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Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) - A New Challenge for IT
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) presents a different operating model for the corporate IT department, bringing along both some nice benefits, and of course, some thorny challenges.

Instead of IT taking the lead and dictating which of the latest gadgets are to be used and supported, it is now the user who is empowered. Users have already selected the devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc.) that they desire for personal use, and now they want to use them at work, as well.

BYOD is more than just talk.

It is happening now. A recent Harris Poll study of US adults revealed that more than 4 out of 5 people use a personal electronic device for tasks related to work.

Benefits of BYOD include lower training costs, increased employee satisfaction, and lower acquisition costs for companies where the employee is responsible for buying both the device and the voice/data plan.

Some companies are even experiencing revenue gains due to BYOD. According to a study by SAP and NetBase, ADT doubled sales in some regions due to the use of iPads from its sales force.

Challenges of BYOD:

As employees introduce new devices to the network, the mix of traffic may change significantly, impacting network performance. Even a small increase in video traffic on wired or wireless networks can potentially slow business critical applications running on the same network. High-resolution displays on some consumer devices, such as the iPad with retina display, are extremely bandwidth hungry.

Network security is another big challenge that needs attention. In fact, one survey shows that 25% of all BYOD users have been victimized by malware and hacking. Due to BYOD, IT may have to deal with users attaching devices with non-standard operating systems, out-of-date patches, missing or unsupported protocols, and little or no security software. Yet, IT must still ensure secure and properly functioning IT services.

How can IT address these BYOD challenges?

The IT department should test for network congestion in WIFI, LAN, WAN and data center networks and determine the resultant impact on bandwidth, latency and frame loss. Realistic network testing should be performed to accurately simulate statistically correct user loads, while using real clients with the latest versions of protocols. This proactive performance testing goes a long way in preventing surprises.

To help address security challenges, IT needs to test the impact of BYOD on encryption, SSL and IPSec VPN. Also, application-aware firewalls need to recognize all the protocols and keep up to date with the latest versions under high-bandwidth usage conditions. Some IT departments go as far as allowing employees to use instant messenger (IM) like Skype but restrict the file transfer capabilities of the IM software. This requires deeper application inspection and knowing the performance limits is critical. The only way to be sure they are working is to test them.

Without realistic network testing, performance and security issues will overshadow the benefits promised by BYOD.
By: Ankur Chadda - 1/16/2013 8:58:45 AM
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