Bring Your Own….what? (BYOD)

In my day ‘bring your own’ usually meant going to a house party clutching as much alcohol as you could conceivably carry. Now there’s a new acronym on the block, BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device. It’s creating as much of a headache for IT Managers as my party bottles of Thunderbirds and Special Brew cans.

Why are we bringing our own devices?

The rise in popularity of consumer tablets and smarts phones, such as the iPad and iPhone, has given many IT Managers a real challenge. Users have realised that these new devises are incredibly easy to use, and now want to use them in the workplace. But why do employees want to use gadgets that they have purchased for home use at work? I mean, in my kitchen I have a fantastic Kenwood mixer, but I don’t bring it into the office to start shredding paper. I think there are two things going on here:

  • People want to be seen with these devices
  • These gadgets do increase productivity.

The general employee wants to be able to use these gadgets on the corporate network, having access to all their corporate data and application. This is an issue.

Bring Your Own Device – but don’t mess up our network

The challenge for IT Managers is being able to harbour that productivity gain whilst closing down the security threats that adding a non-secure, non-compliant device on your network. Think about it, you don’t know where the device has been, what applications it has built in (does a secret DHCP server on your network sound good?) and what data the portable device is removing.

Here are the issues then:

  1. Securing your network
  2. Securing your data
  3. Enabling employees to increase productivity

Bring Your Own Device – Safely

So what’s the answer? At Abtec we get to see how the major technology vendors are tackling these issues. A week or so ago I saw an interesting solution to the problems from a company called Enterasys. The company specialises in building enterprise routers, switches and wireless access points and competes with Cisco. It has used the issues the BYOD generates to do some interesting things with network authentication. In fact, it has not only addressed the BYOD issues, it has created a technology that could radically change the way you deliver applications to your users.

Enterasys Mobile IAM Appliance – in a nutshell

The Enterasys IAM Appliances are a series of physical or virtual technologies that enables IT Managers to create secure protocols that can define how a user interacts with their corporate network. Put simply, network and applications can be delivered to users based on who they are, the device they use and where they are accessing from. This means that you could shield certain applications from some devices, or login locations. For example the Sales Director will have full access from her laptop at home, and desktop in the office, but her tablet will only present key applications when in the office, and none elsewhere.

I see this working incredibly well with VDI, desktop virtualisation. Users could have a more seamless experience from device to device with a similar desktop being presented.

This has really made me sit and listen to the team at Enterasys!