Founded in 1995, Birlasoft is a Global IT Services provider and part of the 150 year-old, multi-billion dollar, CK Birla Group. With a global workforce of over 4000 employees, Birlasoft has global footprints with multiple offices and world class delivery centers across the world.
Birlasoft deploys a host of innovative solutions and service architectures across the global banking, financial services, insurance and manufacturing industries. The company has several offices across multiple global locations with a vast talent pool of high quality, and intelligent domain experts in the chosen verticals.
The explosion in the number of devices entering into Birlasoft's network was creating a challenging situation. Information Infrastructure Support (IIS) division—the internal IT support arm of Birlasoft— has been mandated to provide a secure, reliable and scalable IT infrastructure to Birlasoft's employees. The IT department was earlier managing only the BlackBerry devices (approximately 100 devices) provided by Birlasoft to its select employees through a telecom service provider's BlackBerry Server. Messaging and collaboration services on these devices were the primary applications being supported.
“The demand for email account configuration on employee-owned smart phones had been increasing exponentially over the years. We always had tight security controls on other user assets like PCs, laptops etc., however, security of data on mobile devices was not addressed till recent past,” says Vipul Jain, CIO, Birlasoft.
The susceptibility of such devices to loss or theft led to the realization that corporate data (emails) on mobile devices was a growing data security risk that could not be ignored any longer.
“Being an organization that has stringent Data Security standards that are required to be at par with the global benchmark in IT service delivery, we came up with the Mobile Device Management (MDM) policy. The policy was aimed at securing email data during transit and rest on the mobile devices. There were several security features that were critical for the implementation of this policy,” Jain informs.
Birlasoft wanted a solution that included security features like user authentication, passwords, session time-outs, remote wipe-out and encryption. Once the policy was in place, provisioning an enabling platform was the next step. The MDM platform was expected to enable across the mobile device estate (without exception).
"We had secured the company provided Blackberry devices to a large extent but employee owned devices were not secured. We were unaware of the number of mobile devices that accessed emails through ActiveSync, but we knew that most of the smart phone owners were using it," Jain says.
The other area of concern for the company was the types of devices and operating systems that were accessing the emails. The form factors varied from smartphones to phablets to tablets while the Operation systems were from different OEMs and their versions, "As the end users were spread across the globe, the solution had to work for everyone and everywhere," he said.
Birlasoft was running MS Exchange 2007, and the new MDM platform had to effectively synchronize with it. In addition, the company had implement BESX for Blackberry devices and there had to be a consideration that the MDM platform for other OS should not conflict with BESX.
Before the implementation, Birlasoft evaluated other prominent MDM solutions available in the market such as MobileIron, Airwatch, MaaS360 etc. Apart from the regular MDM solutions, Birlasoft also looked at MS Exchange 2013.
"The evaluation process included examining various MDM solutions, detailing our requirements and inviting techno-commercial solutions from providers. This was followed by a POC with two selected service providers, evaluation of on-premise and cloud options before conducting the commercial negotiations," Jain informs.
"We finally went ahead with Citrix XenMobile. The solution is a leader amongst the MDM solutions. Moreover, Citrix has been a leader in introducing innovative end-user technologies some of which can be leveraged in future by Birlasoft," Jain explains
The Citrix XenMobile was implemented on the cloud. The project was rolled out in two phases based on the technical and geographical considerations of the employee base.
“The first phase involved migrating company-provided BlackBerry devices from service provider to in-house BESX Platform across the globe in one shot. Phase 2 entailed enrolling employee owned devices on Citrix XenMobile Platform as per their geographical presence starting with India, APAC, EMEA and USA (in that order),” says Jain.
“It took us close to three months in executing this project. Around 250 devices were enrolled on both platforms (BESX- 100, XenMobile- 165) by end of Dec 2013,” Jain says.
New Delhi based PC Solutions was the implementation partner. “The technical support provided by the Citrix team during the implementation phase was commendable. The sales team was instrumental at all stages of the service provisioning in getting relevant functions into action,” says Jain.
Post the roll out of Citrix XenMobile, Birlasoft has been able to reduce the risk of data loss through mobile devices. While there was no data loss happening, the deployment has preempted the risk of data loss. It has also made management of security on mobile devices easy.
“Users can now access their Active Directory credentials to access MDM services on cloud. Today, we have complete visibility and control into the security posture of the mobile devices accessing the corporate email services,” says Jain. “It is an architectural change in our environment. We have also significantly reduced the time spent by the IT team in mitigating risks.”
On the future plans, he said, “Mobile devices are throwing up opportunities as well challenges for enterprises. Moving ahead, we would like to test a BYOD environment. This is the first step towards understanding the challenges of mobility and planning ourselves for BYOD. We would be looking at virtualizing desktops and other solutions from Citrix in the future,” says Jain.
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