More users are bringing in their own devices to access corporate workloads. In fact, the average user may be using between 3-4 devices to access applications, information and even desktops. While some administrators are worried about this approach, there are actually some great benefits to adopting a BYOD platform. Aside from making the workforce happier and more productive, it creates a more flexible workload delivery infrastructure.
For some organizations, BYOD is a simple process where administrators simply open up information flow to certain types of devices. On the other hand, for larger firms, the deployment and planning process is a lot more detailed. Here’s the first challenge – these devices don’t actually belong to the organization. But, the information certainly does. So, to properly manage the end-point, administrators must be able to control the data being delivered to the user-owned device and what flows out of the device as well.
- Using Mobile (or Enterprise) Device Management solutions. BYOD can be overwhelming with the amount of mobile devices currently available on the market. However, the management and control process doesn’t have to be as challenging as some might thing. To combat the growing number of tablet and smartphone devices, a new type of management platform is beginning to emerge. Solutions revolving around Mobile Device Management help administrators lock down and monitor devices trying to access data on the corporate network. These solutions have come far beyond just “identifying” a device on the network. Now, administrators are able check for rooted devices, inspect the latest firmware or update patch, and even completely wipe a device if it is stolen or lost. Whether the device is a personal piece of hardware or company-issued, new control mechanisms make the management process much more feasible. From one management console, administrators are able to have a clear view into the mobile/tablet devices which are accessing workloads and resources on the company network.
- Utilizing next-generation security. Although this is a bit of a buzz-term, next-generation security solutions certainly do have a place within the growing organization. This is especially the case for companies looking at BYOD options. Next-gen security combines older methodologies with newer software-defined and advanced scanning technologies. For example, systems are now able to do end-point interrogation to help better identify and authenticate foreign devices entering the system. Administrators can set interrogation policies as strict or relaxed as they wish. A device can pass 2 out of 4 interrogation metrics and still have access to a network – however it may be limited. Patch levels, antivirus installations, and even geo-IP locations can all be used s ways to allow devices onto a network. Furthermore, many organizations are now scanning both incoming and outgoing traffic to prevent any loss of sensitive data. Data Leakage Prevention solutions allow administrators to set policies to immediately flag and quarantine information with specific patterns. For example, in a medical environment, administrators may want to monitor and alert when traffic matching the ‘xxx-xx-xxx’ format is intercepted.
- Deploy good policies. Beyond using various technologies to lock down an environment, having solid security and user policies in place can greatly increase simplicity for an environment working with BYOD. Much like having a computer usage policy, users must be aware that although they are using their own devices – the information they are accessing is still corporate-owned. Furthermore, having a set device hardware list as well as the availability of a self-help portal can all smooth the BYOD control process. By having an informed and educated user, there is more ease around BYOD and even IT consumerization. In some cases, large organizations hold mini-seminars which outline how BYOD works and how it can directly benefit both the user and the company.
It’s important to remember that the information which passes through a user’s device may still contain sensitive data. Aside from just using the above methods, virtualization can help by centralizing the data which is to be delivered to the end-user. By doing so, the applications, information, and even desktops are never actually stored at the end-point. Rather these workloads are always controlled and managed at the data center level. No BYOD initiative should be a free-for-all. A good set of policies and the right technologies in place can create a powerful platform capable of scaling and creating a more productive workforce.