UPDATED 15:40 EST / OCTOBER 31 2011

IBM Adopts BYOD Trend with Open Approach, Security

IBM CTO for mobility Bill Bodin revealed some of his company’s plans to adopt the “bring your own device” trend throughout next year. 100,000 employees will be able to connect their iProducts and Android handsets to Big Blue’s network by the end of this year, and another 100,000 will be added to the initiative in 2012; a total of 200,000 employees or half the company’s workforce.

IBM workers will be able to use the device of their choice, as well as the apps of their choice from WhirlWind, the company’s in-house app storefront. They will also be able to access other app stores thanks to what IBM’s Bodin described as sort of trust-based relationship.

Bodin said there’s no automatic app discovery or tracking software to detect if a user is downloading apps that could be seen as objectionable by managers. IBM, however, has long had in place “very aggressive” business conduct guidelines that should govern the behaviors and personal decisions of users when picking apps.

IBM requires every staffer to sign these business conduct guidelines, but this new policy does provide some room for employees to slack off.  Interestingly enough, this has been proven to actually increase productivity by a couple of students at the Academy of Management in Texas.

Adding more user flexibility will naturally introduce more security risks to IBM’s network, which is why its mobile security recently got an upgrade, according to its CTO. Users are still required to use eight-digit alphanumeric passwords to lock their devices, and access company material via password-protected VPNs. This will be extended in the future with things like biometric identification, Bodin said.

The BYOD trend is seeing growing adoption among enterprises, which is why it has been the main topic at this year’s CTIA Enterprise & Applications conference. This is only of the booming trends IBM has ventured into, alongside big data analytics. It may even develop a Hadoop appliance according to Netezza  chief Phil Francisco.

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