September 03, 2012, 8:10 AM — This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.
Mobility is one of the key drivers of technology today, but now users are not only connecting corporate-issued laptops, but also a bevy of bring-your-own devices. Over 80% of workers surveyed bring personal devices to work, and 80% of those users are connecting them to the corporate network for work-related activities.
This onslaught of consumer mobile devices forces IT to address connectivity, security and productivity concerns when architecting the infrastructure. Ensuring the devices can connect securely and efficiently is necessary to avoid overburdening IT staff and network resources, and once the devices are connected to the network, ensuring the devices can be productive is critical to supporting and managing these devices.
One of the biggest challenges when dealing with this explosion of smart mobile devices in the enterprise is defining what the policy is for connecting the devices to the network. Many users and administrators use "BYOD" to refer to any consumer device connected to the network. The reality is "BYOD" really only refers to devices brought in by end users to connect to the network, rather than those that are distributed by IT.
It is important to make this distinction because there is a parallel initiative facing many IT departments, dubbed the "Consumerization of IT", where IT may distribute consumer-grade devices such as tablets to lower hardware costs and increase productivity for dedicated applications like retail kiosks or electronic medical records (EMR).
In both cases, the administrator must be able to rely on network intelligence to embrace the inherent cost savings and flexibility built into these devices and contain exactly how, where and when the devices are used on the network. A comprehensive mobile device solution will need to address both Consumerization of IT and BYOD in order to support, contain and embrace the mobile device explosion.
There are really two major options when attempting to manage mobile devices connecting to the corporate network. On one side of the spectrum, there are Mobile Device Management solutions that rely on software (also known as an agent or profile) installed on the client device to implement device level controls, security parameters, and distribute resource information.