,” Conaway says, “It certainly hasn’t created any extra work or issues for our IT staff.”
Deploying the right devices at the right time
With MobileIron, the Borough of Brent has the mobile security foundation it needs to offer borough-issued iOS and Android devices to its mobile workforce. Many employees now use iPads to send and receive email, access and read documents, hold paperless meetings, and take notes in the field.
“Being able to deploy iPads securely has been a huge productivity boost for our staff,” says Conaway. “We had previously tried to have case workers carry laptops around with them, but that wasn’t very convenient. Having MobileIron in place lets us provision the right device for the right person at the right time.”
Thanks to MobileIron's flexible levels of security, the borough's mobile employees can use the full functionality of their iPads and iPhones without restrictions. They simply download MobileIron software before connecting with the borough's network. MobileIron enforces the borough's PIN policies on each device to prevent unauthorized access, and allows IT staff to remotely wipe data from lost or stolen machines.
Based on the early success of its mobile program, the borough now plans to ramp it up significantly. After starting off with 200 iOS devices, the council plans to scale up to several thousand over the coming months. The borough is also replacing many of its BlackBerry devices with new Apple and Android phones.
“As we add hundreds of new mobile devices to our network, MobileIron gives us the peace of mind that we’re not introducing potential problems,” remarks Conaway. “But we always have the option to step up to more stringent levels of security, with the flip of a switch, as required.”
This blend of power and flexibility is what makes MobileIron a winning solution for the Borough of Brent.