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Constructing a mobile future: A device solution for a UK construction company

Summary

Our client is an independent, family-owned construction company, founded in the 19th century with 2,000 employees and 16 offices in the UK.

With a large mobile workforce, frequently working on-site, mobility and communication is paramount in the construction industry. It was vital that the company found a way to securely manage the ever-increasing number of mobile devices their employees needed to do their jobs.

Using Microsoft Intune together with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), ThirdSpace designed a unified hybrid solution for managing both mobile and desktop devices.

Results

  • A single console with which to manage on-premises devices as well as corporate-owned and user-owned mobile devices.
  • The ability to manage device-specific features such as storage encryption and passwords.
  • An inventory of corporate owned devices.
  • Secure devices with certificates.
  • The ability to manage applications deployed to devices.
  • Automatic configuration of devices to give users wifi and email access.
  • Life-cycle management of certificates deployed to the devices to support 802.1x authentication for Wi-Fi access points.
“The workforce is mobile and connected, with secure access to company data, and our IT team are in control”

The problem

Our client is an independent, family-owned construction company with 2,000 employees and 16 offices in the UK. The company needed to find a way of managing and controlling the mobile devices used by their large workforce who are usually out working on-site. The mobile devices they use include Windows phones, iOS devices, iPhones, iPads and Android.

The company were in the process of evaluating a number of mobile technology solutions, one of which was being offered through their mobile phone airtime provider at a knock-down price. They were looking into it in some depth but had been struggling to get certain features working correctly.

Microsoft knew that their solution would meet the company’s needs and be a better fit, both now and for the future. Knowing that ThirdSpace had the expertise, they introduced us to the client.

We introduced the company to the Windows phone platform, which they liked very much and decided to standardise on. They still, however, had the challenge of how they were going to manage all of these devices. ThirdSpace consultant Mat Richards went to meet the company to understand their challenges.

 

The solution

“We proposed a solution involving Microsoft Intune, working together with System Center Configuration Manager; a unified solution,” said Mathew Richards, Head of Mobility and Security at ThirdSpace. “It would offer all the features they needed, especially automatic provisioning of e-mail profiles to their mobile devices, automatic provisioning of WiFi profiles and (the biggest challenge of all) their WiFi hotspots. The WiFi access they wanted to make available to mobile users was secured using certificates. The technology they were evaluating couldn’t do this appropriately or automatically.”

We set up a proof-of-concept within the company’s production environment, so that they could thoroughly test and evaluate a working solution. As with any project, there were unexpected environmental hurdles to clear. When we came across a challenge with certificate management, we were able to take advantage of our very close relationship with Microsoft. Our colleagues in the Microsoft engineering teams (the teams that actually develop the software), helped us to fix a localised problem with a robust solution.

“Engineers from both the Microsoft Intune and System Center teams worked together with us and our client, and in a few days we demonstrated a solution that worked seamlessly. The client put it through its paces and they were very happy with it” said Mathew Richards.

The construction company was delighted, but they still couldn’t help wondering about the much cheaper alternative solution offered by their airtime provider. It seemed too good to be true. And in the end, it was; the solution provider was unable to offer the level of expertise to fix and troubleshoot the issues that they were experiencing, less still the ThirdSpace ‘yes we can’ attitude. They finally discarded the alternative solution as an unviable option.

 

The project process

ThirdSpace first met the construction company in April 2014, and the proof-of-concept was trialled and evaluated throughout the summer. In October, the ThirdSpace technical consultants returned to the client to discuss the next steps. We held a design workshop to understand more precisely their requirements and make sure that they understood the implications of their decisions. Out of this came a design document which described the new production-ready architecture and configuration.

We progressed immediately into implementation. In order to fit in with the company’s user provisioning process, we enabled synchronisation between an AD group and Microsoft Intune. As a result of this, each user was able to enrol themselves into the service, getting automatic access to their email, corporate WiFi, and use of corporate resources and internet. All seamlessly!” says Mat. To access the WiFi network, they needed a certificate provisioned for their device. We made this possible through integration with a Microsoft certificate authority.

Another aspect of the solution is that the company’s IT team can see an inventory of all the corporate-owned devices. They know which devices have been deployed, the models, serial numbers, and users. Now, all the foundations are in place to build on their solution to allow their end-users to bring their own devices (BYOD) at some point in the future, if they wish.

Now their workforce is mobile and connected with secure access to company data and their IT team are in control with:

  • A single console to manage on-premises devices as well as mobile internet connected devices
  • The ability to manage device-specific features such as storage encryption and passwords, and applications deployed to the devices
  • Automatic configuration of devices to give users WiFi and email access
  • Life-cycle management of certificates deployed to the devices to support 802.1x authentication for WiFi access points

Next, download ‘Laying the foundations for effective collaboration and security within the construction industry’. Find out how you can enable secure access to data from any location.

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Welcome to ThirdSpace, the new home (and new name) for Oxford Computer Group UK.

Oxford Computer Group UK officially rebranded as ThirdSpace in the UK on 16 October. This rebrand reflects our broadening identity and security solutions, as working practices extend from the office and home into working flexibly and collaboratively from anywhere – Your "ThirdSpace".

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