The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has upgraded its mobile fleet to BlackBerry 10 while allowing other devices under a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scheme managed by BES10, the BlackBerry mobile device management (MDM) software.
The ANAO’s CIO Gary Pettigrove told CIO Australia that BES10 provided a more secure and user-friendly interface than competitor MDMs.
“We’re a very secure agency [and] we’re a classified network so we can only allow certain devices to connect. That security layer is very, very important us,” he said.
“Here we just have one management console and it doesn’t matter what device you have at the other end. It’s a real bring your own device type arrangement.”
BlackBerry announced two new BlackBerry 10 customers in Australia today, including the ANAO and Questas, a professional services company. The wins follow losses of large customers like Qantas and Woolworths to Apple, and competitor MDM providers including AirWatch have been gunning for BlackBerry customers.
The ANAO is a federal government agency that reports directly to the Parliament and does financial statement audits of every government body that receives Commonwealth funding. The agency has 350 staff and had previously deployed BlackBerry 5 devices for 35 senior executives.
The office now is expanding mobility beyond senior executives and will provide devices for all of its travelling employees, Pettigrove said. He estimated that about 86 per cent of staff is now mobile. The ANAO is also doing BYOD so that employees can buy their own phone or tablet for work, he said.
The ANAO implemented BES10 just before Christmas following a pilot that started in November. Since then, the office has rolled out 40 BlackBerry 10 handsets, including the Z30 and Z10 models, Pettigrove said. In addition, the MDM is managing 12 Apple iPhones and 12 iPads, as well as about five Android devices, he said.
An upcoming hardware refresh in the next six months will see more mobile devices come into the ANAO, said Pettigrove.
“Instead of giving everyone a laptop, we’re looking at virtual desktops and an iPad or some other BlackBerry or iPhone device so they can do their work while they travel.”
User demand convinced Pettigrove to upgrade from BlackBerry 5 to BlackBerry 10, the CIO said. “The old BlackBerry handsets were forced upon our senior executives as the only secure solution that [the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD)] approved.”
When staff saw a demonstration of the more modern BlackBerry 10 handsets they immediately wanted to ditch the older models, he said. “BlackBerry 10 is the only way to go. You’d never go with 5—it’s so clunky and horrible.”
However, some staff said they preferred iPhone and Android to BlackBerry, so the ANAO decided to support them as well, Pettigrove said.
Android has posed more difficulties supporting than the other platforms, but BlackBerry has provided support and the ANAO has not required employees to choose a specific device or set of devices, he said. “We’re willing to look at anything but we can’t promise they’ll work.”
Pettigrove said the ANAO considered other MDMs including by AirWatch and Good Technology. But the Good service was not sufficiently user friendly and AirWatch did not have DSD accreditation.
In addition, BlackBerry saved the ANAO money by offering refunds for their old BlackBerry 5 devices, he said.
Following the BES10 rollout, a survey of staff revealed that user satisfaction increased 15 per cent, said Pettigrove. Users particularly like the ability to use a single device for work and play, he said.
Momentum for BlackBerry?
Questas, the other new customer announced today, also cited security as a major reason for choosing BlackBerry.
“Questas provides centralised corporate services for a diverse network of sites all over Australia, so the ability to configure and secure our mobile devices remotely is essential for our ICT strategy,” Questas CIO Ferdinando Cosentino said in a statement.
“We looked into other mobile providers, however we found BlackBerry provided the level of security our business needs at both the device and network level, and is able to optimally satisfy our mobile requirements, while catering for other platforms as well.”
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While BlackBerry has suffered customer losses as it seeks to revamp its business, the vendor said today that about 65 per cent of its customer base in Australia has either migrated to or are trialling BES10 since its launch.
In addition, the vendor flagged a Telsyte report released today found that BlackBerry is the most implemented MDM in Australia followed by AirWatch, MobileIron, Good Technology and SAP.
“While we continue to win the trust of Australian government departments, we are also seeing significant traction in other regulated and private industries that want to enable workforce mobility with multiple devices, while maintaining company IP and data is protected and secure,” said Matthew Ball, BlackBerry managing director for ANZ.
For its Australian Enterprise Mobility Market Study 2014, Telsyte surveyed 460 CIOs and ICT decision makers on their organisation’s approach to BYOD and bring your own application.
The study found that 44 per cent of organisations currently support BYOD and another 34 per cent plan to do so within two years. About 25 per cent of Australian businesses use a dedicated MDM, double the number from last year.
In addition, 27 per cent of organisations allow staff to use any personal mobile or cloud app for work purposes without any restrictions.
ANAO signs Unisys contract
Supporting the ANAO’s mobility drive, the agency has also signed a three-and-a-half year contract with Unisys for expanded managed IT services. The contract extends an existing 16-year relationship.
The new services Unisys will provide under the contract include extended service desk hours to support the agency’s increasingly mobile workforce and help ANAO workers through high-intensity periods like the end of financial year. Unisys will also provide support for a broader range of business applications.
Unisys said it worked with ANAO to develop a mobility support service for iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices providing authorised personnel with secure remote access to protected ANAO data.
Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of a dystopian novel about surveillance. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam
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