The mobility trend is obvious. Rarely do you find an individual waiting in line, sitting on a bench or even driving without a mobile device in hand. We have a growing need to stay connected, to be informed, and to be occupied. At the same time, we like to be in control of the device to which we have become attached. This has helped to drive the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomenon as professionals everywhere purchase and manage their own mobile devices for work.
A recent video, BYOD is Transforming Data Centers, features Dave Fortini, Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) Director of Strategic Alliances, discussing the challenges of today's most influential driver of IT transformation. Even as BYOD eliminates some of the cost and responsibility for the corporate IT department, it introduces others and places increased pressures on data centers, demanding that companies implement solid strategies for management, monitoring, use and even control while on the go.
One important point to clarify in BYOD, according to Fortini, is that the concept is more than just wireless access to network processes and applications. Professionals have had that access in some capacity or another for quite some time. BYOD encompasses so much more, as professionals are becoming more mobile and using devices not owned by the enterprise to access data outside of the firewall. Plus, that data is now being stored in the cloud, whether public, private or a hybrid.
In the corporate environment, IT departments have a choice. They can either embrace BYOD, or they can simply issue devices that will be owned by the company and are the only devices that will be supported. This approach provides great control over the devices, particularly the ability to enforce policies and rules and the types of applications used, but it also creates challenges. For one, it hardly seems to limit the use of “rogue” devices which despite best efforts IT ends up not having visibility as to who is on the network at any given time, or insight into current threats to the network through these devices.
That is why the proper embrace of BYOD is important. It give IT greater visibility, access to all devices on the network, the ability to ensure software is up to date, that security measures are in place and that current applications used to access the network meet with corporate policies designed for data centers. This process is known as pre-admission.
The next step for BYOD accommodation success is post-admission. This allows for the quarantine of a specific user when an unapproved or problem application is used to access the data center.
We are all aware of the dramatic adoption of smartphones and tablets that mobile workers are using to access their respective data centers and supported applications or processes to perform their daily tasks. However, that is not the complete picture. At the same time, a growing number of businesses are supporting individuals working on mobile laptops from remote locations. These require the same visibility and support not only to ensure the protection of the network, but also to provide the same level of accessibility to the supported data centers.
Fortini notes that BYOD accommodation is key in planning and executing the transformation of data centers. Things like current WAN capacity, understanding the support needs of workflows and business processes as work becomes more virtualized, dispersed and applications-centric must be carefully considered. This means architecting data flows to take into account the needs to monitor and manage not just devices, but the people who own them and the applications that run on them and exchange mission critical data with them.
In short, as the video demonstrates, a holistic approach to data transformation is mandatory. The big trends of cloud, mobility, socialization of IT, virtualization of the network and desktops, and the complex task of managing profiles and enforcing policies and rules over heterogeneous environments and devices cannot be done in isolation.
The video is a little under eight minutes long, but it is eight minutes that you should find are more than well spent.
Edited by Peter Bernstein