The proliferation of mobile devices has spawned a phenomenon in the workplace commonly referred to as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). This is forcing IT teams to reevaluate enterprise communications by balancing this shift with new policies and security enforcements.
The BYOD trend is about more than just supporting mobility – it’s about adapting to an entirely new PC era, according to the Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) whitepaper, “Build Your Own Destiny.” By PC, the telecom giant means the emerging “Personal Cloud” – not the Personal Computer.
Today, employees are bringing their personal smartphones, tablets and other portable devices to work. They bring with the devices lots of expectations including be able to continue digital conversations with colleagues, partners and customers anywhere, at any time and with any application they choose.
Gartner (News - Alert) predicts that by 2014, 90 percent of companies will be supporting corporate applications on personal mobile devices, and that 80 percent of enterprises will soon have a “tablet-equipped workforce.”
Today, employees want seamless and ubiquitous access to enterprise applications without being confined to the network boundary.
“However, they want more than access to apps, per se – they may not realize it. What they really want is access to their own personal clouds,” according to the whitepaper. “They’ve already begun building these clouds to support their personal lives by assembling the applications they find most useful, and it’s only a matter of time before they start to rely on their personal clouds to support their professional lives, as well.”
For employees to experience a seamless experience and ensure security, IT departments need to change the way applications are provided to employees via “appification,” according to Alcatel-Lucent.
“Enterprise applications must adopt the convenience, user experience, and deployment model offered by consumer app stores,” the whitepaper says. “Therefore, IT teams must either post applications on public app stores or build their own enterprise app store from which employees can download the applications they want.”
The Hamilton Southeastern School District in Indiana is a good case study. It reached a decision similar to what many other school districts and businesses across the U.S. have concluded, i.e., allowing individuals to bring their own device.
But whether in a school or any other organization, BYOD is not without risks. Mobile malware is on the rise. In addition, when outside devices enter a school or business, that organization gives up full control over patch updates, anti-virus and anti-malware software, and system settings, which all can be configured to help harden systems from attack.
However, Network Access Control (NAC) can help organizations to vet the security posture of devices before they can connect to the network and control access to network resources.
“While users bringing their own devices help make everyone happy and hopefully productive, and also helps to preserve the district’s budget, we needed a way that we could?ensure that our students and faculty were not introducing malware from their personal devices onto our network,” explains Walter Morales, Chief Technology Officer at Hamilton Southeastern School District. “We believed that network access control would provide the best defense.”
The school district deployed security capabilities found in Safe NAC, a joint effort by Alcatel- Lucent and InfoExpress. Safe NAC protects the public school division’s distributed network and helps its more than 30 schools offer staff and students secure access to the instructional tools and resources they need. In addition, Safe NAC’s visibility features give the school’s IT team a full picture of who and what is connecting to the network. Furthermore, Safe NAC can reduce costs by automating operational processes and minimizing the need for IT operator intervention during authentication.
Looking ahead, the school district plans to expand its Safe NAC deployment to its remaining high schools, according to Morales. “Without Safe NAC, we probably wouldn’t have been able to allow students to bring the devices of their choice onto the school’s network,” he said. “Fortunately, thanks to Safe NAC, that’s not a situation we have to face.”
In summary, given the demand rising out of the BYOD trend, the enterprise network architecture should be built based on three essential criteria, according to Alcatel-Lucent.
First, the network must be able to support employees who want to be able to access their personal and enterprise clouds from anywhere, at any time, and on any device so they can use mash-ups of personal and enterprise applications. Second, the enterprise architecture must be able to support communications through centralization and virtualization in an enterprise network cloud. And finally, the architecture must have the ability to differentiate between personal and enterprise traffic and ensure the security of both.
Edited by Peter Bernstein