Since many of these applications serve little or no corporate purpose other than the amusement of the employee, they are drawing some attention. Increasingly CIOs are asking hard questions about their obligation to support or fully enable that traffic. It’s a bit of a devil’s bargain though, they want the employee to use the device, but they want to prevent them from using it in their normal way. Most customers are moving toward some form of traffic management, but disabling popular non-essential applications will prove too draconian in some corporate cultures.
The most pressing danger though is the lack of any real baseline of network behavior. BYOD devices on the whole are Internet dependent and they bring with them a traffic burden, and corresponding connection addition, to the network. We see clear differences between devices and some bring bigger burdens than others, but understanding that and applying policies to keep that in check are increasingly important.
What advice would you give to a company trying to cope with an increasing number of private mobile devices on its network?
Be careful what you ask for. While there are clear benefits, there are less obvious hidden challenges. Again, not all devices have the same traffic profile and understanding and managing that traffic is an iterative process that requires tools that can provide visibility to the data and enable desired mitigation schemes. Policy enforcement solutions can assist on both of these fronts, but the network manager needs to come to understand the subtleties involved.
We have nearly ten years of experience in this realm and have learned many lessons the hard way. Our customers and prospects benefit from our advice. Just be aware that you are going from a network where you had all the answers based on common build practice to one that is a little bit out of your control. New applications are coming out by the second and your users are going to find them and expect to use them over the corporate network. Embrace it, because you can’t stop it.
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