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BYOD on your terms: Why you can encourage your staff to bring their own devices

As the consumerisation of IT continues to evolve so do CIO attitudes towards Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). The inexorable march of the consumerisation of IT means we have now reached a point where BYOD has become a matter of necessity for CIOs. In fact, in a recent research report by Gartner, analysts predict a mass BYOD requirement in the next few years.

According to a global survey of CIOs, as many as 38 per cent of companies are expected to stop providing devices to workers by 2016. Unfortunately, in the rush to implement, all too often some of the most subtle nuances of balancing security against flexibility are overlooked with potentially destructive consequences.

To help avoid this, there are a handful of network access issues you should consider before even creating your BYOD policy, let alone deploying your shiny new BYOD solution.

Don’t forget the guests

We typically think of BYOD as employees bringing their personal devices to the workplace. But whenever a customer, contractor or partner pays a visit to another company, they will bring their corporate and their personal devices. Both of these are part of BYOD – unmanaged devices that need to be granted controlled access to the network.

Guests can account for thousands of extra network users. As well as the obvious security risks, you also need to consider the main associated costs, including provisioning, managing and auditing guest accounts.

In addition, your organisation might hold company-wide meetings or other events, both at your premises and at other venues. These sorts of events require the capability to bulk configure hundreds or thousands of guest accounts. For speed, guests could even provision their own wireless access via an online portal.

While it is critical to have a simple and straightforward solution for provisioning guest accounts in a matter of seconds, you must still maintain a link to who is accessing the network in case of illegal activities or abuse of network resources. A polite and convenient way of doing this can be via an email or a text message that provides the access information to the guest. This provides them with the access they need, and you with the guest management information you require.

Agnosticism and availability

A company’s network infrastructure is rarely from just one vendor. Therefore it is critical that any network access solution is vendor agnostic and based on open standards so it does not lock organisations in to proprietary protocols and capabilities. Fabric technology provides a flexible way of providing guest access without exposing any of your converged infrastructure.

High availability is another important consideration. Network access control will be on your critical path so it must be highly reliable and it must be available 24/7. If it’s not then your IT department will have to be instead, since properly servicing remote offices and people working in different time zones requires this round-the-clock availability.

Similarly, it is critical for any security solution to unify access control across your wired and wireless network infrastructure. This is important for both the user experience and for the IT department’s ability to apply same access policies across the board.

Corporate directories

Integration with corporate directories is critical. The solution must be capable of handling look-ups for users and their devices within multiple directories, from different vendors, and all at the same time, in order to adhere the principles of simple end user access but with robust and granular IT controls so that users experience appropriate levels of corporate access.

Whatever network access solution you choose as part of your BYOD approach, considering the points above should provide flexible deployment options, detailed granular access and complete real-time visibility of all networked devices and what access they have. Implemented in this way BYOD should enable you to offer corporate network access under your terms.

Simon Culmer is Managing Director, UK and Ireland. He is responsible for ensuring that Avaya's global strategy is executed in the region and that Avaya's commitment to support its channel partners and customers is maintained at a local level.