This blog originally appeared on Smart Enterprise Exchange.
Securing today’s sophisticated environments requires more than blanket policies and strict usage guidelines. IT security in the era of the consumerization of IT, cloud computing and myriad handheld devices demands both a keen understanding of technology trends as well as an innovative approach to protecting data, shielding corporate assets and mitigating risk to the business.
Companies such as CA Technologies are aware of the dilemma facing IT security leaders, and according to Andi Mann, Vice President of Cloud Strategy at CA Technologies, are working to help customers both secure and innovate.
“We secure the environment with our customers and enable them to bring new business on stream, but do it securely … and rather than have a security disabling capability – they have security to enable capability,” Mann said.
That’s how Mann explained the unique relationship between security and innovation during a recent panel discussion with several IT leaders on “The Innovation Imperative: Closing the IT Gap to Meet Demand and Accelerate Success.” And the company’s efforts are in line with IT leaders’ concerns. Poll data collected during the CA-hosted event shows that “protecting customer confidential information and defending against security breaches” was a top issue with 27%, second only to “maintaining consistent end-user experience regardless of the service or how it is accessed,” which garnered 28% of the responses.
IT leaders during the discussion explained how they must make a transition from performing tactical duties that simply maintain the status quo to adopting new technologies to enable innovative approaches that customers – internal and external – will embrace. Their mission is to keep IT relevant, boost the CIO profile among business leaders, and perhaps more important, reduce the risk of end users bypassing the IT department to get new technologies and creating security and other risks most businesses can’t take.
Myrna Soto, Senior Vice President and Chief Infrastructure and Information Security Officer with Comcast, one of the world’s leading media, entertainment and communications companies, said her company is working closely with partners such as CA Technologies and others to enable television viewing from multiple devices. The challenge is many-fold, as Soto explained.
“We’re working very closely with device makers, looking at the layers of technology that can be put into place to protect the content, to protect the customer’s experience and to be able to serve up those experiences anywhere, any time and on any device,” Soto said. “If we don’t become those business enablers, we’ll just stagnate, which is death.”
The drive to securely innovate is also evident in the day-to-day efforts of panelists Ken Piddington, Chief Information Officer for Global Partners, LP, a leader in the storage, distribution and marketing of energy products; and Harry Butler, Director of Infrastructure at Elbit Systems of America, a leading aerospace defense services company.
For instance, Butler’s end users want their tablets to “do everything their PC does,” but as he points out, “There’s only one problem – it’s not a PC.” That means he has to find ways to create a PC-like environment from end-user experience down to security on the consumer device.
“You have to go through and look at the different options out there, the pieces of software and security aspects to provide what the customer really wants,” Butler explained. “We’re an aerospace defense company, we kind of like to know where our data is so we don’t do a lot of cloud things … so you have to get back on our networks securely and do the things that you need to do that way.”
Piddington agreed. He pointed out that IT leaders more and more have to rationalize the risk of allowing consumer devices and other technologies into their environment against not providing access for end users because the alternative could be worse.
“It’s a consumer product and they want to be able to deal with it the same way they deal with it at home when they’re in the business. You’ve got to either find ways to do that or they’re going to go outside and that’s when you have the security risk,” Piddington added. “It’s key to get in there early so that you can bring technology uses to the value proposition very early on as opposed to [becoming] an afterthought.”