Interview: BYOD and the revolutionary potential of iBeacon technology

We recently spoke with Phil Keeley, Principal Systems Engineer at Aerohive Networks, about how companies can develop an effective Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy and the revolutionary potential of iBeacon technology.

The full interview can be found below.

1. To start off, tell us a bit about your background Phil

I have over 17 years wireless industry experience from early wireless hand held POS devices in Wentworth golf club through to WiFi design and implementation in entire Airport complexes, so I believe I have a good grasp of the technologies out there.

The appearance of 802.11n and 802.11ac has led me away from the bottlenecks caused by the controller model to the innovative distributed architecture of Aerohive.

2. What are the main struggles companies are coming up against with their BYOD policies?

With an increasing number of devices entering the workplace, the real drain on IT resources is what to do with them once they are on the network.

Keeping up with latest security requirements and ensuring administrators have visibility and control over what devices are being used for is important in ensuring network performance and employee productivity remains high.

3. How can companies deal with the security issues that are bound to arise?

It is imperative that the wireless infrastructure is simple and flexible for trusted users, but does not come at the expense of making it easier for abusers to find their way into the network.

By using Private Pre-shared key (PPSK) functionality, organisations can give different levels of access to different users and devices. For example, guest access or personal devices can be much more limited than permanent workers or corporate owned devices. By giving this control to administrators, the network can remain secure.

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4. What key considerations should a company bear in mind when developing a BYOD policy?

IT managers can best prepare for the influx of devices entering their workplace by taking the following steps:

  1. Provide enterprise-class access to all devices whether they are company owned or consumer-grade
  1. Deploy a truly service-aware network solution that can scale up and down at any time, depending on the number of devices interacting with resources
  1. Ensure the network has adequate functionality to deal with the ever-expanding load on the spectrum
  1. Accommodate for the WYOD trend which will become commonplace in the next few years

5. Is it too early to be talking about WYOD?

No, it’s clear that wearable devices are on the cusp of widespread adoption and as they are already starting to enter the workplace, a strategy needs to be in place.

For example, if network administrators view certain applications as being damaging and have blocked them on laptops, tablets and smartphones, they will need to do the same on wearable devices.

6. What are the major similarities/differences between a BYOD and WYOD policy?

WYOD is an extension of BYOD and so the policy needs to reflect this. Organisations cannot really limit which devices employees and guests bring onto the network and so they need to make sure a policy is in place.

Companies should keep in mind the above four considerations when deploying a policy.

7. What do you see for the future of BYOD?

The lesson we’ve all learned in the last four years is that mobile will continue to evolve and adapt, and the number of devices, and applications on them, will continue to grow.

As long as administrators maintain visibility over what is entering the network and what it is being used for, they will be able to control the potential chaos that comes with the BYOD trend.

8. What do you see for the future of iBeacon technology?

iBeacons have the potential to change office life as they can be used to authorise entry into a building, switch the coffee machine on when particular employees walk into the kitchen and customise light and climate settings automatically in meeting rooms for example.

As iBeacons are just a transmission tool, these use cases only work if Wi-Fi is used to underpin them, and so combining the two technologies can lead to an evolution in the workplace.