How Do You Manage 10,000 WiFi Mice?

I recently downloaded the WiFi Mouse application for my Samsung Galaxy S3. As you might guess, it lets you control a desktop PC from your phone. The app is jammed full of features, supporting regular cursor control, left and right buttons, on-(phone) screen keyboard input and even speech-to-text input. That last capability actually worked amazingly well. Perhaps I’ll try writing a story with it next time.

hands holding Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphoneYou’ll also understand that I was unable to resist trying out the app while I sat in my off-site office, otherwise known as Panera Bread. Yup, I just connected to their WiFi network, fired up the mouseserver in a terminal, and auto-connected the smartphone’s WiFi mouse. Firewalls were turned off, of course, so I’d have no troubles. It simply started, and in short order I was mousing around my screen, typing text and dictating sentences. (I’ve long since learned to ignore funny looks from people around me while I write articles.)

Bring Your Own Device

At some point I took a break and read Ron Miller’s blog post on the three most surprising facts in a new BYOD study. In it, Miller points out that the survey showed fully 90 percent of American workers use their personal smartphones for work.

That got me thinking.

If everybody in a 10,000-person company started using their smartphones as mice, how would the system admins and operations people ever keep a handle on their computing and network resources? Is it even a big deal, or is the issue just too darned widespread to even think about?

Ten thousand WiFi-connected anythings are certainly scary when you’re tasked with keeping bad things from happening.

The number of client/server (Android-to-desktop) mobile apps appearing over just the past six months has been staggering. Mobile developers have created apps that play music on the phone while using the PC as a jukebox. You can use your device’s volume rocker to advance slides on a LibreOffice notebook-based presentation. You can even run a VNC server on your phone, then display its screen on your PC desktop. There’s also an X Window server available on Android for running remote X applications on remote Linux machines, although it’s not very mature yet.

How Are You Dealing?

I’m curious about how you’re dealing with all this. Have your security and roll-out processes caught up with today’s Bring Your Own Device capabilities? The WiFi mouse is just an easy-to-relate-to example.

As an independent consultant, I can choose to turn off my firewalls and other security features as I see fit. Most companies can’t allow that, because every employee isn’t a network ops person. Most organizations like to standardize software loads, just to try to keep everything sane. Using capabilities like WiFi mice increases the complexity almost beyond reason.

Granted, most employees won’t be working from a coffee shop, and I admit there will probably be only a small number who use a smartphone-based mouse. Still, the question remains: How do you manage 10,000 WiFi smartphone mice?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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