Whether one calls it Consumerization or the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) era, it has clearly begun in earnest. The availability of 4G phones, tablets, hot spots, and their usage are expanding at amazing rates. Now is a good time to look at the challenges and opportunities of BYOD. Here are 12 areas that deserve careful consideration.
Most enterprises considering BYOD think of security first. Securing the mobile device is important for different reasons, such as:
- Preventing access to the enterprise network by an unauthorized user of an authorized device
- Preventing unauthorized access to sensitive enterprise data that may be stored on the mobile device
- Preventing any malware from infecting the mobile device and then the enterprise network
- Preventing unauthorized access to the user’s personal information
Today’s users often carry multiple mobile devices, such as a laptop, a notebook, a netbook, a tablet, and/or a Smartphone. Each mobile device has been on the market long enough to have seen multiple changes or upgrades to the operating system and other specifications. When adding devices to the enterprise network inventory, consider including the following items:
- User e-mail
- Wi-Fi versions supported
- Operating System
- Software applications
After adding the mobile devices to an inventory and deciding which of them are eligible to access the enterprise network, there must be a registration procedure. The enterprise IT department may choose to develop this software in-house, though most will find it easier to use a Mobile Device Manager (MDM) package to support this process.
There is a finite limit to the number of mobile devices and applications that any enterprise network can support. BYOD dramatically increases the strain on the enterprise network, and it is, therefore, paramount to analyze potential bandwidth needs and possible challenges.
Controlling the amount of network bandwidth used by mobile devices works in much the same way as with wired devices; therefore, there are some choices to be made regarding how best to proceed for optimal bandwidth.
Keeping track of mobile device uses and usage improves the accuracy of traffic estimates as well as bandwidth planning. Knowing where mobile users are going and what they are doing in the enterprise network makes proactive network troubleshooting, network planning, and infrastructure adjustment more accurate and effective.
Many of the regulations relating to enterprise computing and networking came into effect before the rush of mobile devices occurred. The challenges are to follow those regulations without having control over all the BYOD communications. Separately, some states and countries (such as the UK’s Data Protection Act 3) require written notification to users that you are monitoring their online activities and why. Adding this notification to the AUP that the user signs before accessing the enterprise network is just one more way to help maintain compliance.
In the best of all worlds, the expanded storage on a mobile device would be clear of any enterprise data, or sensitive or public knowledge. It is in the users’ best interest to be sure this is true. Many enterprise IT departments require a “force wipe” program to remove any enterprise data from the users’ mobile devices upon an employee leaving the enterprise or when the device is lost or stolen. This program may also wipe all personal data.
When an enterprise decides to allow BYOD access, some financial questions are bound to arise. Is this mobile device access a business cost or a convenience to the user? Will this apply to all employees or only a select group? Does the enterprise compensate the user for purchase, for monthly carrier charges, for insurance, for replacement…? How does the enterprise decide?
More and more users will own two or three mobile devices that will be used in the enterprise. Unlike single location desktop computers, these mobile devices may access the enterprise network simultaneously. Accurate and complete tracking and logging of each device supports security, network monitoring, and network traffic flow.
While most organizations have left mobile device ownership to the users, some have taken other routes. A few have purchased the devices for a minimal fee so that they may have legal control of the device and then resell it to the user at a future date for the same minimal amount.
There will come a time that the mobile device (or the user) will need to have access revoked. In the case of the user, it could come from an AUP violation or departure from the enterprise or changing jobs in the organization. With the monitoring, tracking, and logging of each device, it is much easier to know if data may be stored on the device and to what extent so a limited wipe of enterprise data and configurations may be all that is required before user departure.
IT departments have multiple opportunities and challenges as a result of the BYOD invasion. The most common opportunity is to reinforce enterprise network security from both the inside and the outside. Supporting BYOD also offers more monitoring and tracking of activities that provides a more detailed view of network traffic flow. Beyond that, IT will gain valuable insight into which devices work best with the layout of the enterprise network.
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