BYOD or bust

Enterprises must pull their heads out of the sand and begin to implement a BYOD policy

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BYOD or bust
By  Georgina Enzer Published  June 18, 2013

Enterprises must pull their heads out of the sand and begin to implement a BYOD policy, upgrade their network hardware and set up mobile device controls before it is too late and their infrastructure is compromised.

The BYOD trend is happening. Companies can no longer afford to bury their heads in the sand and hope for the best; they are going to have to plan their BYOD strategy carefully to ensure the company is protected and the policy roll-out is smooth, secure and worry free for both the IT department and the business.

“You need to be able to build a framework around this BYOD phenomenon, and the framework needs to be able to identify the devices as they come onto the network, secure your network from and for those devices and be able to manage, change and control the device,” says Rabih Dabboussi, managing director of network experts Cisco UAE.

The era of one device per person is in the past. Most users have multiple devices and can, in many instances, have multiple devices connected to the network at any one time.

A worldwide survey commissioned last year by network security experts Fortinet, looking at attitudes towards BYOD and security from the point of view of the user, instead of the IT manager, found that BYOD is considered predominantly a right rather than a privilege. Fifty-five percent of those polled expected to be able to use their own devices in the workplace or for work purposes. With this expectation comes the risk that employees feel so strongly they will consider ignoring company policy banning the use of own devices. Thirty-six percent of people polled admitted that they have, or would contravene a company BYOD policy.

“With users more than willing to adopt subversive strategies for their own device use, the organisation needs to ensure control of its IT infrastructure as soon as possible. The most effective way to do this is by securing inbound and outbound access to the corporate network besides implementing Mobile Device Management. It is a dangerous strategy to rely on a single technology to address BYOD security challenges. The strategy should be one of granular control over users and applications, on top of devices,” explains Bashar Bashaireh, regional director at network security expert Fortinet Middle East.

While security is the most highly publicised challenge of BYOD; bandwidth, policy implementation, user access management, and device compliance, are just some of the less highly publicised but equally as important concerns that any enterprise looking at BYOD must implement.

Network infrastructure challenges

The network infrastructure itself is a main component of any BYOD deployment and is one area of BYOD that is regularly completely overlooked.

“Typically wireless LANs have been installed and designed around providing connectivity.  With more devices and more applications there is a huge impact on the available bandwidth, which many WLANs struggle to cope with.  The WLAN truly needs to be enterprise class, designed with high capacity in mind, not just connectivity,” states Wieland Alge, VP and general manager EMEA, at end-to-end network security experts Barracuda Networks.

The wireless network should be designed to deliver the same quality of user experience as the wired; it needs to be highly available, reliable and effectively transparent to the users, irrespective of how many devices are connected.

With multiple personal devices connecting to the network, there must be enough bandwidth to service each of those devices and the rest of the corporate network efficiently.

“Network bandwidth demand can be relatively easily accommodated if the solution that is selected features a centralised radio architecture, such as a Distributed Antenna System [DAS], as opposed to selecting a solution with a distributed radio architecture.  With a centralised radio architecture, when additional capacity is required, more radios can simply be added at a single site which feeds the entire DAS.  This is sometimes referred to as ‘basestation hoteling’, and is not only efficient in terms of easily adding capacity, but also has advantages for both initial capex and on-going opex,” explains John Spindler, director of product management at wireless specialists TE Data.

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