Apple iPhones, iPads Embraced for Napa County's Mobile WorkersBy William Atkinson | Posted 06-03-2011
Napa County, Calif., has 26 different agencies. For years, the county's mobile users operated in a strictly BlackBerry environment. However, growing numbers of employees were beginning to use Apple's iPhones and iPads for their personal needs, despite the fact that they were still required to continue to use BlackBerry devices for work. Many of them wanted to use Apple products exclusively and surrender their county-provided BlackBerry smartphones.
"As a result, we were somewhat pushed into supporting the Apple product line because of our users," says Gary Coverdale, chief information security officer and assistant CIO for the County. "At first, we pushed back because of our inability to support Apple products in terms of security issues. We felt that, if we did try to provide support, there would be a lot of challenges, not only with security, but with our resources to support the devices."
Security was a very important concern, since data on the devices involved sensitive information from many different departments, including police, health and human services, accounting, and so on. It was critical that all of this information be properly secured, notes Coverdale. For example, in the BlackBerry environment, if a device was lost, or if there were any other security breach or potential breach, the county could remotely wipe all of the information from that device.
Despite these concerns, Coverdale says the county realized that employee satisfaction is important, not only for morale, but for productivity. "We didn't want to be a distraction to what the users wanted," says Coverdale. As a result, he began exploring options that would enable the county to accommodate Apple iPhone and iPad users. Eventually, Coverdale turned to Good Technology. He knew of another county that was using the vendor's solutions, and Coverdale says his counterparts in that county were pleased with the solution. "We then did some demos and liked the results," he adds.
Napa County now uses Good Technology's Good for Enterprise solution for iPhone and iPad support. "We didn't have any problems with deployment," says Coverdale. "It was all very easy." And, of course, unlike many other deployments, where employees push back, there was no employee push-back with this deployment; in fact, it was the employees themselves who wanted to move in this direction.
As a result of implementing Good for Enterprise, Napa County can now manage and control protected data that is on the Apple devices, without interfering with the personal information that employees have on their iPhones. "We have a bubble around the data that we need to protect," Coverdale says.
There is another long-term benefit that the county sees, according to Coverdale: Using Apple iPads as replacements for desktop PCs and laptops.
Is the future mobile environment for Napa County likely to keep evolving? Coverdale says some employees already use Android smartphones for personal use, and would like to use them for work applications. "I know that Good technology is a good solution for Androids, too, but, with Androids, there are 20 to 30 different phones and different things we would have to support," says Coverdale. "So, at this point, we are limiting it to Apple products."