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The BYOD conundrum: Why businesses must learn from universities and embrace change

Businesses must learn from higher education institutions and begin embracing BYOD to a greater extent, according to Ipswitch president of network management, Ennio Carboni.

Speaking to ITProPortal at his company's headquarters in Lexington, Massachusetts, Carboni (pictured, below) noted that many universities were currently "setting the model for what businesses should do" by voluntarily supporting large numbers of different devices.

"I think universities have done a remarkable job of BYOD. There's a lot of heads of higher educational IT departments that came to the conclusion that there was no way they were going to stop this wave. And so, through orders or general intuitiveness, decided they needed to embrace BYOD and find ways to make it work," he commented.

Carboni added that parts of the security market had a tendency to overdramatise data loss concerns, saying that a more effective balance between security and productivity could - and should - be found.

"Security issues today are too soap opera focused – here's the end of the world, so we need to secure the doors. I think that's a problem in the security market. BYOD is advertised as this potential for all of your sensitive data to leave the environment. Now, I'm not foolish enough to think that couldn't happen - I have data that belongs to the company that I carry on the smartphone. But the problem with corporations is they tend to make the rules first, and then look at at the business advantages of efficiency and productivity second," he said.

Carboni continued: "What education institutions have been doing really well is, first they look at the opportunity: OK, I've got 10,000 new kids coming in that are going to be carrying Samsung, Apple, HTC, you name it. How do we handle this because we're not going to stop it? I think that kind of thinking produces a much more productive environment for the ends users and minimises the risk because they do their thinking in real-time and balance security with productivity really well. That's what I see as the future of business. IT needs to take a very proactive look at devices, and treat it as an extension of the network."

Indeed, Boston's university community, which totals roughly 250,000 students, is more than just an example of how BYOD can be successfully integrated at scale - it's the driving force behind the area's renowned technology scene, Carboni argues. Taking root in the 1970s and 1980s, Boston has boomed in recent years on the back of a number of high-profile startup success stories, including Facebook, Trip Advisor, Zipcar, HubSpot, LogMeIn, and Timbre. Founded as a bootstrapped venture in 1991, Carboni's Ipswitch is a relative veteran of the game, but the executive was quick to pay tribute to the positive impact of younger generations on local tech-based industries and, of course, to Beantown itself.

"Every year, you have somewhere between 43,800 and 46,200 new students entering the Boston area. Many of them stay and end up forming part of the workforce that invigorates a lot of the companies that we see doing well [and] that's a huge benefit. The area itself is just very conducive for young people to live - Boston's just a cool place to be," he concludes.

Ipswitch develops a range of business solutions, specialising in network monitoring and performance management software, as well as offering file transfer and messaging applications. Its flagship product is WhatsUp Gold.