Want a Secure IT Environment? Lock Down Data, Not Choices

Posted on November 06, 2014

When it comes to data security, the most obvious solution is to lock down the choices that employees have. That's what most companies did a decade or more ago, when Cloud-based solutions were still on the drawing board and it was common for employees to be issued a laptop and BlackBerry for work usage.

Prat Agarwal, director of business development at secure mobile printing leader Breezy, says that in today's world, the key to a secure environment is locking down data " not vendor choice. There are many reasons that locking down device and software choices no longer work, he says.

For one thing, locking down the work environment reduces your choices and can increase your costs. "It's more expensive and harder to make changes when the situation calls for it if you've locked yourself into a single-vendor solution," he points out.

It's also more inefficient, because every worker has to learn the same technology and use the same devices, regardless of their past experience. "Getting users to adopt the company's choice for hardware and software is also a challenge, especially if you don't consult your employees before you make a selection," Agarwal says.

In fact, Business News Daily recently reported that 77% of employees in a survey say that they're not consulted before a new communication tool is implemented in their office. The study from Softchoice also says that 58% of the surveyed employees said they're not consulted on how useful a new communication tool is after it has been rolled out.

Why does that matter? Business News Daily says, "Employees who are not actively consulted about communication tool rollouts are twice as likely to be dissatisfied at work, and three times more likely to not see themselves at their current employer long term."

Agarwal says that even if a company succeeds in securing employee adoption for a locked-down hardware and software environment, the lack of choices for workers and IT results in increased IT expenses. "You not only have to spend more time on the process, including the process of hiring staff that knows specific tools, but you wind up with less competitive pricing due to inflexible requirements."

Compatibility Matters

One of the key reasons that IT used to offer for limiting choice was that it ensured compatibility, and centralized control for easier security. But that's no longer the case, Agarwal says. "Data breaches happen even in the most locked-down environments," he points out. "In fact, the more locked down your PC and laptop environment is, the more likely employees are to use their smartphones and tablets as "work-around" solutions to doing the job their way."

So what's the key to securing data while allowing a wide range of hardware and software choices" Agarwal says it's compatibility. "That is, selecting security solutions " including a secure mobile printing solution " that is compatible with the widest possible array of hardware and software choices. It's almost the exact opposite of trying to lock everything down."

That's the approach that Breezy's customers take, he says. "We're enterprise friendly because we're compatible with nearly everything in the enterprise." For example, Breezy's secure mobile printing solution is compatible with all of Gartner's 2014 Magic Quadrant enterprise mobility management tools (AirWatch, MobileIron, Citrix, Good Technology and IBM MaaS360, formerly owned by Fiberlink).

"As a start-up, it was important for us to build products that could work with a variety of different solutions," Agarwal says. "So we made sure that we can work with the full spectrum of printing solutions, from Cloud printing to pull printing."

He sees pull printing, also called "follow-me printing," as one of the most important security features a company can implement as the shift toward employee-owned tablets and smartphones continues. Pull printing allows for a print job to be sent to a pull-printing server, which delivers the print job to the printer. This frees up the user's computer for other tasks and reduces network traffic. Word-processing documents and even Web pages (referred to as Web pull printing) can be pull-printed without having the file opened on the user's computer. The user sends the document's location to the pull-printing server for processing.

Proud to be Agnostic

Agarwal says that Breezy is proudly hardware agnostic, and recommends that approach to any IT manager. "Our solution is hardware agnostic, and works with printers of all kinds. It also works with any device that can connect to the network, for any device, anywhere printing. This means that no ports need to be open, since all communication is via outbound port 443 HTTPS connection, and it works when the employee is connected to your own on-premise network, a hybrid network, or via cloud printing when they're away from the office. Yet it's secure, because we encrypt every print job on the device itself," he explains.

This hardware agnostic approach has become a critical competitive advantage for Breezy as it has grown, Agarwal says. "We work extra hard at understanding our customer's needs and architecture, and making sure that we can fit seamlessly into the company's architecture while meeting their needs. So it's easier for Breezy to get an agreement to buy from all the departments " especially compliance and security " than it is for other vendors," he says proudly.

Breezy customer Sal Costanzo, Director of Technology and Instructional Resources for Indiana's New Albany Floyd County Consolidated School Corporation says that his IT department had looked at most of the mobile printing solutions on the market before selecting Breezy for a district-wide iPad deployment, and none of them worked. "If it was secure, it wasn't easy. If it was easy, it wasn't secure."

Then he noticed an article that mentioned Breezy, and began a proof of concept trial. The school district had two print servers and centralized management for more than 600 printers, plus a MobileIron EMM solution that was already in place. "Breezy's integration with MobileIron was a big plus in the company's favor when we took our second look at it," Costanzo adds.

"We are very pleased with Breezy," said Costanzo. "All of our iPad users now have mobile printing, and IT didn't need to purchase any additional hardware. Breezy met or exceeded all of our criteria during the pilot program."

But it wasn't just the rich feature set that turned Costanzo into a fan and NAFCS into a Breezy customer. "It was hands-down, the most feature-rich program we looked at. But that wouldn't have been enough for me", says Costanzo. "I don't have time to wait around for customer support to solve a problem, so a responsive support team was critical to turning me into a satisfied customer. I felt that with Breezy, we weren't just buying a product, but investing in a company and a working relationship. It's a partnership. We couldn't be happier with how responsive the support team has been, or how quickly they jumped into answering questions or resolving issues that came up. Breezy has excelled in every aspect for us. It's not expensive for what you get."

For more information on secure mobile printing, watch this video from Breezy, download The Definitive Guide to Mobile Printing, a free ebook, or click here to schedule a demo now.

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