The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries, caring for over 150 million items. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection.
With a global reputation for making the most accurate and in-depth research available to the largest number of users to uphold, and policies that champion flexible working, The British Library is committed to utilising technology to improve productivity. The British Library is a part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport - the department responsible for the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games - and as such is required to comply with UK Central Government data security policies.
Leading the team tasked with balancing the demand for increased productivity through mobility on personally owned devices, and maintaining data security, is Mark Dawson, Desktop Services Manager.
"We are all about enabling, not controlling," says Dawson.
Previously, the British Library provided BlackBerry devices to those employees identified as needing a mobile device as part of their responsibilities. These devices were used primarily to access email, calendar and contacts. However, because of the organization's commitment to being a flexible workplace, in 2011 the decision was taken to extend the benefit of mobile PIM access to a broader internal audience.
"An additional driving force was that we had staff join The British Library from other organisations where it was acceptable that they use the device of their choice. As an IT Department, we wanted to stop saying no, we are all about enabling, not controlling," explained Dawson. "Our staff wanted to use their own smartphones to see email and calendars, to know what they're meant to be doing and where they were meant to be."
The British Library was already running Citrix BlackBerry monitoring software, and after reviewing a number of analyst reports and the alternative vendors, decided to extend the relationship to the full Citrix product suite, including mobile device management software that supports multiple devices, including Apple iOS, Google Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile.
Dawson and his team chose XenMobile MDM for its MDM deployment largely due to the cross-platform support and comprehensive yet straightforward monitoring and data management.
To kick-start the project, Dawson's team engaged Citrix professional services who implemented the system and deployed a baseline configuration. Dawson commented "the Citrix Professional Services team accelerated the installation and initial configuration, helping us achieve a successful deployment... faster."
In late 2011, The British Library initiated a Proof of Concept, starting within the IT department. This was done to ensure they could deliver strong support as later needed because, as Dawson put it "One of the big issues with personal devices is that you don't know what the user has on them, and how they've got them configured."
The internal phase was then extended with an invitation to all staff to join. Dawson and the IT team reviewed the applicant list to get broad spectrum of skill sets, roles and devices. Subsequently additional candidates were selected, with a mix of devices to match the current high street mix of predominantly Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.
Understanding that the devices are highly capable but personally owned, The British Library wanted to keep management simple. "We know it's not our device, we are just making sure it's secured and managed so they can have reliable access to their emails."
Users were required to agree to an acceptable usage policy that not only established the ground rules, but also offered best practice support around data storage, loss procedures and reducing unexpected data usage costs. Dawson and his team also created some simple documentation about getting started, but "Most users have been fairly self-sufficient with the install. During the deployment an application upgrade from the iTunes and Android Marketplace and happened automatically without interruption to service for users who installed the update. After the deployment we asked for feedback and no one experienced any problems. It was all positive all around."
By implementing Citrix MDM software to control user-owned devices and report on its policy compliance, the organization was able to embrace personally-owned devices. "Otherwise, we would have had to deny mobile access for those employees who didn't qualify for the corporate BlackBerrys," says Dawson.... "Instead of being perceived as draconian, we have been able to bring a really useful program to our users. People are praising the IT Department." While Dawson and his team are certainly saving time and effort, they are also finding more value has come from the soft benefits and positive feedback as people come to work happier, prepared for their day ahead. "Basically, we've enabled it so that people can work more effectively."
Throughout the entire process, and during the path ahead, The British Library has maintained its security compliance and ultimately expects to reduce its fleet of corporate-issued devices. End-to-end security is critical, so that should a device be mislaid or stolen, "it's a technology loss, not a data loss" and the Library's reputation - and just as importantly, any sensitive data remains intact.
Looking forward, The British Library expects to add levels of differentiation to its user base, enabled by the easy group management of XenMobile MDM. Dawson and his team are looking forward to using XenMobile MDM to support them as they open more corporate applications and information beyond secured PIM. With an increase in tablet adoption – both corporate-issued and personally-owned, The British Library is assessing how employees are currently and wanting to use them, in order to evaluate how best to make other internal information available.
Fears that the IT Department would struggle to support the various users and their unique configurations, and the potentially hundreds of support calls, were unfounded. As Dawson summarised: "The deployment has gone better than we expected. The application has just worked, has just installed on the devices, and just done what it's supposed to do... enabling our users to access their information, on the device of their choice, in a secure fashion."
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