There’s a corporate killer on the road

16 Jun 2005

“The issues that keep the managing director of an SME awake at night are the very same that keep the CEO of a Fortune 500 company awake at night. Both are thinking about balance sheets and both are worried about security,” opined Carlos Hidalgo, senior manager in charge of the SME market at business management systems firm BMC Software. Hidalgo and his colleague Richard Pegden, senior product manager, were attending the Gartner Midsize Enterprise Summit, which was held in Dublin this year, and attended by more than 140 senior IT managers from across Ireland and the UK.

Hidalgo and Pegden were discussing the increasing complexity of the tapestry of technology spun across the enterprise today. Not only must it take into account networking servers and computers together but it must also bear the brunt of the increasing sophistication of mobile devices carried by executives, such as the BlackBerry and the latest smart phone devices. These devices, CIOs are failing to realise, are becoming as powerful as desktop computers and while the productivity benefits are obvious the risks they carry in terms of opening holes in the corporate firewall need to be highlighted.

Hidalgo explains: “The productivity gains to be made from Wi-Fi and devices like the BlackBerry are enormous and cannot be underestimated. What CIOs are struggling with is the fact that they add another layer of complexity and there’s more to manage from a cost point of view. From a security viewpoint, the more mobile I am as a worker the more open the company is to intrusion.”

According to Hidalgo, aligning IT and security is more critical in a smaller business with a single location than a larger business with multiple locations. “An organisation confined to one place, if IT takes a hit, it could cripple that company. Larger organisations have more backup. I like to use the analogy of a rowboat and a cruise liner. If a rowboat has a hole in it, it sinks. If a cruise liner has a hole, you can seal that compartment and sail on.”

Also at the summit was Gartner senior analyst Monica Basso, who warned that firms that deploy mobile email devices such as the BlackBerry and other services on mobile phones to a small number of workers rather than across the entire organisation are opening their company to bigger security risks.

Says Basso: “If you are opening a part of the firewall in order to access services, that is increasing the level of risk. There are solutions for security threats and CIOs need to underline the security risk and put in place a solution that is appropriate across the entire organisation.

“It’s also about having the wrong attitude. In organisations where only a small group is using a device such as the BlackBerry, these guys are using something that takes email from a corporate account and pushes it on to a public account on a niche device. That is really dangerous because you have data that was encrypted and protected that’s just going out and being published on the net.”

By John Kennedy

Pictured at last week’s Gartner Midsize Enterprise Summit in Dublin were: Richard Pegden, senior product manager BMC, and Carlos Hidalgo, senior manager in charge of the SME market at BMC