Amtel CEO PJ Gupta: Geofencing key for BYOD in education
In the latest of a series on BYOD for education, Enterprise AppsTech talks to PJ Gupta, the CEO of device management and telecom expense management Amtel, on the cloud, keeping networks safe and geofencing
Plenty of column inches of late have been dedicated to incorporating bring your own device into the education sector. The benefits, on first glance, appear insurmountable; more interactive learning, more productive students, fewer bulky textbooks to carry around.
It represents a huge change in mentality for the school system. As Phil Scrivano, CTO of Las Virgenes Unified School District hinted at in a recent Bradford Networks paper, many schools are still in the mindset of confiscating smartphones, not rolling them out.
Alas, if only it were that simple. The school’s IT staff will have headache after headache attempting to manage different types of devices with differing specs, and the network capacity will need to be rigorously examined and seriously tested.
According to PJ Gupta, CEO of device management provider Amtel, the cloud is inevitably the way to go with this development.
“I think the cloud has got a lot of flexibility,” Gupta explained in a call. “It’s brought expenses down significantly for the education sector to actually start implementing [their] MDM or security policy.
“Rather [cloud] than buying big servers, and configuring them, and having a focus on staff who can update them, because mobility is changing everything. With the cloud, it’s made it very easy.”
This evidently plays into Amtel’s strengths, joining many other companies who offer an ‘as-a-service’ solution.
“For a few bucks, you get a service now,” explained Gupta. “We take care of all the updates and changes, we also provide customer support to educational institutions.
“For them, the cost to implement a solution is very affordable – we have seen clients who can bring up 500-1000 devices in one day.”
But there are problems from the end user perspective. Trusting users – particularly students – not to play on games, or access certain apps, would normally end in disaster.
Gupta is an advocate of geofencing devices to solve that issue. “Now you can push profiles that if the device is in a certain address zone, the games would automatically stop,” he notes.
As research from Fiberlink examined earlier this month, institutions still favour the practice of blacklisting apps, with Dropbox, perhaps unsurprisingly, make the top of the banned list.
Gupta’s view is that you shouldn’t stop it outright – but protect yourself in more sophisticated ways, saying: “It’s hard to stop users from bringing different apps. Let them bring in Dropbox, or Box, or Skydrive and Google Drive. Let them do it.
“But if it’s corporate or education sector, if you want to protect your data, you containerise that. We can push from a console, and the data gets containerised on the device within an Amtel container, and I can selectively tell the device whether the data needs to be open only in my container.”
But what if there is a special app which requires access by the school?
“We’re not a completely closed system,” Gupta explains. “We provide the flexibility and that customisation, so the organisation can choose which profiles, which device groups can access the data for external apps, and you can even mention which external apps can access the data to this system.”
What’s your view on BYOD in education? Do you agree with Gupta’s analysis?
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