For folks who follow IT and telecommunications, there is nothing shockingly new in the results from the Cisco survey of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. The bottom line is that it’s big, it’s growing and it fills executives with a great sense of ambivalence.
The survey — reported upon at eWeek — is filled with contradictory messages from decision makers. Here is an example:
According to the Cisco survey, conducted last month by Economist Intelligence Unit, most executives are uneasy about their companies’ mobile data-access policies, and while 42 percent said that C-level executives need secure and timely access to strategic data, only 28 percent said it’s appropriate to access this information from mobile devices.
Perhaps it is worthwhile to take a step back and look at BYOD from a high perspective. One point that can’t be denied is that BYOD is a tremendously beneficial trend for vendors — both the big, high-profile companies such as Cisco and the smaller niche players — across several sectors.
The good news for these companies is both obvious and hidden. Obviously, BYOD drives higher traffic, at least incrementally. That increases the need for equipment. On the more subtle level, the nature of that traffic is different. The need for security, quality of service (QoS) for video-conferencing and other real-time applications in non-traditional locations, overall management platforms and other accoutrements not generally associated with wired or unwired consumer bandwidth will drive investments beyond purely additional bandwidth.
The second point really is an amplification of the first. By far the most important concern about BYOD is security. BYOD brings in a whole new class of security concerns. The new concerns are on three layers: There are more devices, most of these devices are unknown and many of them probably don’t measure up in terms of internal security. So, again, the changes are both “more” and “different.”
The challenges will proliferate. Indeed, there is a new term with which organizations need to deal: bring your own network (BYON). Lucas Mearan at Computerworld explains what this is:
BYON is a by-product of increasingly common technology that allows users to create their own mobile networks, usually through mobile wireless hotspots. Security professionals say BYON requires a new approach to security because some internal networks may now be as insecure as consumer devices.
Suffice it to say that there are many ramifications of this, which Mearan describes. The industry is just at the beginning of dealing with the nascent trend, however.
A good example of how companies are struggling with BYOD — and, more to the point, how vendors can benefit by solving these dense problems is AppSense, a company that has introduced MobileNow. Datamation explains that MobileNow is a software-as-a-service offering that is aimed at using that cloud to spread a mobile device management (MDM) blanket over the increasingly confusing and amorphous corporate communications landscape. The point isn’t to highlight MobileNow itself, but to point out that a high level of innovation is necessary to handle these rapidly multiplying challenges.
As often has been the case since the advent of the Internet, users — be they consumers, professionals or prosumers — find ways of using the network that suit them. It is up to the various segments of the industry to work backwards from that use case and put in place systems and platforms to offer it efficiently and safely.