It has been confirmed that 16 MPs are to begin trialling the use of iPads to carry out committee work in the House of Commons. Later this year it will be decided whether iPads should be given to all MPs deliberating in committee. Sir Alan Haselhurst, chairman of the administration committee has commented that the devices could lead to cost savings in the long term, however there is the potential for misuse and distraction as MPs could use the tablets for unauthorised activities.
Roger Hockaday, Director of Marketing at wireless expert Aruba Networks, has made the following comments: “While this decision is great in terms of shedding Parliament’s somewhat archaic image, it will likely present the IT department with a myriad of new challenges and headaches.
“Sir Alan Haselhurst is concerned that MPs will be distracted by the lure of apps and e-books, but a more urgent concern would certainly be how to manage personal devices, such as the iPad, on legacy networks designed primarily for laptops. While laptops have Ethernet ports to fall back on, iPads and tablets rely solely on the wireless infrastructure – which must be up to scratch in terms of stability and security.
“Security will always be under the microscope. Unlike Windows devices, Apple devices have no AV or firewall to fall back on, and so appropriate steps must be taken to protect MPs browsing the internet on an iPad. While authenticating the 16 iPads in this trial should be straightforward, replicating this for every single MP will be no mean feat, should the trial prove successful, and will undoubtedly place strain on the IT department.
“The issue of true mobility is another sticking point. MPs will want to use their iPads anywhere within the building without breaking connection – even as they move around. A pervasive network that supports fast, seamless roaming across both single and multiple IP domains is the only way to achieve this, but can be difficult within historical buildings such as the Houses of Parliament.
“It would be interesting to see how this develops, and I suspect many will be keeping a close eye on the rollout over the next few months. After all, the introduction of iPads and other consumer technology onto the corporate network is a problem that many enterprises are still struggling to get their heads around – and it is only going to become more urgent as more non-Windows tablets are launched.”