By Todd Morrison

Quentin Hurst knows all about the need for mobile device management software to get a grip on the explosion of mobile devices and applications in his company. After all, he’s seen it firsthand.

Hurst, the director of business systems applications for NuVasive, a maker of medical devices used in spine surgery, said the company had seen a sharp increase in its roughly 1,500 employees wanting to work on their smartphones — the same “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) phenomenon so many other companies are experiencing.

At the same time, NuVasive was giving its sales teams Apple iPads and deploying them with custom-made apps as well as other third-party software.

The trick, Hurst said, was to secure all the devices, regardless of who bought them. Having a mobile device management solution would enable NuVasiveto deploy its own proprietary software directly to its sales staff, instead of having to go through Apple’s iTunes store or similar portals where people outside the company could download the software, he said.

“I’ve seen a lot of internal applications that were only meant for corporate use,” Hurst said of public download sites.

NuVasive began looking at options, including SAP Afaria, SAP’s mobile device management software, in addition to other vendors like MobileIron and AirWatch.

But NuVasive, being an SAP ERP customer, decided on Afaria because of its tighter integration with SAP and the Sybase Unwired Platform, which NuVasive deployed at the same time.

But instead of trying to fight BYOD, NuVasive has decided to embraceng it — while getting a handle on it. Besides, Hurst added, BYOD gives employees control over the devices they use and saves the company money on devices.

Nuvasive counts on Afaria to wipe company-related data when a device is stolen or an employee moves on.

Just a few days ago, Hurst said he accidentally left his company-issued iPad on the plane. He called to let someone know but went through the process of wiping the device just in case. He eventually got the iPad back, with all the company-related data deleted.

“I felt good that it worked. We can protect the data in a real-life scenario,” Hurst said.