Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

In the past, enterprises have driven adoption of the latest computing hardware, having been courted by device manufacturers and distributors for large-volume orders. However, the huge popularity of Apple iOS and Android devices in consumer markets means enterprises are now having to respond to employee demand to use devices that the enterprise has no control over, to access corporate data and applications.

BYOD represents the most significant shift in IT management since the advent of the PC. The consumerisation-of-IT trend has gained major traction in less than two years with the advent of the iPhone and other smart mobile devices, causing most businesses to let employees bring -- or at least choose -- their own smartphones and tablets.

But the consumerisation and BYOD trends are only getting stronger, as success on the mobile front puts pressure on IT to allow other employee-driven technologies, such as PCs, cloud services, desktop apps, and social media. Organisations need to recognise that the BYOD trend is not about technology but requires an IT strategy rethink around policy-based deployment, security, and management of iPhones, Androids, iPads, Windows Phones, and BlackBerrys.

This is shifting enterprises away from the traditional model of IT department control and forcing them to plug the gap with a BYOD strategy. With Apple and Android driving the BYOD trend, the individual employee will become an increasingly important primary device channel into the enterprise.

The landscape of devices and user needs is changing, CIOs are facing mass-mobility, and it is expected to grow rapidly. Gartner predicts sales of smartphones to end users will reach 461.5 million in 2011 - overtaking PC shipments - and rise to 645 million in 2012. Combined sales of smartphones and tablets will be 44 per cent greater than the PC market in 2011, according to the analyst.

CIOs need to explore new ways to provide, fund and manage mobile devices to allow employees more choice and support BYO programs and must be ready for the BYO programs sooner than they realise. BYO is a principle that most organisations will adopt and organisations must prepare for this change.

Gartner has defined at least four new mobile management styles that will emerge as different groups of staff demand different approaches to mobile kit. These will range from a 'control-oriented' style, where the organisation still provides and manages devices, contracts and applications; all the way up to a 'hands-off' approach, where the organisation typically does not provide devices or apps and sanctions employees sourcing their own mobile devices, email and hosted services. Any controls required for this approach are then applied in the cloud, in apps or by policies.

Global businesses should be prepared to support at least three smartphone platforms by 2012, according to Gartner, with some needing to support four or even five.

Among the concerns that come with a high BYOD factor are questions of policy. Regardless of device type, a user who is registered in the in the corporate directory and authenticates to the WLAN, it is highly likely that the requirements for that device setup and allowed usage behavior are covered by policy. If it’s an employer issued device, the equation might be different than if it’s a personal device. And if I’m a guest to the WLAN and policy allows for guest access, ideally the guest shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to use the WLAN. Nor would the network be at risk just because an outsider is being given a little connectivity.

When running secure, enterprise wireless networks, one of the biggest challenges can be getting large numbers of clients properly configured to work the way the network needs them to. Manually configuring wireless client devices is unctuous when lots of device types and hundreds or thousands of devices need to be touched. Wireless LAN vendor solutions such as Meru Networks SmartConnect can configure both wireless and wired secure clients and applies different profiles to a device based on whether it is identified as a corporate asset or a BYOD device after it classifies the device.

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